Friday, April 12th, 2024

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 12

Peaks & Pints barkeeps Phaedra of Rohan and Bilbo Brandon run down today’s amber and red ales match-ups.

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 12

BILBO BRANDON: The subject of malty ambers and red ales is, like the subject of barbecue, vexed and fraught with controversy. What constitutes a great amber or red? Who makes the best in the Middle-Northwest? Everyone seems to have his or her own favorite, and everyone’s an expert. Hello, folks, I’m Peaks & Pints barkeep Bilbo Brandon, and in late February and early March we polled the public asking what are the top 64 ambers and reds brewed in Oregon and Washington? You chimed in. Friday, April 5, we launched the Tournament of Beers: Northwest Ambers, pitting 64 ambers and reds against each other Monday-Friday, with historical references to the Hobbits, Elves, Dwarfs, and Wizards who regularly drank them. With me, as always, is my fellow Peaks barkeep, Phaedra of Rohan.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Thanks, Bilbo! It’s the sixth day of action, and we’re deep into the First Round. Let’s look at yesterday’s results and today’s four games.

THURSDAY, April 11, First Round Northwest Ambers games results

Phaedra of Rohan and Bilbo Brandon discuss Gigantic’s Mecha Red attack.


1. E9 Brewing Rowdy & Dick Amber vs. 16. Black Fleet Fire Ship Smoked Red

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: In a battle of Fawcett Avenue, not surprisingly the institution that was the first modern day brewery in Tacoma emerged decisively victorious — with Rowdy & Dick cruising to victory and securing roughly 82 percent of the vote by the time things were said and done. The Tournament of Beer Fellowship are scratching their wizard hats over the fact that Black Fleet didn’t summon the Corsairs of Umbar pirates to show Dick how rowdy they could be. Probably a moot point since E9 head bartender Sean Jackson could summon the Dead Men of Dunharrow with his Dead Guy hat. The high-powered, two-time Tournament of Beer Champion E9 Brewing and its amber with two first names moves on to the Second Round.


8. Top Rung Box Alarm Amber vs 9. Gig Harbor Racing Rooster Red

BILBO BRANDON: In a back-and-forth match-up pitting two fairly-even matched competitors (at least in the eyes of voters, it seems), Top Rung Brewing eked out a win beating Gig Harbor Brewing’s Racing Rooster Red by grabbing 53 percent of the vote. Did Top Rung owner Casey Sobol’s illustrious firefighting career help with the win? Can’t say for certain. What we do know is the Box Alarm Amber moves into the Second Round.

Phaedra of Rohan and Bilbo Brandon argue over who’s going to put up today’s winners on the Big Board.


6. Laurelwood Free Range Red vs 16. 11. Gigantic Brewing Mecha Red

BILBO BRANDON: Knock knock.


BILBO BRANDON: A robot beer brewed by Gigantic Brewing.


BILBO BRANDON: Exactly. Gigantic’s Mecha Red blended in with the general human and Hobbit population, making it easier to infiltrate society’s drinking habits and — in time — conquer it, like it did to Laurelwood’s Free Range Red with 57 percent of the vote.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Why was six afraid of seven?

LAURELWOOD BREWING: Because seven was a robot beer.


3. Double Mountain IRA vs 14. Old Town Brewing Paulie’s Not Irish Red

BILBO BRANDON: That one windsurfer dude from Wichita who had the entire Columbia River to himself yesterday probably was confused. The brochure pictured hundreds of badass windsurfers performing Lollipop Diablo 540s and the windsurfer was alone with his thoughts and lifejacket. He didn’t know the entire Hood River extreme sports community, aka 80 percent of the population, took the day off to vote for the beloved India Red Ale brewed by Double Mountain Brewery. Yo, dude, it will be vastly different today — unless everyone is in the Double Mountain taproom drinking celebratory IRAs. Double Mountain IRA grabbed 72 percent of the vote and a spot in the Second Round.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Let’s weed through the malts. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

E9 Brewing Rowdy & Dick Amber

Top Rung Brewing Box Amber Ale

Gigantic Brewing Mecha Red

Double Mountain Brewery IRA

BILBO BRANDON: OK, Let’s dive into today’s First Round action featuring four new amber and red ale battles. Please read all these words then go vote on Peaks’ Instagram Stories. Voting opens at 12:01 a.m. and ends at midnight. Peaks bartender Mathrandir will announce today’s winners tomorrow.

