Monday, April 15th, 2024

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 15

Peaks & Pints barkeep Lovettorenan and Monicadriel call Day 7 of the Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers.

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 15

MONICADRIEL: More than a week ago we pitted 64 of the Northwest’s best — voted in by the public — in a head-to-head battle of amber and red ales. Today marks the second to last day of First Round action. Tuesday, the last eight Washington and Oregon brewed ambers and red ales will enter the arena bright eyed and fresh. At the end of that day, four ambers and reds will join the other 28 ambers and reds in the Second Round, four will pick up the spent grains and go home. Hello, I’m Peaks & Pints bartender Monicadriel, and welcome to another eight Northwest amber and red ales doing battle in the Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers First Round. With me this time is Peaks bartender, Lovettorenan.

LOVETTORENAN: Thanks, Monicadriel. That’s right, folks. We’re back from a weekend of rest and ready for more sweet, sweet First Round Action — four ambers and reds from the Southern Washington region and four more battling in the Northern Oregon region.

MONICADRIEL: Let’s do this thing! Please vote for one beer per game on Peaks & Pints’ Instagram Stories. Voting for today’s battles ends at midnight. We’ll announce the winners tomorrow morning around 10 a.m., but today’s games are live on Peaks & Pints’ Instagram Stories.

Monday, April 15, First Round Northwest Ambers Games

Backwoods Brewing barkeep Crystal has a line on their Copperline Amber.


Character: Copperline (#5 seed)

House: Backwoods Brewing, Carson

Stats: 5.5%, 20 IBU

LOVETTORENAN: During the First Age, A. S. Estabrook built the first sawmill in Wind River Valley, a waterpower concern on Carson Creek in Skamania County, Washington. The following year, a company built a good-sized steam sawmill where the town of Carson now stands. The lumber industry has since left Carson, but Backwoods Brewing Co. pours craft beers and serves delicious pizza for flannel-wearing folk in the town. Backwoods’ taproom sits at the gateway to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Old Man’s Pass and Mt. St. Helens. Wind River Highway runs directly through Carson leading to world class fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking, berry and mushroom picking, sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and beautiful scenery. While only at 469 feet above sea level, Carson looks and feels like a mountain town.

MONICADRIEL: Backwoods pulls all its water used in the brewing process from Bear Creek, one of the freshest water sources the natural region offers. Their Copperline amber ale has a floral, sweet aroma like wild strawberries from the forest. Woodsy notes of honey and warm rain meet and greet in the glass and move into the mouthfeel with soft flavors of malt and caramel.

Grains of Wrath barkeep Tommy brings the Doom!

Character: Old Man Doom (#12 seed)

House: Grains of Wrath, Camas

Stats: 6.2%

MONICADRIEL: Brewmaster Mike Hunsaker cut his teeth as a homebrewer and by working for breweries in Chicago and Cleveland, before relocating to Portland to become the head brewer at Fat Head’s Brewery, where he became known for original West Coast IPA recipes. Fat Head’s closed, which lead to Hunsaker opening his new punk and metal inspired 10-barrel brewery Grains of Wrath in Camas, Washington, with backers Brendan Greenen, Shawn Parker, and Brendan Ford. The former paper-mill in a gutted auto parts store turned brewery is killing it with a wall of medals.

LOVETTORENAN: My guess is Old Man Doom is a hardcore song reference rather than a nod to the Dark Lord of Mordor, Sauron of Mount Doom. Whatever the reference, it’s a delicious Middle-Northwest red ale with flavors and aromatics of pine, orange zest, red candy, and grapefruit.


7 Seas Brewing barkeep Jake Cutt’s it up.

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Character: Cutt’s NW Amber Ale (#4 seed)

House: 7 Seas Brewing, Tacoma

Stats: 6.2%, 44 IBU

LOVETTORENAN: You can’t talk Southern Washington beer without mentioning 7 Seas Brewing. Founders Mike Runion and Travis Guterson opened 7 Seas Brewing 16 years ago and through six moves have two impressive locations with a production brewery and taproom in Tacoma’s Historic Brewing District and a beautiful taproom along Gig Harbor’s waterfront.

MONICADRIEL: Their Middle-Northwest style amber ale — named in honor of our local Cutt’s Island aka “Dead Man’s Island” — displays a brilliantly clear burgundy hue, a pleasantly floral/fruity aroma, a medium body, caramel-like malt flavors, and a pleasant lingering hop bitterness. Assertive for an amber ale, Cutt’s remains well balanced yet truly Middle-Northwest in its audacity.

Loowit co-owner and head brewer Landon Smith is proud of his multiple medal-winning Irish-style red ale.

Character: Two-Sixteen (#13 seed)

House: Loowit Brewing, Vancouver

Stats: 5.1%, 23 IBU

MONICADRIEL: Twelve years ago, longtime friends Devon Bray and Thomas Poffenroth opened Loowit Brewing in downtown Vancouver, Washington, helping revive the city and quickly became a force in the Southwest Washington beer scene. Loowit Head Brewer Landon Smith joined the ownership team during the pandemic and continues his tradition of brewing excellence. It should be noted that Loowit loves the role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons, and has an experimental Player’s Handbook IPA series inspired by D&D.

