Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships First Round April 9
There are certain nights in your life that are ruled by forces beyond your control — magic, romance, destiny. Nights where love catches you by surprise. And things are never quite the same again. We were lucky enough to have one of those nights and the memory returns every time we hear, “Pyramid Pale Ale.”
One of the major international events of 1985 occurred at Mount Rainier National Park with a six-pack of said beer. It was of course the recent arrival of Gette, the Swedish exchange student who stayed with a close friend in high school and returned for a visit. A camping weekend turned into a college semester in Denmark where things were put into perspective. Didn’t matter; there was Carlsberg Elephant Extra Strong beer and all the adventures.
Pyramid Pale Ale doesn’t play Rogue Shakespeare Stout until April 14 in Peaks & Pints Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships, but this tournament brings back a flood of memories.
Patterned after the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, Peaks & Pints’ Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships features 64 flagship beers from Washington, Oregon and California, all seeded by public vote, and separated into four decade regions: 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. These top 64 vote getters — the cream of the dream — battle Monday through Friday right here, April 3-25. Through online voting, West Coast flagship beer drinkers are picking daily winners until the best flagship is crowned. It’s just like March Madness, only with way more Two-row malts.
Today, eight new flagships take the court in the Tournament of Beer: West Coast Flagships.
First, we present a recap of yesterday’s action and the winners, followed by the eight new flagships.
1980s Flagships: 5. Redhook ESB vs. 12. Full Sail Amber
When an amber-colored beer beats another amber colored beer by 68 percent of the vote, it’s called being “Maris-Departed” in the craft beer world. No truly, look it up. Redhook’s ESB Maris-Departed Full Sail’s Amber. No surprise, really. It’s hard to beat Seattle’s pioneering, 1981-founded craft brewery that calls itself the “granddaddy of craft” AND its classic English-style Extra Special Bitter. Will that stop folks from hanging out at the popular, scenic Full Sail brewery in Hood River? Nope. Redhook EBS moves into the Second Round.
1980s Flagships: 4. Pike XXXXX Stout vs. McMenamins Terminator Stout
We truly wanted this game to be closer. We grew up drinking both these stouts. But, it wasn’t. We’re surprised Pike XXXXX Stout didn’t add an extra “X” after beating the delicious Terminator Stout by 63 percent of the votes. But, Pike Brewing Company, the brewery that opened in 1989, is perhaps best known for its Pike XXXXX Stout, a nod to the English stouts owner Charles Finkel loves, and it’s not crazy to think this stout could take this tournament.
2010s Flagships: Cruz Pilz vs. Kulshan Bastard Kat IPA
Kulshan Brewing is a winner. They win medals. They win hearts. They win Tournament of Beer: Northwest Pilsners. They know how to rally votes. They know how to rally around the family with a pocket full of shells. Sea shells, of course, because they’re the sweetest folks. Alright, alright, it’s like they brewed our house beer Tree-dimensional IPA, or something. OK, Bastard Kat held a small lead all day over Cruz Pilz, ending up with 57 percent of the votes and a date with the Second Round.
2010s Flagships: pFriem Pilsner vs. Tacoma Broken Window IPA
We’ve know Tacoma Brewing founder and head brewer Morgan Alexander for 12 years or so. We were there when he opened his tiny taproom in Tacoma’s Triangle District, but knew him long before that. Anyway, this isn’t the Tournament of Relationships, because Alexander lost to the folks we’ve thankfully known since 2015, pFriem Family Brewers. pFriem Pilsner is so much more than just beer. They could rip through this tournament like they did last year in our pilsner contest. pFriem Pilsner won 68 percent of the votes and moves into the Second Round.
Let’s weed through the malts. The following are advancing to the Second Round:
Pike XXXXX Stout
Kulshan Bastard Kat 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.
