Festival of Dark Arts 2018
Fort George Brewery’s Festival of Dark Arts took place on February 17th, 2018 from 12-10pm. Aimed at embracing Stout Month, the festival featured over 60 stout samples from Oregon breweries and beyond. Some beers are brewed specifically for the event, while others are yearly staples. Having them all in one place is a thing of beauty.
The entire town of Astoria, Oregon, gets taken over by beer lovers for the weekend of the festival. It was fun seeing brewers, beer reps, distributers, writers, and instagram friends throughout the day. Since the festival was at its highest capacity between noon and four, I took breaks to visit other local breweries and bars.
Festival of Dark Arts 2018 Best Beers
- 🍺 Tuckered Out Stout by Logsdon Farmhouse Ales 10% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5) Imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with late additions of organic Belgian cacao nibs.
- 🍺 Matryoshka Bourbon Barrel Aged w/Vanilla Bean & Marionberries by Fort George Brewery 12.75% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 (5) Russian Imperial stout aged with vanilla bean and marionberries
- 🍺 Thai Speedway Stout by Alesmith Brewing Company 12% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.75) Russian Imperial stout with coconut, lime, ginger, lemongrass, basil & coffee.
- 🍺 Sour Romance by Culmination Brewery 9.5% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.5) Bourbon barrel aged imperial stout blended with barrel aged kriek.
- 🍺 Super Session Bourbon Black by Allegory Brewing 3.4% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.5) Barrel-Aged Mini-Stout! Collaboration with Matchless Brewing for this year’s Festival of Dark Arts. Brewed with lactose and whole naked oats and aged in whiskey and bourbon barrels that give depth and body that bely the low-abv. A fun beer to make and drink!
Some general tips for staying afloat:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat enough food
- Take breaks with light beer
- Run with a posse to taste more beers
More advice, if you’re planning to attend… Tickets for the festival typically sell out and are available in a limited quantity sometime in late November. Places to stay in Astoria typically book up early as well, so make arrangements well ahead of time. There are plenty of Airbnb’s and motels within walking distance of Fort George, which I recommend trying to snag first. Being on foot for a day of drinking is much more safe than trying to drive at the end of the night.
Beyond the Festival
I really enjoyed exploring Astoria. As someone who’s lived in Oregon most of their life, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the city over the years and see it develop. I go at least twice a year, yet found places in town that I’d never ventured into before. Exploring with my beer friends made it that much better!
It was also a delight to see my friend Dwayne Smallwood realize a dream of his. He opened Bridge & Tunnel Bottleshop and Taproom on the opposite side of the street from Reach Break and Fort George. It has sixteen taps and a few coolers of bottles. His aim is to bring beer to Astoria that isn’t represented, and he’s done a great job.
Festival of Dark Arts Locations and Entertainment
The event takes place at Fort George every year, and this year included a few adjustments. 14th Street was closed down and most of the block incorporated into a tasting area with food. The upstairs patio opened recently and was used as a casual spot to take a break.
There were two stages of live music, one upstairs in the Pizza Joint and the other in the Showroom (or barrel room in the Lovell building). Three of the tasting stations utilized the existing pub taps, while the others were placed outside on the patio, in the showroom, outside on 14th street, and in the “garden” behind the brewery.
Music was scheduled about every hour on each stage, with other acts performing during takedown/setup. I enjoyed seeing an acrobat hang from the middle of the room for her performance. Beyond music, there was a slew of things to keep one entertained. Ice sculpting, glass blowing, painting, tattoos, fire dancing, and tarot card readings were among the sights to see.
Food options were available from Fort George (pizza), Porcus (bacon on a stick, hi), Duane St. Chippy, Nomadic Food Vendor (a resilient woman carrying around a box of snacks), Columbia River Coffee Roasters, and Street Tacos.
Look & Feel
Festival of Dark Arts uses a black raven drinking a beer for it’s logo, which is used mainly on tokens. The event is marketed as “A Carnival of Stout” and runs with that stylistically. Spiders and nicely styled type litter the “Event Grimoire”, or book of magic spells, that’s used as the program. Everything is black and white, or dark, very dark. It all ties together very nicely, and I appreciate the extra effort put into developing a custom map.
Since it was my first time attending the event, I wasn’t prepared to see people dress up in costumes. The Fort George staff got really into it, as well as some attendees. It was almost like Halloween, but without the cutesy outfits – only dark. Muahaha.
(Beer Descriptions in italics are provided from the event program.)