Wonderfully Weird

New festival at Marina Park is enjoyed by beer drinkers and others

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"It's such a cool spot. There are all these different beers to try. There is music. It is a beautiful night."

-- Tom Lyse, Weird Beer on the River festival attendee

“It’s such a cool spot. There are all these different beers to try. There is music. It is a beautiful night.”

— Tom Lyse, Weird Beer on the River festival attendee

You did not need to be a beer drinker to enjoy the Weird Beer on the River festival, in Washougal this weekend. The first-time event, which involved more than 20 beer and cider breweries, also had soda, bottled water and Copper Ridge and Hayes Ranch wines. Designated drivers were admitted for $5, compared to the regular $20 entry fee.

Everyone who showed up Friday and Saturday got to enjoy views of the Columbia River from Marina Park, and listen to live music.

The variety of beer flavors, however, was the main attraction for the fundraiser for CDM Caregiving Services, a non-profit organization based in Vancouver. It provides services that enable individuals with long-term care needs to stay in their own homes.

Event organizers challenged brewers to create and serve their weirdest brews made from ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, candy, seafood and food-grade insects.

There were no insects or seafood involved in the making of any of the various beers.

Fremont Brewing, of Seattle, provided tastings of “Summer Sushi Pale Ale,” at its booth. It was infused with pickled ginger and nori (seaweed). Other Fremont flavors were Pina Colada IPA and Summer Ale with tangerine flower.

Ryan Leighton, of Fern Prairie, sampled some of the Summer Sushi Pale Ale.

“It’s not great, but it was something different,” he said.

Leighton also tried the “Hawaiian Sunburn-Pineapple Habanero Sour, created by Elysian Brewing, of Seattle.

“It has a lot of character,” he said regarding the combination of flavors.

“Mill City [Brew Werks] has a couple of great beers,” Leighton added, regarding the Red Beard IRA and the Alpha Ale IPA. “I love supporting those guys.”

In addition to Mill City, of Camas, local participants included Amnesia Brewing and Doomsday Brewing, both of Washougal.

Mill City Owner Mark Zech described Marina Park as a great venue.

“You can’t beat the view,” he said. “It’s a perfect space for a brewfest.”

Entertaining options

In addition to drinking, eating and people watching, festival attendees listened to live music.

“Strange Brew” has members of several bands, including Frank Murray, a guitarist/vocalist with “Petty Fever.”

A drone flew over the crowd Friday, as the “King Brothers” performed songs such as “Margaritaville” and “Runaround Sue.”

The “Oregon Trailers” featured 1970s country hits Saturday afternoon.

Food options included taco salad, chili and jambalaya.

Tom Lyse tried the alligator sausage, at a Southern-inspired booth.

“It was really tasty,” he said. “The sauce had crawfish and jalapenos.”

Lyse, a Camas paper mill employee for 36 years, hopes the festival returns to Marina Park next year.

“It’s such a cool spot,” he said. “There are all these different beers to try. There is music. It is a beautiful night.”

Alex Ramirez, owner of Alex BBQ, of Washougal, served barbecue chicken and ribs. His food is available at Amnesia Brewing and through catering orders.

Carmen McKibben, at the Vida Flare booth, from Vancouver, sold Sonoran hot dogs wrapped in bacon and topped with pico de gallo and other ingredients. Urbano hot dogs featured cucumbers, red onions, carrots and red salsa from Southwest chiles.

A festival is envisioned

In 2014, Washougal Mayor Sean Guard invited CDM Executive Director Eric Erickson to see the Oktoberfest at Amnesia Brewing. It featured beer, food and live music.

Guard told Erickson he wanted to have a similar event at Marina Park, by the Port of Camas-Washougal marina, 24 S. “A” St., and wondered if that was something CDM would be interested in doing.

There had been a beer festival fundraiser for CDM, in Vancouver, in 2012 and 2013, but not in 2014.

“The breweries have been fantastic,” Erickson said Friday afternoon, about this year’s festival. “It’s been a dream.”