Seattle is known for rain. When I tell people I live here, they tend to ask if the weather is really that depressing. Interestingly, it’s not, though we do get quite a lot of cloud cover. And people stick it out through all the rain and cloud because the summers here are absolutely glorious.
You know another thing that Seattle (and the Pacific Northwest) is known for? Beer! We had the best of Seattle summer this last weekend when we volunteered for (and enjoyed) the Seattle International Beerfest.
The Beerfest Experience
It’s exactly what it sounds like: a weekend of beer from various countries. This year there were over 200 beers and ciders from 15 countries, mostly the US, Belgium, and Germany. The event was held at Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center.
Volunteers poured draft beers from coolers set up under tents on the green outside of the pavilion, or from bottles at tables inside. You get a 4 oz sampler glass and buy beer tickets worth a dollar each. A sample of beer costs anywhere from one to seven tickets, but most were in the one to two range. There were also food stalls scattered throughout the grounds (hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, burritos, gyros, ribs, Dutch pancakes, kettle corn). Get a beer, grab a hot dog or burrito, chill on the grass. Rinse and repeat.
I don’t particularly love beer, but there’s always cider — they were pouring Crispin blackberry cider for three tickets per pint at the Grande Beer Garden, a pretty good deal and way better than happy hour pricing in most places. I’d also argue that this is the best possible event for a non-beer drinker. With the host of different beers available to try, odds are they won’t all be disgusting! I had a couple of beers I’d definitely order if I find them at a bar, which I would count as a win (for the curious, I enjoyed the Brasserie Grain d’Orge’s Belzebuth; 13% alcohol with some sweet and very little bitter flavors).
The Volunteer Experience
Volunteering meant a 3-hour shift pouring four different beers or ciders (or two if you were on draft instead of bottles). And the rewards? Free entrance for the weekend, a sampler glass, a shirt, and 15 tickets. You could also volunteer for a second shift (they have to be consecutive) for twice as many tickets. Was it worth it? I’d say so, with a bit of a caveat.
You can try out the stuff you’re pouring so you’re supposedly better able to describe it to the masses. However, you only got a one oz cup to taste with. So…yeah, not really sure how much I can really say about one ounce of something. Plus, it’s kind of mean to make people pour beers for three hours after only having sipped tiny amounts! There could’ve been a bit more generosity there.
We volunteered for the last shift on Friday night and thus had the rest of the weekend to drink and enjoy–you don’t get your tickets and glass until the end of your shift. When we arrived the next day, the lines for beer were crazy long, since most attendees show up on Saturday. I think I would’ve been exhausted after pouring for three hours if I’d done a Saturday shift! So I wouldn’t recommend that.
Still, all the staff and organizers were super helpful and friendly. And all the customers were happy and chill, and no one was douchey. Then again, with a belly full of beer, who wouldn’t feel goodwill toward the world…
Will we go to Beerfest again? You bet! And we’ll probably volunteer again, because the rewards were pretty good and the experience was fun. And, after all, our livers have a whole year to recover.