A taste of Northwest Brewing Company's beers is akin to a trip around the world. The brewery, formerly Trade Route Brewing Company, finds inspiration in the trade routes of old, which is why its brewmasters incorporate exotic ingredients such as ginger and palm sugar when crafting each batch with time-honored brewing methods. These eclectic flavors beget distinctive beers, such as the Mango Weizen, which stirs taste buds with Saaz hops and mango puree, and the Midnight ale, which splashes chocolate, crystal, and pale malts with two types of hops to create a dark brew that pairs well with spicy food and glow-in-the-dark steaks. Not content to keep their flavors in liquid form, Northwest Brewing Company also slings a menu of gastropub cuisine—including gourmet pizzas and cheese-slathered pasta dishes— backed by live music every Saturday night.
Emerald Downs possesses all the beauty, glory, and betting that occurs at America's classic horse tracks. Jockeys ride thundering horses toward victory as families picnic on the manicured grounds or view the action from grandstand seats or tables at The Rainier Restaurant. Yet there's more to do than watch and wager. Every Saturday, facility managers conduct free tours of the stables during the races. They can also point visitors toward The Gift Horse, a shop in which to pick up equestrian related souvenirs.
A gypsy rides through the crowd while standing upon two horses. Behind him follow more members of his troupe, who do back flips off their steeds and then regale spectators with fire breathing and juggling. Performed by the seventh-generation acrobats of Cavallo Equestrian Arts, this spectacle—called Ma'Ceo—often draws standing-room-only crowds every day during the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire. It's these kinds of glimpses into the Elizabethan era that fulfill the mission of bringing renaissance Europe to life. Turning the Kelley Farm into the Village of Merriwick, entertainers of all types, from courtiers to peasants, engage fairgoers with a range of acts. Flanked by her entourage, Queen Elizabeth travels through the streets, perhaps on her way to watch the jousters compete for her phone number, or perhaps to watch sprightly performers such as the Celtic fiddlers or the commedia troupe. Merchants peddle wares to passersby, talking up goods such as hand-forged weapons and armor, hand-tooled leather goods, and roasted turkey legs. Camel rides and bubble-filled buckets cater to kids, and adults can duck into two alehouses where quick-witted wenches pour draft microbrews and ciders. For guests who want to spend the whole weekend immersed in the renaissance festivities, organizers reserve a section of the grounds for tent and RV camping.
At The Grape Adventure, a wine bar and restaurant that was recognized by the Washington State Wine Commission as a Grand Award winner in 2010, the menu of inventive tapas and upscale American cuisine teams up with a sprawling list of imported and domestic wines to sate hunger and thirst. The tapas-style avocado-hummus plate serves as a pool in which pita chips and tomatoes play ($8.95) and the steak bruschetta drapes seasoned steak and tomato salad over a warmly toasted baguette augmented by a gorgonzola spread ($9.95).
For the past eight years, the annual Oktoberfest Northwest has celebrated German culture and the arrival of autumn with a weekend of German-themed festivities. As revelers sip frosty brews from steins and snack on juicy bratwursts, they watch performers play live German music, a far more enjoyable listening experience than Franz Kafka’s notoriously undanceable audiobooks. A host of hands-on activities complements the food and music, ranging from family-friendly crafts to Hammerschlagen, a drinking game wherein participants compete to drive their nails into a stump of wood the fastest.
Those who find themselves near the Washington State Fair Events Center in early December may feel as though they've been transported straight into a Dickens novel. For five days, the events center transforms into a Victorian village that celebrates the sights, sounds, and spirit of an old-fashioned Christmas. Guests can ride a horse-drawn carriage past twinkling lights and old-timey storefronts, peering into the windows of more than 500 shops selling goods such as ornaments, handmade sweaters, and fudge. Kids can ride on the Christmas carousel or head to the North Pole, where they can take a tour of Santa's house, write a letter in Santa's post office, make toys in Santa's workshop, and do yoga in Santa's barely-used home gym, before posing for a photo with the big guy himself. Of course, one of the most important aspects of A Victorian Country Christmas is music: the festival welcomes more than 100 singers and dancers at its annual singing nativity program, and features many live musicians and singers who perform carols and holiday tunes throughout the event.