For natives of the Pacific Northwest, and fans of beer from the region, the Go West Beer Fest is a highlight of the year. A rotating consortium of state societies hosts the annual gathering at Eastern Market's North Hall, pouring beers from their home states and offering a chance for networking, mixing and mingling.
This year's festival, held on Friday, Oct. 4, finds 2012 hosts Oregon, Washington and Montana joined by Idaho and, for the first time, Colorado – the state that produces more microbrews than any other.
The draw for beer geeks who don't hail from the West is that the festival usually features a number of brands that never make it to this side of the continent. Last year, attendees got to drink cans of Moose Drool and Scape Goat from Montana's Big Sky Brewing Company, and Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Chainbreaker White IPA from Oregon's Deschutes, as well as great but more-common beers from Rogue and Redhook. (Oh, for the days when Alaska used to host and bring Alaskan Brewery beers.)
Tickets are $25 and include unlimited food and drink from 7 to 10 p.m., though you might want to have dinner first – last year's snacks didn't extend far beyond tater tots and mini-sandwiches. Also, note that beers tend to start to run out about midway through the party, so if you want to try something in particular, grab it first. The final hour of the 2012 festival featured lots of guests pounding Red Hook after everything else had run out.
You don't need to be a member of a state society – or even from one of the participating states – to purchase tickets. You just have to move quickly. Each society has a limited number to sell, and Montana has already sold its batch. If you're interested in attending, you can buy tickets from your favorite state: Colorado, Idaho, Oregon or Washington.