Tuesday, April 9th, 2024

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 9

Peaks & Pints Chef Aarongorn and barmaid Rish Tolkien are calling today’s Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers action.

Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 9

AARONGORN: Favorites or underdogs, American or Irish, amber or red ale — it’s all the same in the Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers. In the end, brewers from Washington and Oregon states in Middle-Northwest have one chance to soak malted barley in hot water to release the malt sugars, then boil the malt sugar solution with hops for seasoning, cool the solution, add yeast to begin fermentation to create and amber or red ale that can take the prize. Greetings everyone. I’m Peaks & Pints Chef Aarongorn and welcome to more Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers First Round action. With me is Peaks barmaid, Trish Tolkien.

TRISH TOLKIEN: Hi folks. Sixty-four Middle-Northwest amber and red ales were selected and seeded by beer enthusiasts in February for the Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers, which is now three days into the competition. Everyone is discussing sparging, exchangers, and Gandalf’s beard. It’s crazy fun.

AARONGORN: Below is a recap of yesterday’s action followed by eight new amber and red ales hitting the Shire, Rohan, Gondor, Mordor, and other Middle-Northwest courts today.

Monday, April 8, First Round Northwest Ambers games results

Aarongorn and Trish Tolkien were impressed with Pelican Brewing Sea’N Red’s win.


6. Heathen Brewing Arson Red vs. 11. Barrel Mountain Brewing Ash Cloud Amber

TRISH TOLKIEN: In yesterday’s closest battle, the two Vancouver breweries with fire-themed beers created quite the stir in Southwest Washington. Friendships might be ripped apart today. Heathen Brewing had a healthy lead until Barrel Mountain Brewing cranked up the pizza oven. Geremy Frasier, co-owner and manager of Barrel Mountain’s Pizza & Pints, gave an inspirational speech and the staff responded. Barrel Mountain started to slowly to take the lead — all the way to the buzzer. With 54 percent of the vote, Barrel Mountain’s Ash Cloud Amber has a spot in the Second Round.


3. Wet Coast Brewing Hi Jack! Red Ale vs 14. SiG Brewing Amber Rambler

AARONGORN: In a close game pitting two fairly-evenly matched local competitors (at least in the eyes of voters), Wet Coast Brewing was able to hold off SiG Brewing Head Brewer Jeff Stokes and his crew grabbing 53 percent of the vote. The Tournament of Beer Council believes the Amber Rambler’s disappearance several weeks ago from SiG’s taps as a factor. The Peaks & Pints staff reminds that Wet Coast owners Bryan and Aaron brew delicious beer and know what hell they’re doing.


5. Migration Brewing Cannon Ball NW Red vs 12. Ancestry Brewing Irish Red

TRISH TOLKIEN: Migration Brewing’s Cannon Ball NW Red had the lead during the wee hours until owner Jerry Turner turned on the lights at their Tualatin, Oregon, Ancestry brewery, called a family meeting, and basically said … “Now.” We’re not sure what the Turner family did, but they did it well. The votes poured in like a Dwarves hearing the dinner horn. Migration kept firing Cannon Balls, but Ancestry spry head brewer Sam Scoggin kept dodging them. When the final buzzer sounded, Ancestry had 69 percent of the vote and a slot in the Second Round.


4. Pelican Brewing Sea’N Red Irish red vs 13. McMenamins Red Rhino

AARONGORN: If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s don’t mess with the Oregon Coast. The denizens of the gorgeous seashore huddle around their own — often with sleeves rolled up and a clam shovel in their hand. Pelican Brewing won the Peaks & Pints Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships with the multiple award-winning Kiwanda Cream Ale, as well as a player in almost every other beer tournament we’ve hosted. The Pacific City based brewery with several other locations up and down the coast held a large lead all day and grabbed 78 percent of the vote when the final buzzer rang sending Red Rhino home and securing a spot in the Second Round.

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

Barrel Mountain Brewing Ash Cloud Amber

Wet Coast Hi Jack! Red Ale

Ancestry Brewing Irish Red Ale

Pelican Brewing Sea’N Red Irish Red Ale

TRISH TOLKIEN: 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. Barkeeps Bilbo Brandon and Phaedra of Rohan will announce the winners tomorrow morning around 10 a.m., even though the next four games will be underway.

Tuesday, April 10, First Round Northwest Ambers & Reds Games


Narrows Brewing barmaid Marissa has an Eldies Amber with your name on it.

Character: Eldies Amber (#7 seed)

House: Narrows Brewing, Tacoma

Stats: 5.7%, 30 IBU

AARONGORN: Founded 11 years ago by a group of friends and now run by owner and head brewer Parker Rush, Narrows Brewing is a 15-barrel brewhouse built on wood pilings next to Narrows Marina above the Narrows waterway with a glorious view of the Narrow Bridge and active waterfront. It’s common to see Gondor’s mariners docked below the brewery seeking growlers of Eldies Amber.

