Beer won’t be the only brew on the menu at Saturday’s Olympia Brew Fest. Coffee will also get a day in the sun, thanks to the trendiness of coffee beers.
“It’s really gained a lot of popularity over the last two or three years,” said festival organizer Mike Marohn, who attended the Northwest Coffee Beer Invitational in January in Portland.
“They do it not only in porters and stouts, but they do it in lagers and every kind of beer you can imagine,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s a trend that we’re starting to see, and I think it’s great.”
If the combination of stimulant and depressant might seem unlikely, “the flavors can be very complementary,” he said.
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Among the 60-plus beers and ciders from 32 Northwest brewers at the Olympia fest will be at least two brewed with coffee: Mike in the Morning Coffee Porter by Farmstrong Brewing of Mount Vernon, and Lacey Lager infused with coffee by Lacey’s Top Rung Brewing.
There’ll also be a tea beer — Green Tea Saison by Olympia’s Cascadia Brewing. And there’ll be one that evokes but isn’t a milkshake — Puyallup River Brewing’s Mexican Milkshake Imperial Milk Stout, made with cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, ghost pepper and cinnamon for a sweet and spicy flavor.
Ciders also are getting in on the beverage-imitates-beverage act with Oregon Sangria by Portland Cider and Mojito Madness by Olympia’s Tart Cider.
The festival typically draws 2,500-3,000 people and raises $30,000-$35,000 for the Thurston County Chamber Foundation’s Small Business Incubator, Marohn said.
If the beer is the biggest draw, the live music is probably No. 2. Marohn is particularly excited about this year’s lineup, which includes Seattle power-pop quartet The Hoot Hoots, who describe themselves as “irresistible party starters,” plus a special appearance by “Jeffrey Elvis,” aka Jeffrey Fullner of Lynden, who’ll sing with Olympia’s Strike Nine.
The festival also features food, including the Chehalis tribe’s grilled salmon, plus barbecue, flatbreads and chicken Caesar salad, and games.
“A really popular event is the hula-hoop slalom,” Marohn said. “You’re supposed to hula hoop through the slalom course. Very few people make it.” (Check it out at tinyurl.com/y8pm3g3z.)
The competition is fun for spectators as well as participants, and that’s the idea.
“It’s a brew fest but also a celebration,” he said. “We’re trying to celebrate the brewing heritage of Olympia and just have a big party.”
“It’s a good time,” Rob Rayment of Olympia told The Olympian during last year’s fest. “It’s a bunch of hanging out and drinking beer.”
The recent hot weather doesn’t worry the festival organizers, who are prepared with a mister tent and a shade tent. “Two years ago, temperatures were in the 90s, and it was still decently attended,” Marohn said.
Keeping the beer cool is a concern, though.
“After the first brew fest, we realized that we need a lot of ice,” he said. “We’ll have a trailer with 3 1/2 tons of ice in it to make sure everything stays nice and cold.”
Olympia Brew Fest
Olympia’s sixth annual brew festival will feature beers and ciders from 32 Northwest breweries, plus food and music. Proceeds benefit the Thurston County Chamber Foundation’s Small Business Incubator.
When: 1 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5
Where: Port Plaza, Port of Olympia
Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door; $5 for designated drivers, who’ll get unlimited root beer as well as water. Tickets include six tastes and a commemorative mug.
More information: 360-357-3362, olybrewfest.com.
Also: The event is open only to those 21 and older.
1:15 p.m. The Wanderin’ Kind (rock and roll)
3:45 p.m. Strike Nine (classic rock), joined at 4:30 by Jeffrey “Jeffrey Elvis” Fullner
6:15 p.m. The Hoot Hoots (fuzzy power pop)