On Saturday March 31, the Washington Cask Beer Festival returns to Seattle Center's Fisher Pavilion. This year however, the Washington Brewers Guild is the presenting sponsor and the main beneficiary. The festival was originally founded by a handful of Guild member breweries in 2000, one year after the organization was formed, in an effort to create a platform for showcasing what the Washington brewers had to offer. The event remains one of the most popular events for Northwest craft beer lovers and brewers, with over 70 unique, one-of-a-kind beers available, from over 30 breweries, including Airways, Epic Ales, Dick's, Big Al's, Black Raven, Boundary Bay, and more.
The festival requires beers to be naturally conditioned in the cask, without the use of carbon dioxide. These beers are less carbonated than most and are served a little less cold as well, but what you lose in cold and fizz, you gain in flavor and aroma. The small batches brewed for the festival allow brewers to get creative with unique flavor additions and combinations. Last year, there was a rosemary-infused beer from Elysian, a dry-hopped and citrus-infused IPA from Maritime Pacific, and a chocolate stout from Pike Brewing.
Washington Brewers Guild is "a non-profit organization whose mission is to build a community of Washington State brewers, protect and advance their common interests through legislative process, and to promote the quality and value of their beers." More than 60 breweries in the state are members of the Guild and their Executive Committee leads legislative discussions to assure the brewing industry's voice is heard in Olympia. The Washington Beer Commission, who previously organized the Cask Festival, is the Guild's sister organization. The Commission is responsible for consumer marketing, while the Guild focuses on education and community building among the brewing community in addition to lobbying. The Commission continues to organize popular beer events such as Washington Brewers Festival and Belgianfest.
The Cask Festival will host two sessions, from noon to 4pm and from 5:30pm to 9:30pm on Saturday, March 31. Admission is $35 in advance or $40 at the door for each session. The event will feature over 70 cask-conditioned beers including the Herbert's Legendary Cask Festival Ale, a collaborative beer brewed every year in honor of late Bert Gran, a legendary Washington beer icon. Admission includes a commemorative tasting cup and up to 25 sample tastes. Tickets are available online at washingtonbrewersguild.org and at select ticket outlets. The event is expected to sell out so advance ticket purchase is strongly recommended. The complete list of beers has not yet been released, but will be posted at washingtonbrewersguild.org soon.