In all the years we spent growing up in our parents’ house, we don’t think we ever heard them use the word “bouquet.” “Bathroom,” “stinks,” and “indigestion” — these words we heard a lot.
In the late 1980s, we hung out with a lovely, fun Australian couple — he was a professor of anesthesiology; she a free spirit. They adored decadent wine, mostly red wines of California, with amazing bouquets. They trained our palettes. We gained an appreciation for bigger, bolder Californian wines, which translated into a desire for bigger, bolder, and more flavorful beer. Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Redhook ESB, Pyramid Pale, Widmer Hefe eventually lead us into the 1990s.
All four of those flagship beers were publically voted into the Peaks & Pints Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships, which kicked off Friday for a three-week run to the championship game Saturday, April 25. Sixty-four flagship beers from Washington, Oregon and California, separated into four decade regions: 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, are making their way through First Round action. Today marks Day Three of the Tournament.
First, we present a recap of yesterday’s action followed by eight new flagships hitting the court today.
1990s Flagships: 6. Silver City Ridgetop Red vs. 11. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
“Ah, now there’s a classic American IPA!” yelled Peaks & Pints’ beer line cleaner. “That’s Racer 5!” Indeed, the “older” IPA isn’t over the top, isn’t hazy, and isn’t brewed with lactose. No the classic California IPA suited up, maybe with extra support tape around the bottleneck, and ran the multiple award-winning red ale up and down the court like it was late, great Kobe Bryant. Racer 5 races into the Second Round with 67 percent of the votes.
1990s Flagships: 3. Stone IPA vs. 14. Dick’s Dick Danger Ale
Danger Dick Danger! Leave it to one of the consummate, if not notorious, West Coast breweries to let their delicious India pale ale score freely. Stone IPA, with its spicy aroma, a fruity sweetness, bold bite and swagger, put the hurt on our state’s first black IPA racking up 78 percent of the vote and a date Bear Republic Racer 5 in the Second Round.
2000s Flagships: 5. Fort George Vortex IPA vs. 12. 21st Amendment Brew Free! Or Die IPA
Even though 21st Amendment Brewery owners Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan fed their flagship Brew Free! Or Die IPA with enough Franklin D. Roosevelt inspirational quotes to end a world war, Fort George Brewery’s Vortex IPA is basically the U.S. Army Chief of Staff George Marshall of beers in Oregon, and it led Fort George brewery to a victory with 71 percent of the votes.
2000s Flagships: 4. Fremont Universale vs. 13. Two Beers Immersion Amber
At 7:30 p.m. last night, these two Seattle flagships were at a dead tie. Both exhausted, Fremont Brewing reminded Two Beers that their neighborhood is considered the “Center of the Universe,” and Universale honors the namesake of their zen neighborhood. Two Beers stood up straight and said, “The universe has no center, at least according to the leading explanations for how it expanded in the moments after the Big Bang. And we’re about to put the Big Bang on you!” Two Beers dug deep, amber deep if you will, and racked up 67 percent of the votes, launching their Immersion Amber into the Second Round.
Let’s weed through the malts. The following are advancing to the Second Round:
Bear Republic Racer 5
Fort George Vortex IPA
Two Beers Immersion IPA
OK, let’s apply hand sanitizer, and dive into today’s First Round West Coast flagship battles. Vote for one flagship beer per game. Voting for today’s flagship battles ends at 11:45 p.m.
Tuesday, April 7, First Round West Coast Flagship Games
GAME 1, 1990s
Player: Scotch Ale, seventh seed
Team: Boundary Bay Brewery
Location: 1107 Railroad Ave., Bellingham, Washington
Wonders Years: 1995, “Houston, we have a problem,” said Tom Hanks. Skee-Lo had a height problem. We had a problem with the new language, Java. We’re not sure if Ed Bennet had a problem opening Boundary Bay Brewery, but he did in Bellingham. Bennett, a University of Washington alum, went on to earn his Master’s degree in winemaking from UC Davis before landing in another small college town, Bellingham, to begin exploring his new love, beer. In 1994, he signed the lease for the Thomas Burns building at 1107 Railroad Ave. to begin building Boundary Bay Brewery. His Scotch Ale, his inaugural brew in 1995, became a Northwest classic.
