Eight Tasting Strategies for the Washington Brewers Festival

This year's WABF marks the 12th annual and my, oh my are there a lot of beers to try. The line up this year includes 130 breweries and approximately 500 different beers. I don't know about you but I could use a strategy other than wandering around aimlessly in an alcohol-induced haze. So, below are eight strategies for getting the relative most out of your eight tasting tokens at the Washington Brewers Festival. And, hey, even if they don't all yield a fantastic beer-tasting experience for you, you'll at least be satisfied that you accomplished something. 

My friend, Sherry, totally accomplishing something.

My friend, Sherry, totally accomplishing something.

If you want the biggest challenge, skip to the bottom for the Scavenger Hunt. You can even download the PDF to take with you. There are no prizes, except the wealth of information you may learn from asking questions and getting to know people. And who doesn't want that?

Alpha by City

Pick one brewery from the cities that start with the letter "whatever" in alphabetical order. For instance, Orlison, Anacortes and Skookum come from Airway Heights, Anacortes and Arlington respectively. Pick one to try. Your mind is made up for you with letters such as "D", (River Time Brewing in Darrington, the only brewery from a city in the "D's") but not so much with "S" because of, um, Seattle. You'll end up tasting 17 beers with this method so split it with a friend. Remember, drunk in public is not sexy.

Alpha by Brewery Name

Same thing only with brewery names. Pick one in the category of the letter "A": Airways, Anacortes, Ashtown, Aslan or At Large, and so on through the alphabet. Get a couple of friends to share this strategy with; you'll go through 23 beers.

Follow the Signs

Choose your first beer, then ask the server what they recommend next. A great way to discover new beers and not have to decide on anything!

Random Strangers

Just like the above only you ask random strangers. If you're interested in meeting fellow beer-lovers and making friends this is a great way to go. Side note: this is the strategy I'll be taking Friday night as a part of a social media collaboration project for the Washington Beer Commission.

Interesting Beers

Pick beers you've either never tried or have barely tried before but that sound interesting. Off the top of my head: Tripel, (not Triple) radler, Berliner Weisse, Maibock, Biere de Garde, Schwarzbier, shandy and wheat wine.

Fruit and Spice

Just get 10 samples of fruit and/or spice beer for giggles. They're a thing these days so you might as well get used to 'em.

Barrel Aged

If you like your high ABV beers, this is guaranteed to get your party started. Barrel-aged beers are usually in the imperial range because the weight of the beer can handle the introduction of wood and any leftover spirit in the barrel.

Scavenger Hunt

You may have to do some research to figure out what's going on below. Lucky for you, I got almost all of these suggestions from this handy document: WABF Beer List and Descriptions. Also, not every beer will be available, as some are more popular than others and things always change at the last minute, so I've given some alternates at the bottom. Do your best to get through the first eight, though, and enjoy feeling "smurter" than ever!

  1. A beer you can turn pink at the festival. This traditional style was often turned pink or green before drinking. With what instrument was this beer typically consumed?
  2. A beer with "hop powder". This method for delivering hop flavor is cutting edge. How is it made?
  3. A beer made with local malt. Which city does our local, Washington State, malt come from?
  4. A beer Dick Cantwell would be proud of. Hint: look for his last name in the description and, no, it's not an Elysian beer. Where can you find him these days?
  5. A beer from a brewery with a female brewer. Do you know what the Pink Boots Society is?
  6. A braggot. Huh? What the heck is a braggot?
  7. A beer with Brettanomyces in it. What is "Brett" and in which beer style is it typically used?
  8. A cask beer. What's the difference between kegged and casked beer?


  • A beer aged in wine barrels
  • A collaboration beer
  • A beer from a brewery with a themed booth. For example, "island" or "pirate" or "haunted house".
  • A nitro beer
  • A randled beer
  • A beer with tree tips in it
  • A beer poured for you by the head brewer

Download our Scavenger Beer Hunt here.

Get more information and your tickets to the Washinton Brewers Festival here.