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.

Crowds gather at the Festhalle for the 2015 Leavenworth Ale Fest

Crowds gather at the Festhalle for the 2015 Leavenworth Ale Fest

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.

Schofferhofer at Alefest

Radeberger represents all the way from Germany

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.

Whiskey Barrel Cider at Ale Fest

Fishing at the Whiskey Barrel Cider booth

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.

Open Country Joy performs at Ale Fest

Open Country Joy from Ellensburg, WA performing at Ale Fest

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.

Menu of food at Ale Fest

Brats & BBQ fresh off the grill satisfied the hungry

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.

Patrons with Karl the 6 foot nutcracker

Photos with Karl!

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.

Ninkasi with Best Lager Award

Ninkasi with Best Lager Award

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!

Group outside at Ale Fest

Happy tasters on the outside patio. Prost!