Friday, April 12, First Round Northwest Ambers & Reds Games


Character: Amber (#7 seed)

House: Lazy Boy Brewing, Everett

Stats: 5.2%

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Lazy Boy Brewing owner and head brewer Shawn Loring homebrewed with a group of guys in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They called themselves “The Lazy Boys.” The Lazy Boy Bitter became their flagship beer. When Loring moved to Everett, Washington, the name for his brewery was a no-brainer. The 15-barrel Lazy Boy Brewing was born 18 years ago. Last month, Loring closed his taproom for its big move seven miles north to a new development on the Everett waterfront. The new Lazy Boy location, a brewery with a taproom, will sprawl across 3,500 square feet of a newly constructed building at the corner of Seiner Drive and West Marine View Drive.

BILBO BRANDON: Lazy Boy’s longtime Amber offers subtle sweetness from a variety of crystal malts combined with English hops.

Rainy Daze barkeep Annie would like you to test drive her Test Drive.

Character: Test Drive Amber (#10 seed)

House: Rainy Daze Brewing, Poulsbo

Stats: 5.2%

BILBO BRANDON: You know the story. Longtime homebrewer Mike Montoney scores a brew system from closed Battenkill Brewing of Poulsbo, apprentices on a professional system with Brad Ginn and Mark Hood of Sound Brewery, goes on to brew awarding-winning craft beers under the Rainy Daze Brewing brand. The story received another hit of joy when Rainy Daze’s Goat Boater IPA won Peaks and Pints’ Tournament of Beer: Washington State IPAs seven years ago — our first Tournament of Beer.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: This award-winning, Middle-Northwest style amber ale displays a brilliantly clear light amber hue, a pleasantly floral/fruity aroma, a medium body, caramel-like malt flavors, and a pleasant lingering earthy hop bitterness.


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Skookum Manager Angel goes Up River and runs into some rapids.


Character: Up River (#2 seed)

House: Skookum Brewery, Arlington

Stats: 5.1%, 28 IBU

BILBO BRANDON: Change, although often uncomfortable, is inevitable but this change is cause for celebration. It’s no secret that the past few years have been extremely challenging for Skookum Brewery, but with the support of their community, they continue to do what they love — brew beer. The change I speak of is renaming Amber’s Hot Friend Amber Ale — one of Skookum Brewery first beers for the Arlington community. It’s now called Up River.

PHEADRA OF ROHAN: Their amber still has a full malt body, smells like a little chocolate, a little pine, brown sugar, and nuts followed by flavors of caramel and mild citrus plus enough hops to keep it in balance.

Triplehorn barkeep Eric is ready to Folkvang you!

Character: Folkvang Irish Red (#15 seed)

House: Triplehorn Brewing, Woodinville

Stats: 6%, 32 IBU

PHEADRA OF ROHAN: Two brothers and one vision propelled Nordic-themed Triplehorn Brewing toward its summer of 2012 opening in Woodinville’s “Warehouse District”. Rich and Ray Nesheim donned Viking helmets and made a pack to produce small batch specialty beers in a lively environment. The successful quest continues.

BILBO BRANDON: Triplehorn’s Folkvang Irish Red is brewed with rich dark malts and light United Kingdom hops, plus mild peat. It pours a cloudy copper red with all the malt aroma. Flavor is a dusty malt and light smoke, but smooths out nicely with a grainy, caramel finish.


Oakshire barkeep Jordan was the Oakshire rep in Washington state before COVID.


