WinterHop BrewFest 2019

By: Sarah Collins

WinterHop Brew Frest

Ellensburg’s WinterHop BrewFest is one of my favorite events of the entire year! I love getting the chance to spend time back on my old college stomping grounds, while visiting with friends and family and most of all – drinking beer!

It’s an event like no other, held throughout Historic Downtown Ellensburg in Kittitas County, Washington state. This year there were 14 participating locations and 35 participating breweries. The event is only five hours and until this year I had never managed to visit all of the participating businesses. While this felt like quite the accomplishment, we also had our very first broken glass incident… not as much of a positive highlight. He who caused the break, shall remain nameless… JUST KIDDING – it was my cousin, Blake Lucky’s fault.

So how does the event work? At noon, the floodgates open and you’re able to redeem your ticket for the commemorative four oz. tasting glass and five redeemable scripts. Any habitual beer fest attendee will tell you, five tastings is never enough, so we’ve made a habit of purchasing an additional 10 scripts right off the bat.

Once you’ve got your supplies, you’re free to roam downtown redeeming scripts for tasting glasses full of one of the many beers on tap. No open containers are allowed in the streets (this is Central Washington not Las Vegas, Nevada), but no one seems to mind with live music and great company at every location.

WinterHop Brew Fest

I’ll admit, the event got a little bit away from me this year and my notes and photos suffered greatly… shit happens though and luckily I’m already looking forward to 2020!

In the meantime, here are my top highlights from the 2019 event – until next year WinterHop!

Black Cat Gose from Berchman’s Brewing Company

For me, most beer events turn into a quest for the gose because I truly am a sour fiend, but this was my one and only at WinterHop 2019! Strong, punchy blackberry flavors and subtly smooth mouthfeel, this bad boy was delicious and I’d definitely order again.

Buzz On Blackberry

Buzz on Blackberry Wheat Ale from Whipsaw Brewing

As I mentioned in my event recap from last year, this beer will forever hold a special place in my heart! My review stands, “This beer has a super strong blackberry flavor that manages to not overwhelm you thanks to the addition of balancing lemon notes. If I could get this bad boy in a bottle or can, I would be willing to drive great distances to do so.”

Chuckanut Brewery

Single Hop Lager from Chuckanut Brewing

My dad is a big Chuckanut fan and I’d heard an interview them on the Cascadian Beer Podcast (episode can be found – here), so I was really excited to finally try some of their beer. They did not disappoint! Really fresh and crispy flavor with a hoppiness that was strong without punching you straight in the taste buds.

Spiced Peaches N Cream from Laht Neppur Brewing Co.

Aroma is tricky at a beer festival, especially one like WinterHop, where participants are moving from location to location and so many smells are swirling around at any given time. Even still, this beer carried such a spicy sweet that it was able to rise above! Wheat beer meets spicy peach cobbler… yum yum!

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