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Vancouver Brewfest - friendly local brews

Vancouver Brewfest
Vancouver BrewfestWendy Bumgardner

The third annual Vancouver Brewfest takes over Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver, Washington August 8-10, 2014. It is an excellent way to spend a summer afternoon or evening. General admission for the entire weekend is $15 with an online ticket purchase or $20 at the gate. The admission price gets you a nice glass tumbler and five beer tokens. The wristband gives you entry on all days and $5 off a ride via Vancouver Cab. The event benefits Disabled American Veterans, Northwest Battle Buddies and Second Chance Companions. Weekend hours are noon-10p Saturday and noon-7p Sunday.

I've never made it to the big Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland's Waterfront Park because my husband and friends who attended had such poor experiences. Long lines to taste any of the brews steered them not to the beers they wanted to sample, but the ones with the shortest line. It's almost always hot and there it's hard to find a shady place to relax.

The Vancouver Brewfest is the antidote for all of that. Esther Short Park is completely shaded by giant trees. The tents are well-spaced around the park. We went Friday evening from 6:30 - 8:30 and only once waited in a very short line. The rest of the time we could easily get a pour with only a person or two schmoozing with the brewer ahead of us. Saturday may see a little more action, but it shouldn't be the grueling experience of the Portland festival.

The brewers hail from all over the state of Washington in addition to the growing number of Vancouver brewers. Plus, you will see some Oregon labels. We grabbed our included tokens and circled the park sampling only the IPAs. Between the two of us, we could share 1-token 4 ounce pours of 10 brews. The ones that we both gave thumbs-up to were:
Alameda Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA
Doomsday Nuclear IPA - from Washougal, WA.
Ecliptic Canopus-IWA - astronomically named, from Portland.
Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA from Eugene-Springfield, Oregon
Laht Nepper Crop Duster IPA from Waitsburg, WA (out near Walla Walla)
Loowit 1404 IPA - special for the festival, from beautiful downtown Beercouver, WA.
Payette Outlaw IPA - from Boise, Idaho. Apparently. What is it with these web sites not telling where the heck the business is actually located?

We had split decisions on:
Backwoods Log Yard IPA from Carson, WA
Heathen Son of Malice IPA and Transcend IPA, from Vancouver, WA
Mill City Brew Werks Log Splitter Imperial IPA from Camas, WA

We both gave thumbs-down to four others who shall remain nameless. But you may well prefer those!

On this first visit, we didn't sample the ciders or wines or anything not IPA. You definitely could spend the entire weekend to make it through all of the offerings.

Food is available. We had slices from the Vinnie's Pizza booth, they are one of our favorite pizza places in Vancouver. Tommy O's, Woody's Tacos, Jodell's Catering, Main Event Sports Grill and Taki's Grill Famous Sausage Dogs also have food to go with the brews.

Bands play in the band shell. It will be worth a return trip on Sunday afternoon to hear the Lucy Hammond Band featuring Ben Rice.

Park benches provide a place to sit, or you may want to bring a camp chair. The event is pet-friendly and there is a free bike check-in. You must be age 21 or older to be admitted, so leave the kids and teens at home with appropriate supervision.

I will be looking forward to this festival for years to come.

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