Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships First Round April 11
Over a three-week period, Peaks and Pints pits 64 of the West Coast’s best in a malt-to-malt battle of flagship beers. This is a tournament, folks, not a playoff. Each match is do or die — one misstep and you’re out of the dance. Sluggish yeast due to cold water, krausen is forced into the airlock, and you can pack your brewers paddle and go home. Sure, there are plenty of new brewers wearing “Frankie Says Extract” T-shirts who can still brew a mighty fine batch of their brewery’s flagship. The West Coast’s finest brew it perfect every time.
The Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships hosts competitions Monday through Friday up to the championship game Saturday, April 25 with mostly likely growler fills rather than the planned pints. Without further ado, let’s take a gander at yesterday’s results. After the weekend break, eight new flagships go at it around 9 a.m. Monday, April 13.
1980s Flagships: 7. Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale vs. 10. Anchor Brewing Anchor Steam
Everyone loves a good comeback, and this may have been one of the better clutch performances in the (obviously short) history of the Tournament of Beer. Down by a substantial margin by midday, Anderson Valley’s Boont Amber Ale was able to rally the troops at halftime, and by the time the final buzzer sounded the beer Esquire magazine named as one of the “Best Canned Beers to Drink Now” in February 2012 racked up 52 percent of the vote over the historic Anchor Steam. In a world filled with hopped-up IPAs and oak-aged imperial stouts, and extreme beers of all stripes, one should never overlook the merits of a very good, very well-brewed, amber ale.
1980s Flagships: 2. Deschutes Black Butte Porter vs. 15. Drake’s Best Coast IPA
Peaks & Pints’ beer tournaments mean everything — perhaps too much, as a brewery that dominates its region during regular season play can have one bad decision and see its season go down the drain. Certainly there is drama of the highest kind when it comes to running a brewery. Drake’s Brewing’s lone posted on their Facebook yesterday was a photo of their Black Robusto Robust Porter. Ballsy. Trying to one-up Black Butte Porter with a porter didn’t seem like a wise idea. Seizing the opportunity, maybe with a little extra steam out the ears, Deschutes pounded Drake’s into submission with 87 percent of the vote. Nobody tries to put Black Butte Porter in the corner.
2010s Flagships: 5. Breakside IPA vs. 12. Wayfinder Czech-Style Decocted Pilsner
In a back and forth matchup pitting two fairly evenly matched competitors (at least in the eyes of voters, it seems), Breakside Brewery was eventually able to pull ahead of Wayfinder’s Czech-Style Decocted Pilsner thanks to a late run — grabbing 51 percent of the votes. The loss has to be especially tough for Wayfinder, as they entered the Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships with plenty of hype, mainly coming from their latest CZAF Czech-Style Decocted Pilsner in cans. That said, Breakside’s IPA thanks its lucky stars with its more than 25 medals and accolades. You can’t question Breakside Brewery’s following, and sometimes a following is just what it takes in the Tournament of Beer.
2010s Flagships: 4. Bale Breaker Topcutter IPA vs. 13. Top Rung My Dog Scout Stout
Once this game began it reaffirmed our opinion that there is no substitution for seeing a game like this in person, despite all of the advances in home entertainment technology. No screen or monitor can adequately capture the vividness of giant fields of hop bines sprouting, or convey the towering physical presence of a stack of Munich malt bags. On the scrteen, Loral hops look like an afterthought. In person, Loral hops look ferocious. And according to statistics, Loral hops were the deciding factor in this game. Fourth seed Topcutter, behind its Loral hops, knocked off 13th seed My Dog Scout Stout with 54 percent of the votes.
Let’s weed through the malts. The following are advancing to the Second Round:
Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Breakside India Pale Ale
Bale Breaker Topcutter IPA
MONDAY, APRIL 13 TOURNAMENT OF BEER: WEST COAST FLAGSHIPS ACTION
Game 1, 1990s: 5. Kiwanda Cream, Pelican Brewing (33180 Cape Kiwanda Dr., Pacific City, Oregon) vs. 12. The Immortal, Elysian Brewing (5410 Airport Way S., Seattle, Washington)
Game 2, 1990s: 4. IPA, Lagunitas Brewing (1280 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, California) vs. 13. Blonde Bombshell, Cascade Lakes Brewing (1441 SW Chandler Ave., Bend, Oregon)
Game 3, 2000s: 7. Irish Death, Iron Horse Brewery (412 N. Main Ellensburg, Washington) vs. 10. Jackass IPA, Skookum Brewery (17925 59th Ave. NE, Arlington, Washington)
Game 4, 2000s: 2. Rude Parrot IPA, 7 Seas Brewing (2101 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma, Washington) vs. 15. Hop Lava IPA, Double Mountain Brewery (8 4th St., Hood River, Oregon)