I arrived 15 minutes late. The Puyallup River Alehouse was packed.
Owners, head brewers and sales representatives from South Sound breweries gathered in the back, near the beer taps.
Puyallup River Brewing owner/head brewer Eric Akeson towered above the crowd as if the beanstalk had been cut.
I had to squeeze through a narrow tunnel of beer drinkers to order a beer. Securing a Three Magnets Brewing Co. bronze medal winning Barley Wine, I leaned against the wall, listening to the beer community chat. Harmon Brewing Co. head brewer Jeff Carlson shared his annual Fall Ball Imperial Harvest Ale is in the tanks. I heard Three Magnets head brewer Pat Jansen say he’s working on a black lager. Puyallup River Brewing brewer Nat Woodsmith mentioned a Strawberry Saison is coming and more Electron IPA is on the way. Fish Brewing Company head brewer Paul Pearson chatted with Top Rung Brewing Company sales rep Mike Besser. Three Magnets Brewing assistant brewer and bar manager Jeff Stokes shared stories with Top Rung co-owner and manager Casey Sobol. Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. head brewer Steve Navarro and sales rep Andy Kenser laughed with Wingman Brewers head brewer Ken Thoburn. Engine House No. 9 sales representative Todd McLaughlin pointed across the room to someone.
All that was missing at the South Sound Brewery Medal Showcase Brewers’ Night was a red carpet. The party, if you will, and it was in so many ways, was Akeson’s way of recognizing and celebrating the South Sound brewers who walked away with 2015 Washington Beer Awards medals a month ago. Akeson’s brewery grabbed Small Brewery of the Year, and he beat Fish Brewing, Large Brewery of the Year, to the party-hosting punch, inviting the public to come drink the award-winning beers and mingle with the talent.
And the public came. And they sang. And they drank.
The only way Akeson could break apart the South Sound brewery group hug was to issue free South Sound Medal Showcase posters to the drinkers, encouraging them to ask the brewers to sign their names as a keepsake.
It worked. Posters were signed on the pool table. Posters were signed on the bar. Brewers even signed posters on the backs of other brewers. Not surprising, body parts were also signed.
For a three-hour period, the South Sound brewing community dropped their hops and hoses, connecting with each other and the community.
For a list of the South Sound beer medal winners, visit: http://on.fb.me/1Iu7DBZ
To next year!