Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 16

Today’s Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers is being called by Peaks & Pints barkeeps Mathrandir and Phaedra of Rohan (she can’t watch the Backwoods versus Grains of Wrath game because it’s so close).

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 16

MATHRANDIR: Low and behold, today marks the closing of the Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers First Round. After today’s battles the bracket will officially be down to 32 Oregon and Washington brewed amber and red ales, and breweries start hiring cheerleaders. Honestly, if it gets any more exciting, we’ll start to understand why Dick Vitale use to say, “It’s ambers, baby!” Plus, our stomachs are seriously bloated.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Without wasting anyone’s time with Lord of the Rings related basketball innuendo, on to a recap of yesterday’s games and today’s Tournament of Beer action.

Monday, April 15, First Round Northwest Ambers games results

Peaks & Pints barkeeps Phaedra of Rohan and Mathrandir decide Grains of Wrath needs eight private cabins built for next year’s Tournament.


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

MATHRANDIR: Only one game yesterday was close, a back-and-forth battle from the opening buzzer to the final pint, changing leads several times. Separated by 35 miles along State Route 14, there was a steady stream of Uber rides between Backwoods Brewing and Grains of Wrath, which probably befuddled fancy Skamania Lodge located between the excitement. It’s our guess Backwoods eight private cabins might have come into play somehow. The cabins’ “intimate kitchenette” could have been the deciding factor, edging out Grains of Wrath and its Old Man Doom Amber with 52 percent of the vote.


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

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: When first discussing the Tournament of Beer in planning meetings that seem like they were many moons ago, 7 Seas Brewing was mentioned almost immediately. The Gig Harbor and Tacoma craft beer company has a following, and everyone knows it. Sure enough, their Cutt’s Amber Ale was nominated a fourth seed in the Southern Washington region. Named after Cutts Island, also known as Deadman’s Island, close to Kopachuck State Park, Cutt’s Amber had a strong lead over Loowit Brewing’s Two-Sixteen Red Ale all day — no doubt fueled by generations of Cutts Island partiers. Loowit’s red ale had their Tournament run cut short by Cutt’s 65 percent of the vote.


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

MATHRANDIR: Ruse Brewing isn’t messing around. The Southeast Portland brewery sent hordes of mooning dads into all the Portland neighborhoods to boost their red ale’s vote count. If that wasn’t enough, Ruse amped up the ruse-ing, phoning StormBreaker Brewing, telling Mississippi jokes, then hang up. We heard, “How do you know the toothbrush was invented in Mississippi? If it was invented anywhere else, it would have been called a teethbrush” just about broke StormBreaker barkeep Nick. That one-two punch behind their Dad Moon Rising with blended malts with Centennial hops allowed the red ale to maintain a lead over Mississippi Red all day, capturing 56 percent of the votes and a slot in the Second Round.


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

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Lucky Labrador wasn’t so lucky yesterday. Something tells us they’ll survive — they have for 30 years! — and they’ll do so holding a delicious Blue Dog Amber. Unfortunately for the Portland brewery the task of taking down Buoy Beer’s NW Red was simply too much — and the votes told the story. When all was said and done, Buoy moves on with 71 percent of the vote.

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

Backwoods Brewing Copperline Amber (#5 seed)

7 Seas Cutt’s Amber (#4 seed)

Ruse Brewing Dad Moon Rising (#10 seed)

Buoy Beer NW Red (#2 seed)

MATHRANDIR: All right! Let’s dive into the last four games of the First Round. 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.

Tuesday, April 16, First Round Northwest Ambers Games

Jules pours red ales at Maritime Pacific Brewing, one of the oldest breweries in Seattle.


Character: Flagship Red Alt Ale (#6 seed)

House: Maritime Pacific Brewing, Seattle

Stats: 5.2%, 28 IBU

MATHRANDIR: Thirty-four years ago, George and Jane Hancock opened Maritime Brewing Company in an old transmission shop in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. Ballard’s nutty Scandinavians couldn’t get enough of Maritime’s flagship, Red Alt Ale, which made their driving speeds even slower.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: The first beer brewed at Maritime Pacific, Flagship Red (as it’s now called) is a red alt ale, which means it’s conditioned at cooler temperatures for longer periods, in a way like how a lager is made. The technique creates a beer with a distinctive clean and smooth flavor, which describes Flagship Red, with a malty, nut-like flavor derived from a blend of malted barley, wheat, plus Yakima and European hops.