Thursday, April 9, First Round West Coast Flagship Games
GAME 1, 1990s
Player: African Amber Ale, number one seed
Team: Mac & Jack’s Brewing
Location: 17825 NE 65th St., Redmond, Washington
Wonders Years: 1991, Mac Rankin started homebrewing and fell in love with the process. He probably started homebrewing to relieve stress as it was Dave Krieg’s final season in Seattle, when he was one of four quarterbacks to start during Seattle’s 7-9 season.
1993: Mac approached Jack Schropp with the possibility about starting a microbrewery. Over the next nine months the first batches of the African Amber and Pale Ale were rolled out while Nivana’s In Utero cranked in Jack’s garage.
1994: After much success with the Amber and the Pale Ale, Mac & Jack’s finalized their African Amber, Blackcat Porter and Serengeti Wheat (their hefeweizen beer). These signature beers were introduced at the The Park Pub, next to the Woodland Park Zoo. The Mac & Jack’s brews were held high as Sukari, a female giraffe, and Rafiki, the male giraffe, at Woodland Park Zoo gave birth to a 5-foot, 6-inch female named Karani. She weighed 140 pounds at birth.
1995: After two great years of making craft beer by themselves, Mac and Jack began to hire more staff. It was a miracle beer was brewed as the entire staff had their eyes glued to the Mariners’ magic season. It’s believed Jack wanted to change the name of African Amber to Randy Amber.
1996: Mac and Jack realized that it was time to move out of Jack’s garage. After eight months they finally started construction in August at North Sammamish Center in Redmond, Washington. After the move, Microsoft’s stock splits 2-for-1, its sixth split since the company went public 10 years before.
1997-2000: Production was quickly maxed out, and Mac & Jack’s remodeled the brewery four times to increase overall production. The Kingdome exploded.
2018: Mac & Jack’s was the fourth largest craft brewery in Washington state that year, producing 34,444 barrels, behind Georgetown Brewing, Elysian Brewing and Fremont Brewing.
Player Stats: For the longest time, still probably, everyone asked for a Mac & Jack’s when desiring an African Amber Ale, the Northwest’s original, unfiltered and dry hopped amber ale. On the tongue, expect a floral, hoppy taste, followed by a well-rounded malty middle, finishing with a nicely organic hop flavor. Locally sourced Two-row grain and a blend of specialty malts give the amber its rich taste.
ABV: 5.8%, IBU: 30
Player: Flagship Red, sixteenth seed
Team: Maritime Pacific Brewing
Location: 1111 NW Ballard Way, Seattle, Washington
Wonder Years: 1990, Madonna inspired us to strike a pose at Ted Turner’s Goodwill Games in Seattle, while MC Hammer told us not to touch things. Across town in Ballard, George and Jane Hancock opened Maritime Brewing Company in an old transmission shop. Ballard’s nutty Scandinavians couldn’t get enough of Maritime’s flagship, Red Alt Ale, which made their driving speeds even slower.
Player Stats: 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 similar to 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.
ABV: 5.2%, IBU: 28
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “OK, now we’re getting somewhere — two classic longtime, Washington state amber ales battling it out. African Amber has the universal name recognition, though, which could prove to have the winning edge. The votes will tell.”
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Game 2: 1990s
Player: DBA—a.k.a. Double Barrel Ale, eighth seed
Team: Firestone Walker Brewing
Location: 1649 Ramada Dr., Paso Robles, California
Wonders Years: 1996, we learned about Dolly, the cloned sheep, that was named after busty singer Dolly Parton because her DNA came from a mammary gland cell. The most famous person in America was probably Lance Armstrong. “Show me the money!” was the new “Where’s the beef?” and Adam Firestone asked his brother-in-law David Walker to be his business partner at Firestone Walker Brewing Company. In addition to winning gobs of medals for individual brews, these obnoxiously talented individuals took home all the major hardware at competitions like the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup — titles such as “Brewery of the Year” or “Brewer of the Year.”
