Beer lovers and community members around Joint Base Lewis-McChord flocked to the 7th annual Brewfest at the Club at McChord Field Feb. 10 to unwind after a long week.
The Ole’ Mountain Boys, a local bluegrass band, provided upbeat music for the event. People mingled in the large room, trying small samples of different beers and talking to the brewers about the craft of brewing. The festival drew hundreds of people from JBLM and all around the state.
“We wanted to have a relaxed atmosphere and allow people to come together and have a good time — get that laid back feeling and come to enjoy the craft beer and relax,” said Colin Brooks, special events coordinator for JBLM’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “The breweries love to come out here and do something for the military community. It’s a demographic they normally don’t get to see. This event is something that people around our community have really been looking forward to.”
For guests, one of the big advantages of the event was the diverse array of beer. There were more than 30 established breweries present, such as Red Hook and Postdoc Brewing. The event also featured more than 100 homebrewers offering samples of their craft.
“It’s a great chance to serve our beer that all the homebrewers have worked really hard on,” said Matt Burns, a homebrewer at the event. “Obviously, homebrewers share their beers with family and loved ones, but it’s still really nice to get out and give your beer to new people and hear what they think of it.”
Regardless of each brewer’s prestige, those providing the beer seemed excited to get a chance to interact with other beer aficionados.
“We get a chance to talk a little more in-depth with our beer with people (who) enjoy beer,” said Derrick Monroi, co-founder of Odd Otter Brewery. “Having a chance to come out to a military base lets you meet a lot of people from outside of the Northwest. You get a diverse crowd at events like this and chat about different regional styles of beers.”
The event also provided a chance to celebrate the winners of the homebrewers’ competition. Names of the winners were displayed on a large screen at the event. There was a broad range of categories: best in show, types of beers and a commander’s cup award for the best homebrew made by a service member, which was Lt. Andrew Czarniak, with the Coast Guard.
“The homebrewers are a great community, and it’s pretty cool to be recognized for something that I love to do,” said Col. John Kent, deputy commander at Madigan Army Medical Center, who placed second in the commander’s cup. “The Northwest is a pretty big beer scene, so having something like this is an awesome chance to show people how great beer can be.”
Military retirees and veterans were also present in the crowd that attended the Brewfest.
“You get local breweries and homebrewers coming together and you can’t really beat that,” said Dedrick McFadden, a retired service member at the event. “I’m a homebrewer and a big beer drinker. I’ve been to bases all around the country, but I’ve never had a base that tries to tap into my own hobbies as much as JBLM.”