Player Stats: Scotch Ale’s long boil in the kettle caramelizes the wort, producing deep-copper tones. It hits the nose with caramel and biscuit, which is also the flavor profile with added light spiciness, oak notes, pine and a touch of dark fruit. There’s depth to this Scotch, but still very approachable. Slight bitterness combined with the malty sweetness makes for a great, lingering aftertaste.
ABV: 6.4%, IBU: 31
Player: Amber, tenth seed
Team: Scuttlebutt Brewing
Location: 3314 Cedar St., Everett, Washington
Wonder Years: 1996, days after the government interrupted the Unabomber’s vacation in a Montana cabin, Michael Jordan leads the Bulls to the most wins ever, 70, then beat the Sonics in the Championship series. We wore the Motorola Star TAC on our belt. We browsed Netscape Navigator, while Phil Bannan Sr. and his family founded Scuttlebutt Brewing in Everett. The family business started with a homebrewing kit Bannan’s wife, Cynthia, bought him on Father’s Day in 1990. Cynthia eventually kicked him out of the kitchen and into a facility at the Port of Everett. They decided to name their brewery “Scuttlebutt” after Cynthia’s nickname bestowed upon by her father after her impending birth became the scuttlebutt of Naval Station Norfolk where he worked. Phil Bannan Jr. is the brewery’s general manager, and he and his wife, Mindy, designed the taproom inside the production brewery in downtown Everett.
Player Stats: Former Head Brewer Matt Stromberg developed the flagship Amber recipe, and Eric Nord ran with it for a couple years before switching from English to American yeast — specifically, US-05. The new yeast strain imparts a crisper and cleaner flavor profile for the beer. The Nugget and Mt. Hood hops remain in tact, as does the malty, caramel flavor with the herbal hop finish.
ABV: 5%, IBU: 25
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “What would have been an Interstate-5 burner with folks visiting both breweries in a day will instead be played with just finger taps on the couch. The Scotch will be tough to beat, unless Scuttlebutt starts some scuttlebutt.”
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Game 2: 1990s
Player: Tacoma Brew, second seed
Team: E9 Brewing
Location: 2506 Fawcett Ave., Tacoma, Washington
Wonders Years: 1995, we enjoyed bluegrass jams in the Sheraton Tacoma elevators during the first of many Wintergrass bluegrass festivals. Brian Ebersole was elected mayor of Tacoma where he went on to lead the renovation of Union Station into a federal courthouse, the siting of the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma, the creation of the University of Washington Tacoma campus and other achievements. Hillary Clinton was the First Lady, cell phones were used only for calls, and Dusty Trail converted the historic Engine House No. 9 bar into a brewpub, and brought back the Tacoma Brew, the famous Tacoma kolsch of 1888. In 2011, X group purchased E-9, with Shane Johns running the kettles and hanging the medals. Last year, they separated the brewery from the restaurant and opened E9 Brewing in Tacoma’s Historic Brewery District.
Player Stats: Columbia Brewing Co. brewed Tacoma Brew in the late 1800s. in Tacoma’s now Historic Brewery District. Beer made at the facility gained national attention for its flavor and smooth aftertaste in the early 1920s, prompting the brewery to double in size and increase capacity by the mid-1930s. Success at the plant got the attention of another brewery, Heidelberg Brewing Co., which purchased the Columbia plant in 1949 and set out for another round of remodeling. The facility was bought yet again a decade later by Carling Brewery, making it the only West Coast holding of the otherwise East Coast beer company. The brewery is long gone but Tacoma Brew, a Kolsch, is still being brewed. Tacoma’s Engine House No. 9, now E9 Brewing, bought the recipe for the breweries’ “Tacoma” brew and still serves it many, many years after the originating brewery held its last call. Tacoma’s first beer has a medium body accentuated with crisp Northwest hops.
