Guest Post by Marsha Seekins
My husband and I celebrated our 20th-anniversary last year with a trip to Antarctica in February. Then Covid-19 happened. We had tickets to see the Paperboys at the Tractor Tavern on St Patrick’s Day – Canceled. We had a weekend in Vancouver planned around The Mavericks concert – Border Closed, Concert Canceled. We had tickets to The 2020 Skagit Farm to Pint Fest last April – Canceled. This last one was especially painful, as we LOVE local beer and food! We were thrilled to learn that Skagit Farm to Pint Fest had been re-engineered for 2021 – a Covid-compliant, self-guided “Road Show” to last the entire month of April! Woohoo!
Thirteen breweries. Three days. No problem!
Day 1: Farmstrong | North Sound | Cardinal Craft | Garden Path | Chuckanut | 192 | District
Farmstrong Brewing was the first official stop on the Skagit Farm to Pint Roadshow. Farmstrong featured a Strawberry and Honey Tulipfest Cider from their Ragged and Right Cider Project, paired with a lovely miniature strawberry parfait. The brewery is a comfortable rustic space, including a special photo ensemble of dogs of the month! Of course, we had to check the doggie board out to answer the trivia question on the Roadshow Scavenger Hunt. We were determined to fill out all the questions and win prizes! While at Farmstrong, we also had to try their award-winning Blackberry Tango cider. Delicious! We will definitely return here to try more cider and beer but didn’t want to have to take an uber!
From Farmstrong, we headed northwest to North Sound Brewing. The taproom has expanded its indoor and outdoor spaces since last we visited. In a cozy room with a fireplace and natural light, we enjoyed a dark cherry wheat ale, paired with a mixed berry tart from the nearby Schuh Farms.
The next three stops on Day 1 were in a nice tight cluster by the Skagit Regional Airport at the Port of Skagit. The Port of Skagit is the presenting sponsor of Skagit Farm to Pint FEST Roadshow. We swung by Cardinal Craft Brewing Academy to get the coveted stamp in our passport. They have limited open hours for folks to pick up growlers and no brewery access; we would taste their contribution the next day. Garden Path Fermentation was next, with a very interesting selection of beers, their own and from all over the world. Though we don’t typically drink this variety of brew, both of us truly enjoyed their Easygoing Drink “Skagitonian grisette” paired with a savory herbed cookie from Water Tank Bakery – a new bakery at the Port of Skagit featuring local flour grown and milled in Skagit Valley.
We have been to Chuckanut Brewery‘s primary location in Bellingham, but had not yet ventured to their Skagit Location, or the “South Nut.” We enjoyed their Fest offering, Skagit Tulip Golden Ale, and decided to try a flight to sample some other beers. All were delicious.
Taste buds tamed, we went back to Mount Vernon and checked into our lovely AirBNB, the Riverclay Apartment. It was super cozy with exposed brick, full kitchen, queen bed, and a smart TV. We didn’t spend a lot of time there, but it was the perfect base of operations for our weekend. It was an easy walk to 3 breweries, downtown restaurants, and the Historic Lincoln Theater.
After getting settled, we walked over to 192 Brewing Company, where we were treated to very friendly service, delicious from-scratch pretzel bites, and a sneaky good Rexville Double IPA. The taproom isn’t very big, but they have a large outdoor area that will be perfect for summer sipping. The sun was setting as we headed back to town for our last tasting of the first day.
We were excited about visiting District Brewing’s space – they are in the former Lyric Theater space and have done a spectacular job in repurposing the building, reusing original materials. In homage to the theater, District’s beers are named for movies. We tasted their Northwest IPA alongside beautifully presented Caprese skewers. Needing a bit of “real food” to cap off the day of tastings, we ordered some Jamaican jerk chicken wings to share and a couple of full pints – Juice Almighty Hazy IPA and Jurassic Amber.
With full bellies and the beer-sleepies, we made the short walk back to our apartment, where we took advantage of the Smart TV to knock out a couple of episodes of Ozark before retiring for the evening. Seven stamps on our Fest Guide, six to go. A successful first day!