TRISH TOLKIEN: Crafted as a tribute to the tireless work and dedication of the fishing and dragon fighting industry, the smooth malty flavor and crisp dry finish make Eldies Amber the one you want to grab at when your travels end for the day.

Triceratops Brewing co-founder and head brewer Rob Horn sounds the horn summoning all Irish red ale drinkers.

Character: Collin James Irish Red Ale (#10 seed)

House: Triceratops Brewing, Tumwater

Stats: 5.3%

AARONGORN: Homebrewer Rob Horn left New Jersey to become a firefighter at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He and his wife, Kelly, opened Triceratops Brewing 10 years ago this August. With the last name Horn and three awesome kids, is there really any other brewery name? At first, they brewed out of their home garage. After thriving there for three years they opened a tasting room next to Matchless Brewing in Tumwater.

TRISH TOLKIEN: Low in alcohol and bitterness, Collin James Irish Red Ale is a well-balanced people pleaser. Lightly hopped with the mild, middle-earthy, and somewhat woody Fuggle variety, this beer entices the nose with a rich, toffee-like aroma. Meanwhile, notes of plum and raisin play with a slightly bready and nutty flavor provided by Irish ale malt and a touch of roasted barley.


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Silver City’s Malcolm is in the middle of a pint of Ridgetop red and our Usher Drinking Horn.

Character: Ridgetop Red Ale (#2 seed)

House: Silver City Brewery, Bremerton

Stats: 6%, 15 IBU

AARONGORN: Twenty-eight years ago, restaurateurs brothers Steve and Scott Houmes added craft beer to their lives when they teamed up with brewmaster “Big Daddy” Don Spencer and opened Silver City Brewery in Silverdale. The Houmes’ mission was to create happy, community-oriented restaurant and craft brewery. Twelve years later, the Houmes began distributing their beer around the Puget Sound. Fourteen years ago, the brothers moved their brewery operations to a new, 7,600 square foot production facility and taproom in Bremerton, which Scott Houmes runs today. Last year, Silver City turned 27 making it Bremerton’s oldest brewery.

TRISH TOLKIEN: Ridgetop is a term used to describe terrain at or near the top of a ridge. Ridges often exist as a boundary between windward and leeward slopes, and often exist as a safe spot in avalanche terrain, reducing or eliminating exposure to hazards from overhead or adjacent slopes — unless Stone-giants are hurling rocks at one another then all bets are off. Silver City’s Ridgetop Red brought home GABF gold in 2009, and though it takes some unexpected turns on the tongue, it’s clear why it’s a winner. There’s a beer for everyone (except Orcs). Ridgetop Red is everyone’s beer (except Orcs). Full-bodied and smooth, this ale surges hits the tongue with grainy caramel sweetness before lifting into pear and passionfruit notes. It’s never overly sweet, but it also doesn’t completely dry out in the finish: A touch of bitter Liberty hops kick in at the end, completing a well-balanced swallow.

54°40′ Brewing founder Bolt Minister takes a break from building a second taproom in Washougal to sip on his Red Zeppelin.

Character: Red Zeppelin Amber Ale (#15 seed)

House: 54°40′ Brewing, Washougal

Stats: 5.6%, 26 IBU

AARONGORN: Bolt Minister started 54°40′ Brewing nine years ago with a production facility and taproom just south of SR14 highway in Washougal and opened 54°40′ Beer Lodge east in Stevenson. The company brewed 2,700 barrels in 2021 with distribution in Northwest Oregon and through its own locations. The popular microbrewery’s name is derived from a 1862-1864 negotiation between the U.S. and Britain regarding establishing the Canadian border of the Oregon territory, which was achieved by compromise at the 49th parallel. Minister will open a new location — with a full-service restaurant and taproom — at the Evergreen Marketplace in Washougal.

TRISH TOLKIEN: Crafted to be an everyday drinking red ale with a fresh baked bread, caramel, and earthy hop nose, Red Zeppelin is brewed with a big Amarillo dry hop for bright aroma and enticing finish.



Character: Full Sail Amber Ale (#1 seed)

House: Full Sail Brewing, Hood River

Stats: 6%, 31 IBU

AARONGORN: Thirty-seven years ago, perched on a bluff in Hood River, Oregon, overlooking the mighty Columbia River’s epic wind and kite surfing, Full Sail turned on the mash tun. The brewery’s sustainable practices have garnered more than 300 national and international awards, including more than 200 gold medals, including 28 gold medals for their Full Sail Amber Ale. Full Sail is list on many brewery owners’ and head brewers’ resumes.

