By Aaron Swaney Herald Writer
Unlike big music festivals, the stage will be secondary at the gathering Saturday in downtown Everett.
Instead, it’s the beer garden that will be garnering all the attention.
“Hoyt is essentially going to look like a rather large beer garden,” said Washington Beer Commission executive director Eric Radovich of the inaugural Everett Craft Beer Festival.
Everett and Snohomish County will be in the spotlight as they play host to one of the WBC’s six annual craft beer festivals.
The first event in Everett is expected to draw more than 3,000 people looking to imbibe some of the best craft beer from around the state, with a focus on Northwest Washington breweries.
“We’re excited about partnering with Everett,” Radovich said. “Everett feels like a good match.”
Tasked with promoting the craft beer industry throughout the state of Washington, which is home to more than 150 craft breweries, Radovich and the Washington Beer Commission use the annual festivals to attract craft beer fans and showcase some of the state’s best microbreweries. More than 10,000 people attend the annual festivals, according the WBC website.
“The Northwest is really a hotbed for the craft industry,” Radovich said. “And it’s such a connected group. Guys share ideas, share hops, share kegs and these breweries are selling the beer as fast as they can make it.”
Two years ago, there were just three craft beer festivals in Washington and all three were in the Seattle area, leaving many craft beer fans out in the cold.
Radovich and the WBC were charged with creating up to nine more annual festivals to spread their message. The first city that made sense, Radovich said, was Spokane, simply because it was on the eastern side of the state. Next up was Bremerton in 2011 because of the burgeoning craft beer scene on the Kitsap peninsula.
Because of the better-than-expected turnouts in Spokane and Bremerton — which had nearly 2,000 more people than originally expected — the WBC decided to add another event in 2012. They chose Everett.
“We wanted to expand our reach north of Seattle and Everett just made sense,” Radovich said. “It’s a great region for beer including Edmonds, Lynnwood up to the Skagit Valley and Bellingham and we wanted a festival that would incorporate those areas.”
As for the festival itself, 26 Washington breweries, including Snohomish County breweries Scuttlebutt Brewing, Lazy Boy Brewing, Gallaghers’ Where-U-Brew, Diamond Knot Brewing and American Brewing, will be in attendance pouring more than 60 different beers (see sidebar). Festivalgoers can visit the tents, try food from local businesses and street vendors, and take in some live music.
Radovich is careful to point out that the Washington Beer Commission festival has never had any incidents where the police had to be called. They also are partnering with local taxi companies to coordinate rides home, and the Holiday Inn for those who may want to stay the night.
“This is not a frat party,” Radovich said. “These are well-educated people looking to discover new beers, not get drunk.”
Everett Craft Beer Festival
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Hoyt Avenue between Pacific and Hewitt avenues in downtown Everett.
Admission: $15 advance tickets are available online at washingtonbeer.com and at selected outlets.
Tickets at the door will be $20. Ticket includes a tasting glass and five tasting tokens (one 5-ounce taste per token). Additional tokens available for $1.50 each or four for $5.
Breweries: American Brewing Company, Brickyard Brewing, Chuckanut Brewery, Diamond Knot Brewing, Dirty Bucket Brewing, Elysian Brewing Company, Emerald City Beer Company, Fish Brewing Company, Foggy Noggin Brewing, Fremont Brewing, Gallaghers’ Where U Brew, Georgetown Brewing, Harmon Brewing, Hood Canal Brewery, Lazy Boy Brewing Company, Maritime Pacific Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, North Sound Brewing, Odin Brewing, Ram Restaurant &Brewery, Roslyn Brewing Company, Scuttlebutt Brewing Company, Silver City Brewery, Sound Brewery, Twelve Bar Brews, Two Beers Brewing.