Toasting local brews

Vancouver's reputation as a destination for beer festivals grows as the Who's Your Daddy? kicks off summer events

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter


photoArlene Nuñez, founder of the Who's Your Daddy? beerfest, shows off the tin foil hat she made at last year's event.

Upcoming beer festivals

June 7-8: Who’s Your Daddy Brewfest (in association with By The Bottle), Turtle Place Park, Seventh and Washington streets, $20 admission, Facebook page.

June 14-16: Vancouver Summer Brewfest (in association with the Vancouver Marathon), Esther Short Park, Eighth and Columbia streets, $24 admission, more info at marathon website.

Aug. 9-11: Vancouver Brewfest, Esther Short Park, admission price not yet fixed, more info at website.

Dec. 13-15: Vancouver Winter Brewfest, Esther Short Park, admission price not yet fixed, more info at website.

Just two years ago, Clark County was a dry, barren landscape for fans of beer festivals.

In those days, poor, parched fans of the black, amber and golden nectars had to make the dreaded trip over the Columbia River to get to the nearest celebration.

All that changed in 2012, with the launch of Vancouver's first three brewfests — and 2013 is looking even busier, with four festivals, including one that kicks off today at Turtle Place Park.

Who's Your Daddy? beerfest, the city's first outdoor beer festival, began four years ago as a fundraiser for CDM Services.

It was originally held inside By The Bottle, but by 2012 it grew too large for the store, so owner Arlene Nuñez rented Turtle Place Park for the event and moved it outside.

The festival features at least 20 unusual beers from 15 small Washington brewers, including four from Clark County: Mt. Tabor, Loowit, Heathen and the Old Ivy Tap Room.

Originally named for Father's Day, the festival is being held a week earlier this year to avoid the extra traffic issues from the Vancouver USA Marathon and to give people a chance to visit both Who's Your Daddy? and the new Vancouver Summer Brewfest launching with this year's marathon.

CDM Services, the charity for Who's Your Daddy?, employs about 200 people in Southwest Washington and provides heath care services to adults. And the festival has been an increasingly successful fundraiser for it.

It netted $3,000 the first year, $6,000 the second and $15,000 last year, Nuñez said.

This year, Who's Your Daddy? has expanded to two days, and Nuñez hopes it will net even more for the charity.

"I'm hoping to double that effort," Nuñez said.

The event also has some silly traditions, including one where visitors are encouraged to create their own hats out of aluminum foil and show them off. Winners in the Anything Goes and Best Beer-Related Hat categories get prizes.

There will also be a short parade by hat wearers around downtown before the prizes are given out, Nuñez said.

If that doesn't fully quench your thirst, the Vancouver Summer Brewfest might. From June 14-16, it will feature 20 brewers, including five from Clark County (Mt. Tabor, Loowit, Heathen, McMenamins on the Columbia and Highland), and 40 taps.

It will feature local food vendors and live music on Friday night and a DJ for the rest of the festivities.

Brian Davis decided to add it to the Vancouver USA Marathon, which he also organizes, this year as a way to broaden the appeal of the event and because his Vancouver Winter Brewfest, which launched in December, was so successful.

"We saw we could do other events not strictly related to running," Davis said of his company, Energy Events. "We want to capitalize on the growth in the (Clark County beer) industry and support our local brewers."

About 2,300 people showed up at the Vancouver Winter Brewfest, which was held in heated tents at Esther Short Park, and he hopes the good summer weather will bring out about twice that number.

"Friday, Saturday, Sunday," Davis said. "Let's do it. We're ready."

The 2,400 people who have signed up for the marathon also get free admission to the brewfest, which costs $24 at the gate for all three days.

He said he's thrilled to see four beer festivals growing in the city, and that there's probably still room for a few more. His Vancouver Winter Brewfest will return in December.

"I think we're opening people's eyes that, 'Hey, Vancouver's here, we got great scenery, great people and you don't have to go to Portland,'" he said.

When August rolls around, the Vancouver Brewfest, the biggest outdoor beer event in the city, will be back in Esther Short Park for its second year — and it's grown bigger, much like Who's Your Daddy?

"Things went so well last year that we've added a third day, Sunday, to the lineup," said co-organizer Cody Gray. "We also expect 90 percent of our vendors to be back."

The ever-increasing pool of brewers in Clark County (there are at least 11 of them) can make it hard to line them all up for the festival, but Gray said he hopes they'll all be able to participate.

"I'm hoping we can get two beers from everybody,"

Last year's event had 25 brewers, and by the end, almost all of their taps were empty — as were the pantries of all the food vendors.

The event drew 5,000 people over two days in 2012, and Gray said he's hoping this year's event will draw 8,000.

The festival will raise money for four charities: Disabled American Veterans, Humane Society for Southwest Washington, Metropolitan Performing Arts Academy and the Children's Center.

"It's a great event," Gray said. "We just want everybody to come down, have fun and support the community."