Old Stove Lead Brewer Brett brewed Amber Waves with grains.

Character: Amber Waves (#11 seed)

House: Old Stove Brewing, Seattle

Stats: 6.4%, 30 IBU

MATHRANDIR: What began as Chris Moore and Brian Stan having “what if” conversations and sketches on bar napkins became full-scale plans to present to both the Pike Place Market PDA and Market Historical Commission. After many conversations, Old Stove Brewing was granted approval to become the anchor tenant of the MarketFront seven years ago. In fact, Peaks & Pints’ Pappi The Grey appeared at their opening day celebration. Since then, Old Stove moved to a production brewery and expansive taproom with a view of Elliott Bay on the other side of the market, has opened in Queen Anne at 600 W. Nickerson St., and moved into the 16,500-square-foot former Lagunitas building in Ballard. Oh, and former Naked City founder Don Webb is heading up the brewery team at the Pike Place location

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Tori Amos appropriated the phrase “for amber waves of grain” to create a personification for her song, “Amber Waves”. Amos imagines Amber Waves as an exotic dancer, like the character of the same name portrayed by Julianne Moore in Boogie Nights. Old Stove’s version is a medium-bodied amber ale with hints of dark fruit raisin, currants, and ripe plum. It’s slightly sweet and nutty from a blend of toasted malts including a touch of Chocolate malt and flaked barley.


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Stoup barkeep Lars shows off his perfect pour of NW Red Ale.


Character: Northwest Red Ale (#3 seed)

House: Stoup Brewing, Seattle

Stats: 5.5%, 40 IBU

MATHRANDIR: We’ve said, “We’ve had told the Stoup Brewing story a thousand times,” a thousand times, but it always bears repeating. Scientist Brad Benson and foodie Lara Zahaba opened Stoup Brewing in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood eleven years ago. Washington state’s first female Cicerone, Robyn Schumacher, became Stoup’s third partner, assisting Benson in the brewing room. Benson graduated from Gonzaga University with a B.S. in Chemistry and has been crafting beer for more than 28 years.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Stoup’s NW Red Ale provides a distinctly Middle-Northwest hop

Boundary Bay Marketing Manager Shanna calls all Railroad Ave. Amber Ale supporters!

character balanced with a restrained malt sweetness. The brewery incorporates 2-Row along with Best Maltz Red X malts to create a rich, red color and a smooth, satisfying caramel, toffee, and earthy taste. Some pine hop backbone adds a solid bitterness. A hint of chocolate sales the deal.

Character: Railroad Ave. Amber Ale (#14 seed)

House: Boundary Bay Brewing, Bellingham

Stats: 5.6%, 28 IBU

MATHRANDIR: From an old warehouse with no deck, beer garden or brewery to the well-formed Boundary Bay Brewery where history adorns its walls, memories have been made and local ties strengthened. Beer poured and music shared. Wedding vows taken and first loves connected, all within the walls of 1107 Railroad Avenue. In Bellingham. Ed Bennett, a University of Washington alum, earned his master’s degree in winemaking from UC Davis before landing in another small college town, Bellingham, to begin exploring his new love — beer. Thirty years ago, he signed the lease for the Thomas Burns building to begin building Boundary Bay Brewery. Today, he has a wall of beer medals.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Their Railroad Ave. Amber Ale unites malty and caramel flavors with a low bitterness resulting in a well-balanced, refreshing ale.


Boneyard Beer bartender Devin summons Diable Rojo voters.


Character: Diablo Rojo (#1 seed)

House: Boneyard Beer, Bend

Stats: 5.5%, 30 IBU

MATHRANDIR: Fourteen years ago, Boneyard Beer was started in an old auto shop tucked away in the backstreets of Bend, Oregon’s historical district. Without any outside investors or major bank loans, Boneyard’s inception was unconventional to say the least. After decades in the brewing industry, owner Tony Lawrence built up a “boneyard” of old equipment he collected from 13 different breweries around the country. Alongside co-founders, Clay and Melodee Storey, this second-hand brewing equipment was pieced together to brew the first batch of Boneyard Beer. Eight years later, Boneyard opened a new taproom at 1955 NE Division Street in Bend; the location was formerly a Chinese restaurant as well as a Texas Hold’em poker room and a short-lived taqueria.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Boneyard’s Diablo Rojo is not a malt bomb. First, the Cascade hops in this red ale are Oregon-grown on Crosby Hop Farm, and have a lighter, more delicate flavor than their acidic cousins from the high desert of Yakima. Second, this deep amber ale is extremely well balanced and very drinkable. Yes, the taste is caramel malts, subtle grassy hops, and piney resin — but, again, all well balanced and easy drinking. It appeals both to the hop lover and non-hop lover.

