Isn’t it great when the reality of something matches or exceeds the hype that precedes it?

That’s always been true for the Festival of Dark Arts, hosted by Astoria’s Fort George Brewery

The annual celebration of all things stout, Dark Arts is far more than a winter beer festival. It’s like Mardi Gras and Halloween came together and had a party that really rocked, with costumes, ice sculptures, spooky décor, zany performance art and, of course, lots of live music in multiple venues.

Plus … more than 70 special stouts, many of which are being created exclusively for the occasion – some aged in barrels for a ridiculous length of time.

The sheer number of dark, warming beers has driven some repeat festival-goers to create maps and spreadsheets in order to fan out and taste them all. (Talking to you, strategic foursome from Moses Lake, Wash.).

The stouts on tap are amazingly diverse. Here’s a partial list of some of the special ingredients from last year’s lineup: pineapple; candy cap mushrooms; caramel; pistachios; semi-sweet chocolate; molasses; raspberries; graham crackers; malted milk balls; hazelnuts; cinnamon; maple syrup; licorice; Oreos; almonds; marshmallows; and coffee.

Oops! Got a little carried away there. The whole point of this post is to tell you when the party will be.

Fort George just announced the date: Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024.

Tickets go on sale Nov. 24 at 7:29 a.m. (also known as dawn). That’s Black Friday (aka the day after Thanksgiving).

Don’t be late. Tickets to the so-called “carnival of stout” are known to sell out fast. 

Festival-goers rock out inside The Ruins at last year’s Dark Arts.

More details on ticket prices, food options and bands are coming. In the meantime, here’s a bit of what Fort George says on its website:

“Ticket bearers will be granted entrance into a magical menagerie of dark art and macabre entertainment, all the while surrounded by the boldest collection of stouts ever assembled in one place.”

Hype? You bet. 

Also reality? You be the judge.



Reach Break Brewing is closing its downtown Astoria brewery and taproom, citing rising costs and increasingly stringent regulations that continue to chip away at already narrow profit margins.

“We gave it a good run,” said Josh Allison, Reach Break’s founder and head brewer. “I’m proud of what we did, for sure.”

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A cold and dreary winter is still upon us, but take heart – fun beer-related events are on tap! 

We’re talking festivals, people. Right here in Astoria.

Buoy Beer Co.’s Lager Fest and Fort George Brewery’s Lupulin Ecstasy are scheduled for weekends in May, and that’s a wonderful thing to look forward to.

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