The Seattle International Beerfest is upon us once again, with Fisher Pavilion becoming a celebration of, in the organizers' words, "rare, hard-to-find, exotic beers"—hundreds of them—from Friday, August 22, through Sunday, August 24. Though hot weather isn't necessarily the best for drinking imperial stouts, big IPAs, barleywines, and strong ales, the heavy beers are in abundance and come recommended (and Beerfest at least offers them in mercifully small four-ounce pours).
This year, a handful of American brewers are bringing the most interesting selections to the table: Louisville, Kentucky's Against the Grain, whose bottles aren't frequently seen up here, is supplying 70K, a behemoth 13.1 percent imperial milk stout, and Kentucky Ryed Chiquen, a bourbon-barrel-aged American red ale. It seems unlikely we'll see either again here soon. Denver mainstays Great Divide will be pouring both 2010 Espresso Oak Aged Yeti, another massive stout that's had time for its alcohol to mellow and flavors to likely change considerably from when it was kegged, and a Syrah-barrel-aged Flanders red ale, an unconventional combination and a possibly very welcome new style for them. Hood River favorites Double Mountain, in addition to their standard beers, are serving Sinister 7, a wood-aged brown ale; previous Sourfest favorite Devil's Kriek, a massive Flanders red ale; and Tahoma Kriek, a funky Brettanomyces-fermented beer, aged respectively on bing and Rainier cherries. Finally, Fremont's Kentucky Dark Star and Bourbon Abominable are among the best beers made in Washington State, and this is as good an opportunity as any to try them if you haven't yet (and are still standing).