Breweries are kind of like candy factories: They tend to smell strongly of sugar, consuming too much of what comes out of them will probably give you a headache, and they're not always open to the public, as both brewing beer and making candy can be time-consuming, intense processes that require more than a little attention to detail, lest someone lose a finger.

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Fortunately, you don't need to win a golden ticket to see what happens in Washington's breweries, as on February 22 from noon until 5 p.m. a lot of them will be hosting open houses. If you've ever been curious as to how beer gets made—or specifically how your favorite brewery runs—it's a great opportunity to be guided through the brewing process from water to wort to fermented liquid in a bottle (or can, or keg, or what-have-you). You'll get to meet brewers and ask them annoying questions about your homebrew, learn the stories and maybe the secrets of local beers, find out before anyone else what they're releasing next, and maybe get to sample new products early. Most importantly, you'll also almost always get to try a rare beer or three, sometimes directly from the tanks.

A full list of participating breweries and events isn't available yet (check washingtonbeer.com/open-house for more), but last year I got to learn about Fremont Brewing's barrel-aging and sour programs while trying a one-off bourbon barleywine, saw how beer gets made at Maritime Pacific, and then took a nap (both not driving and a healthy supply of water are recommended). There are events in Seattle and all over the state, with breweries on the Eastside (Black Raven), in Yakima and the Tri-Cities (Bale Breaker and White Bluffs), and in Tacoma (Harmon and Wingman Brewers) taking part. recommended

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