Player: Adam, fifteenth seed
Team: Hair of the Dog Brewing
Location: 61 SE Yamhill St., Portland, Oregon
Wonder Years: 1994, we learned Lloyd Christmas’ girlfriend’s name was Samsonite. We learned they would be there for us (When the rain starts to pour) and they were. We watched Madonna drop the F-bomb 14 times on Letterman. It also seemed like everything was like a box of chocolates. South, in Portland, Alan Sprints opened Hair of the Dog Brewing, one of the first breweries in America specializing in the production of high alcohol, bottle conditioned beers as well as experimenting with the barrel aging process. He opened with Adam.
Player Stats: Inspired by the historical style Adambier from Germany, Adam is a strong, dark smoky ale aged for an extended time in barrels for deeply bready malt flavors layered with roast, smoke, and leather. It’s astonishingly complex and punishingly strong at 10-percent alcohol.
ABV: 10%, IBU: 50
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “Beer geeks will gather in Zoom meetings and argue this match-up until the Spotted Cow comes home. Both brewery’s have notable histories and notable recipes. It will come down to which city jumps on the finger taps.”
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
GAME 3, 2000s
Player: Manny’s Pale Ale, first seed
Team: Georgetown Brewing
Location: 5200 Denver Ave S, Seattle, Washington
Wonder Years: 2002, we were headed to watch the first Seattle Seahawks home game at Seattle’s new Qwest Field when Nelly said it was “Hot In Herre.” Manny Chao and Roger Bialous were down the street at the Seattle Brewing and Malting Plant (where Rainier Beer was once produced) brewing what would definitely become their newly founded Georgetown Brewing flagship beer, Manny’s Pale Ale.
Player Stats: As Georgetown’s flagship beer, Manny’s Pale Ale accounts for a large majority of the Seattle brewery’s production. While it might not be the hoppiest pale ale in the state, it’s crisp, clean, and smooth, with a hint of citrus and a snappy hop finish. It’s the most popular beer in Seattle.
ABV: 5.4%, IBU: 38
Player: West Coast IPA, sixteenth seed
Team: Green Flash Brewing
Location: 6550 Mira Mesa Blvd., San Diego, California
Wonder Years: 2002, we attended the grand opening of the Museum of Glass in downtown Tacoma, which is now a collecting institution with a Hot Shop that brings in World Class glassmakers. The year also brought in “Dirrty” Christina Aguilera, Ozzy falling back in his chair, Michael Jackson child dangling, Ozzy stuck on the Weather Channel, Kelly Clarkson winning the first American Idol, Ozzy trying to open a DVD, and Green Flash Brewing successfully opening in Vista, California, behind their style-defining West Coast IPA. Ten years later they moved into a new Mira Mesa facility, with a production capacity of 100,000 barrels per year. The owner of the West Coast IPA trademark, and the first modern greater San Diego brewery to distribute to all 50 states, Green Flash several years in expansion mode prior to 2018, purchasing Alpine Beer Co. and establishing breweries in other states. But in April 2018, the company abruptly announced it had gone into foreclosure. Green Flash Brewing Company was dissolved, and its assets were sold by its lender, Comerica Bank.
Player Stats: West Coast IPA left Washington state in 2018, taking with it so much good, green stuff. Imagine licking a pine sapling on a spring day in a grassy meadow with your friend blowing weed smoke in your face. Seriously, West Coast is a bit like cramming fistfuls of freshly mowed grass into your gob due to a “menagerie of hops” layered throughout the brewing process including Simcoe (to impart a unique fruitiness and grapefruit zest), CTZ (for strong hop pungency), Centennial (for pine and citrus notes), and Cascade (for floral aroma). As the brewery put it, it was a “multi-dimensional hop experience.”
