Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Olympia Brew Fest meets National IPA Day

Ron Swarner

Hop Valley, Top Rung and Diamond Knot in the house. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Thursday, Aug. 6 is a big holiday: National IPA Day (or ‪#‎IPADay‬, if you’re joining the cause on social media).

Founded by beer aficionados “The Beer Wench” Ashley Routson and “Certified Cicerone” Ryan Ross in 2011 as a way to link breweries, bloggers and beer drinkers, National IPA Day celebrates this particular style because the India Pale Ale is one of civilization’s saner inspirations for a holiday: it evolved from a means of preservation during beers’ arduous travels from England to India; nobody died or was tortured; nobody has to fast; nobody has to commune with the dead or celebrate war. All you have to do is be glad this good beer made it to America and enjoy the hell out of it — which I did at the 2015 Olympia Brew Fest Aug. 1 at Olympia’s Port Plaza.

More than half of the breweries at the fourth annual Olympia Brew Fest poured their India Pale Ales. In fact, it’s the most entered beer style in many other major craft beer competitions. American-style IPA has been the largest category judged at the Great American Beer Festival for six years running with the number of entrants growing from 108 in 2008 to 252 last year. American IPA was also the largest judged category in April’s World Beer Cup (223 entries). Every brewery worth its salt has an IPA in its arsenal.

The IPA is about hops. Expect assertive herbal, citrus and piney qualities in aroma and flavor. The variety of hop, and when it’s added to beer, will greatly influence flavor characteristics and the range of bitterness. IPAs are medium-bodied and often golden- to copper-colored. They range from 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent ABV.

If you need a couple recommendations, I’m more than happy to divulge some findings from the Olympia Brew Fest. Here’s a look at a few of the wonderful IPAs from yesterday’s Olympia beer festival for Thursday’s oh so hoppy day. It was too hot to sip all the IPAs. So grab your drinkin’ buddies, charge your phones and search out these IPAs to celebrate National IPA Day.

Backwoods Brewing Company
Log Yard IPA, 6.7 percent ABV, 78 IBU
The family-owned craft beer company from Carson, Wash., poured its Log Yard IPA. If you’re looking for an IPA with citrus flavor and aroma with mild caramel malt make your way through the woods for this one.

Big Al Brewing
Big Hoppa IPA, 7.3 percent ABV, 80 IBU
An easy-drinking big IPA with aromas of citrus and earthy hops, a solid backbone of malt and bold citrusy hop flavors. Finishes with moderately high hop bitterness.

Black Raven Brewery
Beaktweaker Citrus IPA, 6.5 percent ABV, 77 IBU
Bring this juicy, bitter, hoppy beer home to the nest. Waves of citrus and bitter hops dominate. There is enough of a rye balance in the malt profile to keep everything in check. Lots of bright fresh orange juice, lemon peel, little bit of a grapefruit hint as well.

Diamond Knot Craft Brewing
India Pale Ale, 6.2 percent ABV, 40 IBU
Dove into this hop forward treasure, via Galena and Columbus hops. It begins toasty sweet, finishing with a dry, pine-citrus flavor.

Dick’s Brewing Company
Buck Session IPA, 4 percent ABV, 60 IBU
This new session IPA is a summer sipper. Cascade, Columbus and Simcoe hops are blended throughout the boil, as well as the dry hopping process, for a hop-forward finish.

Everybody’s Brewing
Country Boy IPA, 6.2 percent ABV, 80 IBU
A light-bodied beer brewed at substantial strength and bitterness, Country Boy IPA has a stripped-down, pure-essence presentation leading with big pine notes followed by crisp, citrus flavors with light malt sweetness to balance it out.

Hop Valley Brewing Co.
Citrus Mistress IPA, 6.5 percent ABV, 80 IBU
West Coast IPA in the house, with grapefruit rind hopping out of the glass. It’s named for a reason: grapefruit, orange, pineapple with some pine-y dankness in the background.

Kulshan Brewing Company
Bastard Kat IPA, 6.66 percent ABV, 70 IBU
A bold and flavorful West Coast-style IPA with big notes of pine and grapefruit with a touch of biscuity malt hiding in the corner.

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co.
Prairie Line IPA, 6 percent ABV, 82 IBU
Up until 2003, trains pounded the historic Prairie Line rail corridor from the Thea Foss Waterway to Tacoma’s Brewery District, passing rickety warehouses and dens of iniquity — before UW-Tacoma rang its school bell for its first on-site freshman class, halting the trains. Pacific Brewing’s light-bodied Prairie Line IPA hauls Simcoe and Amarillo hops, a huge aroma of tropical and citrus fruits, delivering a dry and clean finish with a slight refreshing bitterness.

Paradise Creek Brewery
Over The Hop IPA, 7.5 percent ABV, 65 IBU
A crisp, herbal IPA packed with dark body, hoppy bitterness and then finished off with a solid dry hopping of three pounds of flowers during conditioning. Not a hop bomb, but still hop-forward.

Sumerian Brewing
Narcissism IPA, 6.8 percent ABV, 65 IBU
The new Woodinville brewery has created a delicious American style IPA brewed with Cascade, Centennial and Azacca hops, attacking the nose with piney and dank hops then the palate with hops. The clean back end sets it apart.

Three Magnets Brewing Co.
Little Juice IPA, 6.6 percent ABV, 60 IBU
Brewed with six pound of hops per barrel, this IPA goes big with tropical fruit and pine resonating. A solid malt foundation balances the high alpha acids of the hops.

Top Rung Brewing Company
Prying Irons IPA, 5.8 percent ABV, 34 IBU
It’s sweet-ish, citrus-y, lighter-bodied, low on bitterness IPA that’s frighteningly drinkable, for one of the best summer-drinking IPAs in the South Sound.

Twelve Bar Brews
Wicked Riff IPA, 6.9 percent ABV, 80 IBU
Hops takes a back row seat to let the malts hit the stage, followed by some citrus, then the hops rush the stage, ending with a bit of pine-like spices.

Wet Coast Brewing Company
Moving Day IPA, 6.2 percent ABV, 67 IBU
With Munich and Crystal malts marching forward, and a distinctly assertive hop profile, Moving Day IPA brings a resinous, tropical taste to Gig Harbor.