Pike Brewing, located in Seattle naturally not far away from Pike Place market, hosted their 5th annual Chocofest on Sunday Feb 10 from 5-8 pm. They closed down the brewery for the ticket holders (this year targeting 400 guests, and I believe they did sell out) and so that the 69 participating vendors could spread out to offer their samples ranging from wine, spirit, cider, mead, chocolate, baked goods, and food pairings that you can pair with chocolate and/or incorporated chocolate.
Pike Chocofest proceeds every year benefits a chairty, and for 2013 this was the Puget Sound Keepers Alliance, a grassroots citizens organization whose goal is to protect the waters of Puget Sound.
Very helpfully, the event included a map and booklet with a listing of the vendors, their locations, and a sampling of what they would be offering. How organized and thoughtful! On the Pike Brewing Facebook and also their Events page online, a QR code let us preview via PDF on our phones what we might choose to spend our 15 scrips (used for alcohol, and poured into our little snifters that we could take home) on. All the food samples were complimentary.
I know I and many other people, despite all the plentiful choices, had a hard time spending all our beverage scrips. Thankfully, everyone attending seemed focused on discovering new vendors and trying new things, not on maximizing food and drink intake. Still, it was an embarrassment of riches with the generosity of the vendors who participated. I warn you now that balancing my purse, drink, food, and camera along with the people was not an easy feat, and then I was also grabbing example menus an brochures and business cards too, though thankfully everyone is listed in the booklet- I only need the photos, even if a bit blurry, to jog my memory a little more.
Beverage-wise, on my list that F and I tried included
- Lazy Boy Brewing’s Belgian Nutella hazelnut oatmeal stout (better than liquid nutella in its sweet but not overly sweet nuttiness) and orange chocolate hefeweizen that had a strong orange nose but balanced its citrus tone with a bit of bitter orange peel zest. That nutella beer was the best beer in my opinion of the evening.
- Silver City Brewery’s Strange Love, a rye barrel aged Imperial Mocha Porter was F’s choice of best beer of Chocofest.
- Samuel Smiths Organic Chocolate Stout was rich and delicious and also got a second visit. They had both this chocolate stout and Lindemans Framboise and missed an opportunity to offer pourings that had both in it though for a chocolate strawberry delight!
- Triple Horn Brewing’s Oi-Du-Vin Saison is a beer that is blended with a late harvest Roussanne wine and aged with Hungarian oak
- Airway Brewing’s Airways Chocolate Stout was another chocolate stout that made me wish I had a scoop of vanilla ice cream
- Naked City’s Mint Chocolate Porter was the best chocolate mint beer of the night. Meanwhile their “Charlie’s Golden Ticket” chocolate golden ale was light tasting, offering a subtle addition of flavor that is barely perceptible
- American Brewing’s “Peppermint Paddy” Chocolate mint stout was the second best mint chocolate beer in my opinion
- Pike Brewing Company’s Pike Elixer of Love- Choco Cherry Stout and Pike Brewing Company’s Pike EmbarassMINT of Richness – Chocomint Porter were disappointments in terms of flavor for me because they weren’t as pronounced. However, we did like that they had a special Octopus Ink Black IPA in honor of Puget Sound
- FinnRiver Cidery’s Spirited Apple Wine was dangerous, tasting light with a bit of apple spice but kicking in at 18.5%
- Woodinville Whiskey’s Mash Bill No 9 and 100% Rye Whiskey were smooth, though F and I agreed we liked the Rye better
- Sky River Meadery’s Solas Wa Honeywine aged in Dry Fly distilling whiskey barrels, and a Blackberry Honeywine were sweet and of the two the tartness from the fruit of the blackberry edged it over the honeywine
- 5 o’clock Distillery’s Pear Brandy and Cherry Brandy (also they offered Rhubarb Liqueur, Moonshine Whiskey, and Northwest Dry Gin) were the last tastes we had before it was time to return to our hotel to rest and digest.
- Seastar’s Porcini mushroom soup with black truffle cream was delicious and you could imagine it was like in the cartoons, when an aroma has the shape of smoke with a hand and finger that beckoned to me as soon as I entered the Museum room
- Taylor Shellfish was shucking to a line of people until the end its Shigoku and Kumamoto oysters
- Honest Biscuit’s mini-cheese biscuit made with Beechers scheese was buttery flakey and still moist
- Trace (restaurant from the W hotel) tasting of duck confit with Kurtwood Farms camembert on semolina crackers
- Mt Townsend had a beautiful display with their Red Alder cheese dusted with chocolate, and they also had their Seastack on Raincoast Crisp crackers with Theo’s spicy chili chocolate
- Pike Kilt Lifter Baby Back ribs with Kilt Lifter BBQ sauce was messy but thankfully since the meat was falling off the bone, guests were saved from having to gnaw to get all that delicious sauce and tender meat
- RN74’s crunchy chocolate profiteroles with homemade rocky road ice cream was refreshing coolness as the people packed in close in the narrow aisles between the two sides of the Upper Museum
- Gelatiamo gave big two scoop cups of Pike/Gelatiamo beer gelato using 5x stout chocolate along with a tart Raspberry Nelly sorbetto, another great way to cleanse the palate after so much richness at many of the other tables
- Confectional’s Salted Caramel Uber Dips, a miniature salted caramel cheesecake dipped in deep chocolate on a salted crust
- I loved watching the Pane e Olio Focaccia booth as he made it rain cheese on his cut tasting portions of Focaccia Basilico and Focaccia Dolce
- Surprise Savory from Boka were gougeres in the flavors of blue cheese, cheddar, or gruyere- and you didn’t have to choose, you could collect them all! Maybe I even put a few in my purse and had them the next morning…
- Steelhead Diner’s seafood mole was messy but a burst of palate cleansing flavor when we finally arrived to the 1st floor, though I give points for them using egg cartons to help prop them up for service
- Macrina Bakery’s brioche cocoa puff with a ganache chocolate center within a sweet brioche was a generous portion size, and she had a lovely display set up as well
- Art (restaurant from the Four Seasons Seattle) offered northwest salmon profiterole, and made these strange little profiterole trees as part of their display…
- Similarly, I’m not sure why Beecher’s, who was offering their Flagship and Marco Polo Reserve, had a turtle of cheese, but it did look earnest
- I was sad that I was too full to have room for Lauren Kohn’s offerings- next time! Her table looked delectable.
There was more available than I listed, these were just my top memories of the evening. Even with the supposed huge crowd that was present, I never had more than a few people in front of me waiting for a taste (well, except for the oysters, but that was understandable) and only the Museum Room of all the spaces that were used got elbow to elbow crowded and a bit warm. It seemed very well organized, and the fact that the event was 3 hours at first seemed short given how many people were attending and the number of vendors, but actually turned out just right, again because you never really had to wait long. There were areas of water pitchers and cups to keep hydrated, and plenty of little buckets by every table to throw away toothpicks or sample plates or napkins as needed, again showing how organized and thoughtful this event was.
Thank you to everyone who participated, it was a worthwhile little getaway to Seattle for an evening to experience this, and I enjoyed becoming acquainted with more incredible producers of deliciousness just over the state border. It had it all- no discrimination in alcohol at all so you could love coffee, distilleries, breweries, wineries, you could love all sorts of sweets and savories. And, I am in love with my new little snifters!