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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Feb. 20, 2024

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Raise a glass as beer fests return to downtown Vancouver

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A variety of local bands will take the stage during the Craft Beer & Wine Fest this weekend in Esther Short Park.
A variety of local bands will take the stage during the Craft Beer & Wine Fest this weekend in Esther Short Park. (Contributed photo) Photo Gallery

After a pandemic pause, two festivals offering a chance to drink adult beverages in Vancouver’s Esther Short Park return this summer.

The Craft Beer & Wine Fest kicks off its ninth year on Friday. The weekend-long event focuses on both fermented and distilled drinks. It features 60 craft 60 craft beer taps 20 wineries, as well as spirits, food trucks and booths selling artisan goods.

Then Aug. 12-13, Vancouver Summer Brewfest returns with 40 Washington craft breweries, food trucks and live music.

Musical acts at this weekend’s Craft Beer & Wine Festival include Police tribute band SOS on Friday; reggae and R&B band True Vibez on Saturday; and Legendary Beers Bloodys & Blues on Sunday.

Each of the 60 craft breweries will offer three styles of beer. New this year are an expanded hard-cider section (with some from Heathen Brewing) and a slate of spirits from regional distillers like Vancouver’s own Quartz Mountain Distillers.

Entrance tickets ($30 presale, $35 at the gate) include a souvenir pint or wine glass and 10 tasting tickets. Super passes ($40 in advance, $44 at the gate) come with 20 tasting tickets. Pours vary from tastings to full glasses. Festgoers can use their wristbands for entry all weekend by donating a can of food to the Clark County Food Bank, which also receives proceeds from the event.


After the pandemic put the Vancouver Summer Brewfest on hold, former organizer Cody Gray decided to hand off the event to the Washington Beer Commission.

Brewfest this August will focus on beer tasting. Pours include 5-ounce tastings but not pints.

“It’s not about seeing how many beers you can consume,” said Eric Radovich, executive director of the Washington Beer Commission. “It’s about tasting beers, seeing distinctions and being exposed to different types of beer you might not purchase at the store. We want to open up people’s palates with fresh craft beer from small locally owned breweries and encourage them to go spend their dollars at these businesses.”

Vancouver’s proximity to Portland as well as a growing list of excellent local craft brewers made Esther Short Park a desirable spot for the commission to host an event.

“We want … Portland people to know not only Oregon makes great beer. We have a lot of great beer on the Washington side,” Radovich said.

Booths aren’t staffed by volunteers who may not be familiar with the beer they’re serving. Instead, owners or employees of the brewery serve guests to answer questions and share their knowledge about the beer.

“It’s educational — not just about being at a party,” Radovich said.

Participating breweries include well-known Clark County spots like Brothers Cascadia Brewing, Loowit Brewing Company, Victor 23 Brewing Company, Heathen Brewing Company and 54°40’ Brewing, as well as Washington brewers from elsewhere like Raymond’s Wild Man Brewing Company and Seaview’s North Jetty Brewing. Festival organizers expect to offer beer from over 40 breweries, as well as food from several food trucks with live music in the background.

Tickets range from $30 (early bird) to $35 and include eight 5-ounce tastings. Additional tastes are $2.50 each. The event’s website will add details about food trucks and live music as Aug. 12 approaches.

The event will permit lawn chairs, blankets and outside food, but not pets, outside alcohol, tents, glass bottles and weapons. Volunteers receive free admission to the event. Volunteer shifts and registration are posted on the event’s website.

The Washington Beer Commission was created by the Legislature in 2006. The organization is charged with creating up to 12 beer-tasting festivals per year. Assessments paid by Washington breweries as well as proceeds from the beer-tasting festivals fund this commission. Other Washington State Craft Beer Commission events include Bremerton Summer Brewfest and Washington Beer Fresh Hop Festival in Redmond in the fall.

Rachel Pinsky: couveeats@gmail.com