TRISH TOLKIEN: Two years after opening, Full Sail brewed the first batch of Full Sail Amber. The first amber ale in Oregon, it is a sweet, malty, medium-bodied ale with a spicy, floral hop finish. It’s brewed with 2-row Pale, Crystal, and Chocolate malts. And they hop it with Mt. Hoods and Cascade.

Living Haus bartender Kristen will introduce you to Kenny.

Character: Kenny Hoppy Red Ale (#16 seed)

House: Living Haus, Portland

Stats: 6.5%

AARONGORN: During the pandemic, Conrad Andrus left his five-year brewing job at Culmination Brewing to join head brewer Mat Sandoval at Modern Times Beer’s Belmont Fermentorium, a Portland location for the San Diego brewery. After Modern Times in Portland shutdown in February 2022, Andrus and Sandoval opened Living Haus Beer Co. in the shuttered Belmont Fermentorium with former pFriem Family Brewers’ Head Brewer Gavin Lord joining the partnership. The Living Haus trio transformed the space into a sleek, modern brewery and taproom while keeping the building’s character, which dates to the 1930s.

TRISH TOLKIEN: By the beard of Gandalf that’s quite pedigree! Their hoppy red ale Kenny is a throwback to the craft beers of yesterday with the up-to-date hop intensity. It’s brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops grown in New Zealand, Citra grown in Washington, and Chinook grown in Oregon. They used an almost even split of 2-row and Pilsner malts along with a dash of German Carabohemian malt for color and some light chocolate notes to balance this extra hoppy ale with aromas of grapefruit and fresh pine melding with hints of blueberry, chocolate covered oranges, and candied apricot flavors.

AARONGORN: Who’s Kenny?

TRISH TOLKIEN: Kenny is one half of their design partners at StarKeep Studio. Kenny designs their can labels when he’s not jamming out to surf rock or hitting up ren fairs.



Character: Ramona Red (#8 seed)

House: Zoiglhaus Brewing, Portland

Stats: 6.5%, 60 IBU

AARONGORN: Alan Taylor learned to brew beer while earning a PhD in language. Beer spoke his language. He went to VLB in Berlin and then spent more than a decade bouncing back and forth between Germany and the US as a brewer. When he opened Zoiglhaus Brewing eight years ago, it wasn’t a shock that he would produce classic German beers (and a few American ones, as well). In Berlin, he studied the obscure Berliner weisse style and makes one of the best examples in the world, and, a year after Zoiglhaus opened, his pilsner won gold at GABF.

TRISH TOLKIEN: Cascade and Columbus hops are right at home in this Middle-Northwest style red ale: Wood, spice, pine, and citrus notes shine against the crisp backdrop of a blend of pale, carapils, caramel and chocolate malts.

Since Hopworks didn’t have their Galactic Imperial Red on tap, bartender Tristan hoists their amber lager.

Character: Galactic Imperial Red Ale (#9 seed)

House: Hopworks Brewery, Portland

Stats: 8.5%, 99 IBU

AARONGORN: Christian Ettinger spent time at Eugene City Brewery, graduated from Intensive Brewing and Science and Engineering courses with the American Brewers Guild, and was awarded the World Beer Cup Champion Brewmaster while brewing at Laurelwood Pub and Brewery in Portland before he and his wife, Brandie, opened Hopworks Urban Brewery 17 years ago. While the Ettingers are obviously proud of their beers and multiple locations, but they might be even more proud of B Corporation certification, Salmon-Safe Certification, and their other endeavors to preserve the planet and build community.

TRISH TOLKIEN: They should be proud of their hoppy AF Galactic Imperial Red Ale filled with a galaxy of organic goodness, robust caramel malt, and Middle-Northwest Centennial and Cascade hops one of the hoppiest red ales in this tournament.


Thanks for voting in Peaks and Pints Tournament of Beer: Northwest Ambers April 9!

Wednesday, April 10 Tournament of Northwest Ambers action …

Game 1: Bainbridge Arrow Point Amber (#5 seed) vs Diamond Knot Slane’s Irish red Ale (#12 seed)

Game 2: No-Li Porch Glow Amber (#4 seed) vs Kulshan Brewing Local Amber (#13 seed)

Game 3: Barley Brown’s Point Blank Red (#6 seed) vs Oblivion Brewing Road Ryder Red (#11 seed)

Game 4: Ninkasi Dawn of the Red (#3 seed) vs Falling Sky Storm Walker Red (#14 seed)

LINK: Tournament of Beers: Northwest Ambers explained

LINK: Tournament of Beer Headquarters

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