ABV: 8.1%, IBU: 95
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “Hmm, let’s see: Georgetown Brewing is the largest producing brewery in the state, Manny’s is one of the most popular beers in the state, and Green Flash is kaput. Hmm. …”
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
GAME 4, 2000s
Player: Pilsner Lager, eighth seed
Team: Chuckanut Brewery
Location: 601 W. Holly St., Bellingham, Washington
Wonder Years: 2008, the year came in like a Britney Spears meltdown and out like a No. 1 Britney Spears “Circus.” In between, we enjoyed Indiana Elderly Jones, Don Draper drinks and President Obama. Up in Bellingham, Will and Mari Kemper took two decades of professional involvement with craft brewing, both home and abroad, and opened Chucknut Brewery with Josh Pfriem at the helm.
Player Stats: In the early 1980s, chemical engineer and homebrewer Will Kemper paid a visit to the brewmaster of the now-defunct Rainier Brewery in Seattle where he was told he couldn’t open a brewery because he wasn’t born into it. Good one. In 1984, Kemper, his wife, Mari, and Andy Thomas opened Thomas Kemper Brewery in Poulsbo, Washington. In 1992, Thomas Kemper merged with Hart Brewing, which went on to be Pyramid Breweries. The Kempers saw the ugly side of the business and became consultants with East Coast and international breweries. After a bunch of traveling, they moved back to Bellingham where they opened Chuckanut in 2008 — a convergence of technical and engineering concepts developed from more than two decades of professional involvement with craft brewing both home and abroad. They hired Josh Pfriem as their head brewer, who went on to open pFriem Family Brewers in Hood Rover, Oregon. Following their passion for German pilsners, the Kempers brewed their own golden, vivid, crisp version with Pilsner malt and secret noble hops. They transferred their multiple award-winning pilsner production from their Bellingham brewery to their 40-barrel production facility in Mount Vernon.
ABV: 5%, IBU: 36
Player: Total Domination IPA, ninth seed
Team: Ninkasi Brewing
Location: 155 Blair Blvd., Eugene, Oregon
Wonder Years: 2006, Facebook opens to everyone and all hell broke loose: we could share our thoughts on Jim and Pam’s first kiss, the “Evolution of Dance” video, the very first tweet and posthumous Audrey Hepburn in a Gap commercial dancing to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” For a few years after its 2006 introduction, Total Domination experienced exactly that, crushing the competition and putting Eugene upstart Ninkasi Brewing on the map. The brewery has grown from a two-man team — Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge — to become the 35th largest craft brewery in the United States, operating entirely from its facilities in Eugene, Oregon and employing more than 100 employees.
Player Stats: Brewed with 2-row Pale, Munich and Carahell malts balanced by Summit, Amarillo and Crystal hops, Total Domination hits the nose with honey sweetness and fruity juicy hops aroma — blueberry, raspberry, oranges, and some evergreen. We find full flavor both from the body and the hops character, especially the blueberry. Caramel malt backbone elevates the hops to just where they need to be. Appropriate malt character and bitterness points to how well blended and integrated it is. Expect big juicy notes with a moderate bitterness.
ABV: 6.7%, IBU: 65
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “What? Washington state beer founders with a multiple award-winning pilsner versus an extreme successful brewery with top-notch marketing. Ready, set, go!”
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE: >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 8 TOURNAMENT OF BEER: WEST COAST FLAGSHIPS ACTION
Game 1, 1980s: 5. ESB, Redhook Brewery (714 E. Pike St., Seattle, Washington) vs. Amber Ale, Full Sail Brewing (506 Columbia St., Hood River, Oregon)
Game 2, 1980s: 4. Pike XXXXX Stout, Pike Brewing (1415 1st Ave., Seattle, Washington) vs. 13. Terminator Stout, McMenamins (430 N. Killingsworth St., Portland, Oregon)
Game 3, 2010s: 6. Pilz, Crux Fermentation Project (50 SW Division St., Bend, Oregon) vs. 11. Bastard Kat IPA, Kulshan Brewing 9 1538 Kentucky St., Bellingham, Washington)
Game 4, 2010s: 3. Pilsner, pFriem Family Brewers (707 Portway Ave., Hood River, Oregon) vs. 14. Broken Window IPA, Tacoma Brewing (1116 Court E., Tacoma, Washington)