Player Stats: DBA is the trailblazing ﬂagship beer that started it all for Firestone Walker. Partially fermented in their patented Firestone Union oak barrel brewing system, DBA quickly took the Central Coast by storm and set the pace for future beers to come. Today, DBA is regarded as a California classic, and stands as an iconic tribute to traditional cask-fermented English ales. Pale malts create a smooth middle with ribbons of caramel, English toffee and toasted oak.
ABV: 7%, IBU: 65
Player: Puget Sound Porter, ninth seed
Team: Harmon Brewing
Location: 1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, Washington
Wonder Years: 1997, we heard about Princess Diana dying in a car crash, we saw Rose marking, in steam, the inside of a car parked in the Titanic, and Pat Nagle invested in the future of Tacoma. “Reflecting back on the business is just as crazy to think about as it was to open an eight thousand square foot microbrewery and restaurant in downtown Tacoma in 1997,” he told the Weekly Volcano. “Crazy! It was The Swiss, The Rock, Old Spaghetti Factory and the Harmon Brewery and Restaurant — that was about it back then. We opened with a state-of-the-art 15-barrel brewhouse, five, 15-barrel fermentation tanks and seven conditioning tanks.”
Carol Holder joined Nagle in the venture, which grew into multiple restaurants. “One of the most exciting things that happened was winning a gold medal at the 1999 Great American Beer Festival for the Puget Sound Porter,” he said in the same interview. “It was a really incredible achievement as it was our first time going and it’s a very large and hard beer category to win. The Puget Sound Porter has since won gold and silver in the Washington Beer Awards and is a go-to favorite for all of the Porter and Stout lovers out there.”
Sadly, Harmon Brewing imploded, ceasing in-house brewing and relying on contract brewing for the few remaining properties.
Player Stats: Puget Sound Porter pours a very dark brown with a creamy head that sticks around. Big dark roasted malt aroma is decadent. Taste is smooth chocolate malts, coffee and just a hint of dark fruit. Not complex, just a well-made, straightforward porter that’s a winning combination, at least according to the vote totals two years ago in the Tournament of Beer: Northwest Porters.
ABV: 5.4, IBU: 40
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “Since Puget Sound Porter is hard to find, if around at all, and Firestone Walker DBA is a classic, we’re guessing DBA will WIN.”
SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
GAME 3, 2000s
Player: Sticky Hands, sixth seed
Team: Block 15 Brewing
Location: 3415 SW Deschutes St., Corvallis, Oregon
Wonder Years: 2008, heads were shaved, breakdowns were had and we wore unnecessary vests. We sank our teeth into the tale of Bella and her hot teen vampire boyfriend, the 100-year-old Edward, because LOL. Lovers Queen Bey and Jay ran off to get hitched without asking. Down in Corvallis, beer lovers Nick and Kristen Arzner gathered their years of traveling, brewing, cooking, and dreaming experiences in a brew kettle and launched Block 15 Brewing making unique, from-the-source artisan beer with strict guidelines. Yes, Sticky Hands wasn’t Block 15’s first beer, but the beer is so ridiculously popular that even after the brewery expanded tenfold and started canning the stuff into tallboys, bottle shops and beer bars still can’t keep the double IPA in stock.
Player Stats: Sticky Hands double IPA is a “Hop Experience Ale” featuring ample additions of sticky, resinous, lupulin-packed hop buds grown in the Pacific Northwest. Sticky Hands begins with an aromatic blast of tropical fruits, citrus and dank herb; transitions into luscious hop flavor; and ends with a balanced bitter finish, gently propped up by pale malted barley and fermented with Block 15’s privately banked Brewers yeast.
Player: Country Boy IPA, eleventh seed
Team: Everybody’s Brewing
Location: 177 E. Jewett Blvd., White Salmon, Washington
Wonder Years: 2009, Sully saves a plane full of passengers when he glides his disabled aircraft into the Hudson River; a real-life pirate saga unfolds in the seas off Somalia; Tiger Woods drives into a fire hydrant and a tree; Star Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps hits the pipe; and Doug and Christine Ellenberger turn their pub in historic downtown White Salmon, Washington, into Everybody’s Brewing. Their love for each other, the great outdoors, and craft beer fueled a successful business and community hub.