Day 2: La Conner | Bastion | Anacortes | Terramar |Temperate Habits
A trip to Skagit County is not complete without breakfast at the Train Wreck in Burlington! We split the pulled pork hash, which was amazing! Next, we headed over to Roozengaard to walk among the daffodils and early tulips in their fields and display gardens. Advance timed tickets helped keep the crowds manageable, so there was no issue of social distancing. And we completely agree with the slogan: Come for the Tulips – Stay for the Beer! Our AirBNB host suggested we swing by Snow Goose Produce for some Lopez Island Ice Cream. Even after a big breakfast, there’s always room for ice cream! Snow Goose has quite the array of produce and local goods, but we were laser-focused on the ice cream. Breakfast – check! Tulips – check! Ice cream – check! Time for more beer!!
We headed to La Conner Brewing where we could choose from any of their beers to pair with our chocolate. I chose the Blood Orange Pale Ale, and Doug had the Raspberry Misfit CDA. We didn’t linger long there, as it was lunchtime, and there were people waiting for tables. We did, however, take the opportunity for a photo opp at Nasty Jack’s – what a great antique emporium! From La Conner, we crossed the river and took the scenic route to Bastion Brewing. A recent change in chefs meant a change in the food pairing for our fest beer tasting. We were delighted to receive pulled pork sliders with our Belgian Saison, and then shared a pint of the Life Giver Black IPA, which was excellent.
Feeling the need to walk off a few calories, we drove up to Cap Sante Park, overlooking Anacortes and Padilla Bay. The walk turned into a short nap, stretched out on a big, warm rock.
With renewed energy, we popped over to Anacortes Brewery & The Rockfish Grill for some amazing vegetarian chili and a trifecta of Fest beers – Sunrise IPA from Anacortes Brewing, Kardinal Kolsch from Cardinal Craft Brewing Academy, and Prize Bird Pale from Tony Engel, the winner of the 2020 Homebrew Competition. We also tasted a few other offerings from Anacortes Brewing, our favorite being the Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Ale.
Next on our route was Terramar Brewstillery in Bow. It was our first time here, and the space is very interesting. We started in the brewery space, where we tried their “A Lager of their Own” alongside garlic-parmesan polenta fries. After the nosh, we wandered over to check out their Speakeasy, noticing a large outdoor space which will be perfect in the coming warm weather.
Having lingered a bit too long in Edison, we had to hustle back to Mount Vernon. We slid into Temperate Habits just in time for a taster of Honey Lavender Blond and some of the best clam chowder I have EVER had! They have a wonderful space; we will definitely return to work our way through their menu. With that, Day 2 was in the books, leaving only one brewery stamp to go. Thankfully, it was a short walk back to our AirBNB and a good night’s sleep.
Day 3: Birdsview and Concert at the Lincoln Theatre
We headed east on Highway 20 to Concrete after a breakfast of cinnamon roll French toast at Billy’s in Burlington. It was a perfect day for a walk along the beautiful Skagit River at Rasar State Park, just a quick 3-miler to justify the big breakfast…and all the beer!
Birdsview Brewing was the last brewery on our list. The taproom is small, but they have a large outdoor space with plenty of tables. Here we enjoyed their Pandemic Haze IPA alongside fresh sliced Granny Smith apples and squeaky cheese curds from Golden Glen Creamery.
Having never heard of Viva Farms, we were excited to learn about their mission to grow farmers, community, and food! We decided to subscribe to their CSA and look forward to receiving our first box in June! Worn out from our busy day, we walked back to our Airbnb and turned in for the night. We slept great, with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude.
I want to shout out to the sponsors and organizers for putting together an excellent event under difficult circumstances. I must admit that I actually prefer the Road Show to a single-day, single-venue festival! We got to experience the beers in the brewery spaces. We learned more about Skagit County by exploring restaurants, lodging, and recreational opportunities during our multi-day visit. The concert at the Lincoln Theater was a wonderful addition. And thanks so much for introducing us to Viva Farms; we can’t wait to taste the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. Now… what beer pairs best with organic rutabaga?
Already looking forward to next year! Cheers!