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SIB Celebrates Beer From Everywhere
By Don Scheidt

The 2005 edition of the Seattle International Beerfest (SIB) opened under a typical Northwest ceiling of leaden clouds, but lack of blue skies didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of happy attendees, who enjoyed choosing from dozens of imported and locally produced beers of all styles. And by Sunday, the blue skies were out in force, making an already great brewfest that much better.

The festival came early this year, held July 1–3, 2005, at the Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater grounds. The event featured lagers and ales from Europe, North America and Japan, some poured from bottles, and many served on draught. New domestic draughts at this year’s SIB included Walking Man Brewery’s Staggering Monk Belgian-style double and Baron Brewing’s Rauchbier among the 46 beers pouring from SIB taps. There were bottled beers aplenty, 70 of them, including Rochefort 10 Trappist ale, now imported by Merchant du Vin, along with Orval and Westmalle Trappist Tripel. Belgian beers (and domestic Belgian-style brews) once again ruled the show, but there were solid efforts from elsewhere too.

SIB was the place to be to taste malty, caramelly Black Boss Porter from Poland, an impressive Baltic porter weighing in at 9.4% abv but almost too easy to drink. Those wanting to go off the deep end of the strong-beer scale could do it with Dogfish Head’s World Wide Stout, easily SIB’s “biggest” beer at 18% abv. Other new bottled beers at SIB included Cassissona, a “lagered ale” from Italy flavored with currants; Allagash Double and Triple, spearheading the Maine Belgian-style specialty brewer’s entry into the Seattle market; and Uerige Doppel Sticke, a bock-strength version of Uerige’s legendary limited-release Sticke, available only in the U.S.A. in bottles and gravity-dispense kegs.

Drinking great beer and helping support a good cause — who could resist?

There was no shortage of impressive draught beers from elsewhere, either: La Rulles Triple, La Divine from Brasserie de Silly, Urthel Triple, Abbaye des Rocs Triple Imperial (a dark triple!) and Pierre Celis Grotten Brown were just some of the delightful Belgian specialties served alongside my personal favorite, Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe. And a special shout-out to the Petit Déjeuner Belgian-style strong amber ale from Far West Brewing in exotic Redmond, Wash. German and German-style beers also showed well on draught, including tasty samples of Ayinger Brau-Weisse, Diebels Alt, Spaten Optimator and the Northwest’s own Aviator Doppelbock from Anacortes Brewing.

Besides beery good times, there was plenty of good-time old-fashioned music on stage from the likes of Ruby Dee & the Snakehandlers and the Haggis Brothers, just a couple of the half-dozen live bands on hand to entertain the SIB crowd. A separate beer garden featured generous pours of Pilsner Urquell on draught to go with festival snacks and munchies. A cigar stand featured a wide range of stogies on offer, and the Rat City Rollergirls showed up as “celebrity bartenders” on Saturday night.

Best of all, hosts, organizers and self-proclaimed “product testing managers” Rick Carpenter and Tanya Weitz designate a substantial chunk of festival proceeds to funding Pet Cross, a small nonprofit group dedicated to helping raise awareness and promote responsible treatment of animals both tame and wild. Drinking great beer and helping support a good cause — who could resist?
For those who couldn’t make it to Seattle, the Portland International Beerfest, held July 15–17 in the Pearl District’s North Park Blocks, offered another three days of great beer selections in an outdoor setting.

If you couldn’t attend the SIB this year, consider going in 2006, and check out the festival’s Web site, seattlebeerfest.com, for next year’s dates. Until then, Prost!

Don Scheidt is an associate editor of the Celebrator Beer News and author of the Northwest BrewPage (nwbrewpage.com). He also writes about beer for the Seattle Weekly (seattleweekly.com) and can be reached via e-mail at dgs1300@hotmail.com.


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