2nd Annual Winter Beer Festival – McMenamins Anderson School

Like most of the events I attend, this one decided upon last minute. Now my reasons for this tendency is less about preparation and more about “the oh sh_t there is an event happening today” lack thereof. So we loaded up in the Eat Sleep Craft Beer F-350 and headed up to Bothell.

McMenamins 2nd Annual Winter Beer Festival Poster

It was rainy and overcast but thankfully had stopped snowing for a few days when I received the notification on FB that the McMenamins Anderson School location in Bothell Washington was hosting their 2nd Annual Winter Beer Festival. Boasting 53 handcrafted Ales & Ciders from themselves and 22 other Independent Breweries there was something to be enjoyed by every level of beer enthusiast. I can say I was truly impressed with the range of selections offered.

McMenamins 2nd Annual Winter Fest Collectable Glass

Admission was free (awesome) and a souvenir glass plus 12 tokens cost you a mere $28. Now I can already hear some of you say $28?!? Yes, say it with me aloud.. Twenty-Eight dollars. Considering the heavy pours at the tap tables I really don’t feel like I overpaid. Especially after our last beer event in Bend Oregon where they were handing out extremely plastic mugs from an entirely different past event and charging $10 for each one. Needless to say this was a nice surprise.

The Mighty Dreadful

Upon entering the event folksy country music played on the stage, and laughter and conversation was all around. At least 80 people were in attendance when my wife and I arrived, and it eventually grew to near 110-120 people but it didn’t feel overcrowded. In fact, people were very pleasant and friendly. I met more people than I can count and had good conversations with just about everyone I came into contact with.

I had the good fortune of meeting one of the brewers for this McMenamins location Mr. Mark Anthony Harris and another that is transitioning from the Queen Anne spot to the new Tacoma location Mr. Nick Webber. No not the one from Hot Tub Time Machine. 😛

Mark Harris, Nick Webber and my dumbass. 😛

We hung out in the brewing area had some rad conversation about whats shakin in the world of Pacific Northwest beer, and that rascally Riverbend Brewer- the infamous Mike Brady. Good times were had and I was even blessed with a first taste of this amazing Marzen that Mark has created. Needless to say I wanted to drag the whole barrel back to my truck and run home with it like Gollum with that damn ring. When this hits the tap you’d better believe I’ll be there!

I next found myself back in the common area where I sampled beers from Diamond Knot Craft Brewing, Dreadnaught Brewing, Lake Stevens Brewing and some more from McMenamins. I could have just posted up between these breweries tables and been a happy boy. But there was much more to do so away we went beer in hand and lots of questions to be asked.

I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Ken Tompkins from Dreadnaught about their amazing Chocolate Jesus Oatmeal Stout they had on tap. Whoa.. was that a great tasting beer with a session-able 5.3% ABV. Decadent chocolate as smooth as a Marvin Gaye love song this beer made its way into my glass a total of 3 times. They also brought their Gypsy Wolf India Pale Ale which ended up being one of my wife’s favorites of the night. If you want a solid beer while in the Monroe Washington area get over to Dreadnaught.

From here we wandered around conversating with just about anyone willing to share their opinion and favorites of the event. There were serious beer enthusiasts as well as people who just like craft beer. Each had interesting stories to share and lots of smiles. Each bit of information shared helped me develop the understanding that this was truly about community. People from all walks of life and interests coming together with a single common interest. And it was pretty damn rad.

The night ended with the wife and I sitting around one of the many fire pits with a couple of slices and the company of a group of people that was the icing on the cake. One couple who the husband had immigrated from Mexico to the States and his view on the beer scene there compared to here. Ricardo was passionate about his American citizenship and his beer. He was truly a fun person to spend time with.

Another couple that was looking to expand their appreciation for different beers but wanted recommendations. The husband was a classic IPA fan but was hesitant about darker ales due to their heaviness. Inside my head, while he was explaining his disappointment with the Stouts and Porters he had purchased before I was formulating a plan to help change his mind and bring him over to the “Darkside.” (insert Darth Vader breathing sound)

Dru Bru Bru Ski

I then offered to “buy” him a beer that would blow his preconceptions when i walked him over to Dru Bru‘s tap table. I tossed two tokens in the cup and politely asked for two Bru Ski’s. And if you’ve been paying attention to my YouTube vlog you’ll remember this beer featured in one of my recent videos. The look on his face when he first tasted the Dark German Lager was absolutely priceless. At this moment I was like welcome to your gateway beer. Quickly finishing his first taste he immediately wanted another and we walked back to the fire pit where we originally met. He then proceeds to tell his wife that this is his new favorite beer. I give him some background on the Snoqualmie Pass Brewery and how I try to get up there as often as I can.

Eat Sleep Craft Beer

It’s about this time that realize it’s been 6 hours since we arrived when it felt like no more than an hour tops. It’s insane how quickly time passes when you are enjoying yourself. The wife and I drive home from the event and the air is filled with us sharing our favorite memories of the night, the beers we enjoyed and the great people we met in our time here. It was truly one of our best dates in awhile. And we can’t wait for the next one.

Cheers Everyone.