Character: Original Amber Ale (#5 seed)

House: Oakshire Brewing, Eugene

Stats: 5.4%, 22 IBU

BILBO BRANDON: Eighteen years ago, Jeff and Chris “Alty” Althouse were the only employees at their newly founded Willamette Brewery in Eugene, Oregon. The Althouses brewed 300 barrels that year, far short of what they’d eventually brew after two years later when they converted Willamette Brewery into Oakshire Brewing. Seven years after opening, Dan Russo became the taproom manager but soon after used his American Brewers Guild degree and became lead brewer. Russo remains Oakshire’s longest-tenured employee at the community-inspired, small-batch brewing company.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Oakshire’s first beer brewed, Original Amber Ale, combines five different specialty malts with a touch of hop bitterness for a well-balance beer.

Character: Firestorm Red (#12 seed)

House: Three Creeks Brewing, Sisters

Stats: 5.8%, 65 IBU

BILBO BRANDON: Sixteen years ago, Wade Underwood opened Three Creeks Brewing as a 10-barrel brewpub with a full restaurant in Sisters, Oregon. After seven years, Three Creeks opened an additional 30-bbl production facility a mile and a half up the road. In the brewhouse, you’ll find Pat “Patio” Shea, a longtime Central Oregon brewer who began his brewing career at Rock Bottom in Portland, then Anderson Valley Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, Crux Fermentation Project, 10 Barrel Brewing, GoodLife, and Three Creeks.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Theater Firestorm Red is a complex blend of Munich and Crystal malts along with Cluster, Amarillo, and Chinook hops for a ruby hued, well-balanced beer packed with Northwest hop flavor that honors Central Oregon’s “Soot Blackened Heroes”.



Character: American Amber Ale (#4 seed)

House: Rogue Ales, Newport

Stats: 5.3%, 53 IBU

BILBO BRANDON: In addition to Rogue Head Brewer Christina Canto and all the Rogue Ales past and present brewers who graduated from the Oregon State University Fermentation Science program, the brewery also awards scholarships to the program in the name of their founder Jack Joyce who passed in 10 years ago. The Jack Joyce Scholarship Award was created after his passing by Columbia Distributing and Rogue Ales in honor of visionary Jack Joyce for his legacy in the Oregon community and his founding of Rogue Brewery 36 years ago. Jack’s vision, creativity and innovation led Rogue to take daring risks that have created one of the most successful breweries and distillers in the nation. Each year students enrolled in Oregon State University’s Fermentation Science program can apply for scholarship funds.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: That’s so cool. Speaking of the brewery’s founding 36 years ago, that was the year Rogue brewed their amber ale featuring rich caramel malt notes balanced with a moderate hop bitterness.

Character: Brimstone Red (#13 seed)

House: Kobold Brewing, Redmond and Bend

Stats: 5.8%, 36 IBU

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Nine years ago, Steve Anderson put aside his role-playing games and launch a brewery in his basement, Kobold, named for a mythical Germanic creature — actually, a spirit — believed to help perform chores in a home or, more crucially, a brewery. Kobold brews on a 10-barrel system in Redmond, and delivers enough satisfy their customers at The Lair, Kobold’s taphouse in Bend. The walls of The Lair are adorned with plenty of found, magical artifacts from the world, the sea world, and potentially worlds beyond. Two years ago, Anderson sold Kobold to Hayden Reynolds and other partners. Reynolds, who had been brewing at Worthy Brewing in Bend, is huge into Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games and loves all mythical realms.

BILBO BRANDON: Well, Hayden probably has found comfort in this mystical tournament. His Brimstone Red, a flagship beer, begins with pine, floral and citrus aromas, thanks to a dry hopping of Simcoe, Cascade, and Centennial. The nose carries into the flavor with additional toffee, chocolate, caramel, and subtle hint of cherry.


Monday April 15 Tournament of Northwest Ambers First Round action …

Game 1: Backwoods Brewing Copperline Amber (#5 seed) vs Grains of Wrath Old Man Doom Amber (#12 seed)

Game 2: 7 Seas Cutt’s Amber (#4 seed) vs Loowit Brewing Two-Sixteen (#13 seed)

Game 3: StormBreaker Mississippi Red (#7 seed) vs Ruse Brewing Dad Moon Rising (#10 seed)

Game 4: Buoy Beer NW Red (#2 seed) vs Lucky Labrador Blue Dog Amber (#15 seed)

LINK: Tournament of Beers: Northwest Ambers explained

LINK: Tournament of Beer Headquarters

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