LOVETTORENAN: Their beautifully balanced, easy drinking Two-Sixteen Irish-style Red Ale is named for the Forest Service’s trail designation for the Loowit Trail that circles the base of Loowit, known to many as Mount St. Helens. Two-Sixteen won a gold medal in the Irish Red Ale category at the 2014 and 2016 Washington Beer Awards and won a silver medal at the 2016 and 2019 Best of Craft Beer Awards.


If StormBreaker barkeep Nick asks you how to spell Mississippi, just say, “You don’t spell it, you drink it.”


Character: Mississippi Red (#7 seed)

House: StormBreaker Brewing, Portland

Stats: 5.8%, 29 IBU

LOVETTORENAN: Rob Lutz’ beer career began as a keg washer at Amnesia Brewing, the North Portland brewery that opened 21 years ago on Mississippi Avenue in Portland. Amnesia moved to Washougal, Washington, then folded. Lutz went in the opposite direction. Ten years ago, he and Dan Malech opened StormBreaker Brewing StormBreaker Brewing in Amnesia’s former spot in Portland. Their creative beer lineup earned awards. The duo opened a second spot in Portland’s St. John neighborhood, as well as expanded their Mississippi location, adding an axe-throwing platform.

Ruse Brewing barkeep Andy has a Dad Moon Rising with your Mom’s name on it.

MONICADRIEL: An homage to their street where they brew, this Citra dry hopped red ale gives the appearance of an IPA on the nose, with hops apparent on the palate, but balanced with caramel flavors for a smooth finish.

Character: Dad Moon Rising (#10 seed)

House: Ruse Brewing, Portland

Stats: 5.6%

MONICADRIEL: Shaun Kalis and Devin Benware began brewing their Ruse Brewing beers on a big system before Ruse was a thing. When not brewing for Tomas Sluiter at the Culmination Brewing, whom they originally worked under at the Old Market Pub & Brewery in Multnomah Village, they used Tom’s tanks to make their Ruse beer. Kalis and Benware moved into their big southeast Portland facility six years ago. These guys are experts of adjunct ingredients and yeasty expressionism, and Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers nominators recognized it with a 10th seed. Ruse grabbed a bunch of medals at last week’s Oregon Beer Awards, including bronze for their fresh Centennial hop version of Dad Moon Rising.

LOVETTORENAN: As you mentioned Monicadriel, Dad Moon Rising is brewed with Centennial hops, which balance the malt blend created by Kalis and Benware. On the nose, expect sweet rose flowers, caramel, red apple skins, and freshly baked bread, followed by lychee fruit, and sweet rose that leads to other floral notes trickle in behind, including honeysuckle. Warm bread, caramel, and some apple-led fruity esters rise-up, too.

Buoy Beer barkeep Erica has 19.2 ounce NW Reds when it’s not on draft.



Character: NW Red Ale (#2 seed)

House: Buoy Beer, Astoria

Stats: 6.7%, 65 IBU

LOVETTORENAN: Astoria arborist Luke Colvin coaxed client, longtime homebrewer, and lager specialist Dan Hamilton to open Buoy Beer with his brother-in-law David Kroening, business advisor Jerry Kasinger, and businessman Andrew Bornstein, who had a 90-year-old cannery building in Astoria. The rest, as they say, is history. Oh, speaking of history, two years, Buoy’s roof collapsed damaging a large portion of their brewery along the Columbia River. They opened a pop-up pub at the Astoria Food Hub in downtown Astoria.

MONICADRIEL: Their NW Red Ale is brewed with five malt varieties commingle to create a dark red color and a malty and toffee nose, followed by pine, earthiness, and grassy notes cut quickly by toasty caramel malt and a grapefruit like zip of citrus.

Character: Blue Dog Amber (#15 seed)

House: Lucky Labrador Brewing, Portland

Stats: 5.6%

MONICADRIEL: Growing up less than a quarter mile away from each other in Portland, buddies Alex Stiles and Gary Geist went to the same schools and were always side-by-side. Missing each other during the 9-to-5 grind, they would flirt with the idea of opening their own brewpub. Having worked in finance, and even balanced a brewery’s books, Geist had a leg up on the business end, while Stiles’ two years at Bridgeport Brewing Company meant he was no stranger to mash tuns and brew kettles. After months of door slams, they stumbled upon a former roofing company on lower Hawthorne. With the plumbers, electricians, and framers forming Hawthorne space, they worked like dogs for five straight months building their dream. Thirty years ago, they opened Lucky Labrador Brewing. Today, they own four pubs where we serve hand-crafted, fresh beer, including Blue Dog Amber.

LOVETTORENAN: Often on cask, Blue Dog Amber leans on the smooth and sweet malty side with a bit of spice and a bitter finish.


Tuesday April 16 Tournament of Northwest Ambers First Round action …

Game 1: Maritime Pacific Brewing Flagship Red (#6 seed) vs Old Stove Brewing Amber Waves (#11 seed)

Game 2: Stoup Brewing NW Red (#3 seed) vs Boundary Bay Brewing Amber Ale (#14 seed)

Game 3: Boneyard Beer Diablo Rojo (#1 seed) vs Oregon Trail Mosaic Red (#16 seed)

Game 4: Wild Ride Brewing 3 Sisters American Red (#8 seed) vs Bend Brewing Outback Amber (#9 seed)

LINK: Tournament of Beers: Northwest Ambers explained

LINK: Tournament of Beer Headquarters

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