Oregon Trail bartender Kyle can hear the Mosaic hops in his Mosaic Red.

Character: Mosaic Red (#1 seed)

House: Oregon Trail Brewery, Corvallis

Stats: 7.7%, 30 IBU

MATHRANDIR: Founded 37 years ago by Jerry and Nancy Shadomy, Oregon Trail Brewery was one of a small handful of pioneering craft breweries in Oregon that helped spark an American craft brewing renaissance. Six years later, Dave Wills stepped in to guide Oregon Trail Brewery through decades of craft brewing developments and provided breweries and homebrewers with Oregon grown hops through his organization “Freshops.” Three years ago, Wills passed the torch to brothers Waylon and Oregon Trail brewer.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: With a recently updated fermentation system, Oregon Trail beer is still made in one of the oldest brew kettles in use, which was purchased from Hart Brewing (which became Pyramid). OTB’s three story gravity fed brewery sits in the historic Old World Center sharing a space with the Old World Deli. Their Mosaic Red is unfiltered and hoppy thanks to loads of Mosaic hops.


Wild Ride bartender Michael sees 3 Sisters every time he works.


Character: 3 Sisters American Red (#8 seed)

House: Wild Ride Brew, Redmond

Stats: 6%, 45 IBU

MATHRANDIR: A group of lifelong friends, who grew up in Redmond, started plotting the course. Founded 10 years ago, Wild Ride Brewery is a production brewery and taproom located in an old lumber storage building in downtown Redmond.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: The backdrop of Central Oregon features lovely sisters Faith, Hope, and Charity, which are three of the highest peaks in Oregon. This beautiful 3 Sisters American red ale has a sunset red appearance to remind Central Oregon of their presence at the end of the day. Wild Ride uses three main types of malt and hops to represent these Central Oregon landmarks, which offers sweet and bitter notes.

Character: Outback Amber Ale (#9 seed)

Bend Brewing bartender Molly is very popular, which bodes well for their Outback Amber.

House: Bend Brewing, Bend

Stats: 6%, 45 IBU

MATHRANDIR: Established 29 years ago, Bend Brewing Co. is the second oldest brew pub in Bend. Located in historic downtown Bend, right on Mirror Pond, the ownership changed close to nine years ago when Packy and Leslie Deenihan purchased the beloved brewery from Wendy Day. Since its purchase the new owners have added a massive outdoor space, added a northeast Bend production facility, and hired former Three Creeks Brewing head brewer, Zach Beckwith, although he moved on to manage Deschutes Brewery’s raw materials. Sean Albrecht of Green Flash and Karl Strauss has run the brewery for the last two years.

PHAEDRA OF ROHAN: Brewed with 2-Row Pale, Munich I, Crystal Dark, Melanoidin, Midnight Wheat, and Flaked Barley, plus Nugget and Centennial hops, Outback Amber Ale is a full-bodied with rich malts, caramel, and dark fruits notes, plus a nice piney hop character.


Wednesday April 17 Tournament of Northwest Ambers Second Round action …

Game 1: Stemma Brewing First Amber (#16 seed) vs Hellbent Brewing Red Patina (#8 seed)

Game 2: Triceratops Brewing Collin James Irish Red (#10 seed) vs Silver City Ridgetop Red (#2 seed)

Game 3: Ancestry Brewing Irish Red (#12 seed) vs Pelican Sea’N Red (#4 seed)

Game 4: Crux Fermentation Project Mountain Traffic Red (#10 seed) vs Block 15 Brewing Ridgeback Red (#2 seed)

LINK: Tournament of Beers: Northwest Ambers explained

LINK: Tournament of Beer Headquarters

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