On Friday April 17th and Saturday the 18th, 2015 the 9th annual Leavenworth Ale Fest served up over 40 different regional ales and ciders to the thirsty crowds who gathered at the Leavenworth Festhalle. With a range of brewers from Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and even Germany, it’s a great opportunity to discover new brews, and enjoy some of the best live music the area has to offer. Monies raised by the festival go to support the non-profit Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, home to one of the world’s largest nutcracker collections, which is located in the center of downtown Bavarian-themed Leavenworth, WA.
This year the festival returned to a 2-day format, just like the first three years, adding 5 additional hours of brew sampling and music on Friday night. Tickets sell for $20 – $35 in advance depending on entry for one day or both days, and the cost includes your souvenir tasting cup and 3 drink tokens. Additional drink tokens can be purchased for $1 each and tastings are 1 or 2 tokens.
Festival goers meandered down the aisles sampling ales, ambers, IPAs, Hefeweizens, blondes, reds, pilsners, porters, lagers, and a range of ciders, learning about the breweries, picking up free swag, and enjoying great music.
Breweries involved included Alpine, Badger Mountain, Bale Breaker, D’s Wicked Cider, Deschutes, Elysian, Fish, Fremont, Georgetown, Harmon, Icicle, Iron Horse, Lagunitas, Neigel Vintners, Ninkasi, Pyramid, Radeberger, Schilling, Sierra Nevada, Sockeye, Stone, Whiskey Barrel Cider, 10 Barrel, and 2 Towns Ciderhouse.
Tunes were provided by regional bands including The Hoyer Bros., Blake Noble, Open Country Joy, Shaggy Sweet, and Lindee Hoshikawa projecting a wide range of moods from funk to blues to soul to pop.
Food was available for purchase from the Cheesemonger Shop and the festival’s Designated Drivers Booth that served up fresh grilled brats and BBQ. There was also a “Tomobla,” a German-style raffle, which awarded lucky patrons with a variety of unique and fun awards, as well as a photo area where everyone had the opportunity to have their picture taken with the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum’s famous mascot Karl, a six-foot tall custom-made wooden nutcracker.
After 14 hours of tasting, dancing, and socializing, the festival comes to a close with the awards ceremony on Saturday night. With over 40 brews to sample, judges select winners in categories for each style of brew including Best IPA, Best Pale Ale, etc. and the top award, Best in Show. Awards are presented in the form of a cloth banner boasting their greatness.
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum invites everyone to come to next year’s event which is sure to offer new ales and ciders to quench your thirst and music to soothe your soul. For more information on the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum visit http://www.nutcrackermuseum.com/. Stay tuned to http://www.leavenworthalefest.com/ for information about Ale Fest 2016 and to purchase your tickets in advance. Cheers!