Player Stats: Country Boy IPA is a classic-styled IPA, brewed with Columbus, Chinook and Cascade hops. The body is pretty dry, with just enough sweetness to make it very drinkable. The hops give a nice bitter flavor, and clean citrus character — more on the lemon and yellow grapefruit side.
ABV: 6.2%, IBU: 80
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “All hands on deck!”
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GAME 4, 2000s
Player: Trickster IPA, third seed
Team: Black Raven Brewing
Location: 14679 NE 95th St., Redmond, Washington
Wonder Years: 2009, we couldn’t find reviews of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer because the print edition ceased operation a month earlier. We shed a tear. “Boom Boom Pow,” indeed, Black Eyed Peas. Over in Redmond, Beaux Bowman launched Black Raven Brewing with the flagship IPA, Trickster, named after the hidden 6.9% ABV.
Player Stats: Trickster is a well-balanced IPA with a deep chewy malt character obtained from copious amounts of ESB, Munich and Crystal combined with a blast of Chinook, Magnum, Simcoe, Amarillo and Cascade hops. Basically, Black Raven brewed a craft beer that has an elevated grain bill and an elevated hop bill, executed perfectly so you have an elevated beer. This third seed IPA brings light fruit, citrus and piney hop aroma with a full hop flavor to the game.
ABV: 6.9%, IBU: 70
Player: Apocalypse IPA, fourteenth seed
Team: 10 Barrel Brewing
Location: 62950 NE 18th St, Bend, Oregon
Wonder Years: 2006, Tacoma was named one of the “most walkable” cities in the country so we walked to catch The Departed on the big screen with “SexyBack,” “Chasing Cars,” and “Crazy” in our ears. Down in Bend, twin brothers Jeremy and Chris Cox open Wildfire Brewing, which morphs into 10 Barrel Brewing in 2008 right when “I Kissed A Girl.” In January 2011, 10 Barrel hired Jimmy Seifrit, the brewmaster of the largest brewery in Bend and the largest independent brewery in the state — Deschutes Brewery. With Seifrit’s help, the 10 Barrel team expanded to a much larger 50 barrel brewhouse and hired brewer all-star Tonya Cornett of Bend Brewing to take over the smaller 10 barrel brewhouse for special releases and product development.
Player Stats: West Coast style IPA Apocalypse is 10 Barrel’s flagship beer. Fruity and citrusy hop aroma shines, with hints of pine resin. The four-hop flavor dominates, re-enforcing the aroma with more citrus, fruity and piney notes. The malt character is clean and smooth with a unique toasted flavor, all held together by a firm bitterness. Apocalypse has a medium-bodied mouth feel, finishing crisp and dry.
ABV: 6.8%, IBU: 70
Tournament of Beer Analysts: “This a tough one to predict. Trickster is a delicious IPA, but 10 Barrel has a marketing machine. Friendships might end over this game.”
VOTE BELOW >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
FRIDAY, APRIL 10 TOURNAMENT OF BEER: WEST COAST FLAGSHIPS ACTION
Game 1, 1980s: 7. Boont Amber Ale, Anderson Valley Brewing (17700 Boonville Road, Boonville, California) vs. 10. Anchor Steam, Anchor Brewing (1705 Mariposa St., San Francisco, California)
Game 2, 1980s: 2. Black Butte Porter, Deschutes Brewery (1044 NW Bond St., Bend, Oregon) vs. 15. Best Coast IPA, Drake’s Brewing (1933 Davis St., San Leandro, California)
Game 3, 2010s: 5. India Pale Ale, Breakside Brewery (1570 NW 22nd Ave., Portland, Oregon) vs. 12. Czech Pils, Wayfinder Beer (304 SE 2nd Ave., Portland, Oregon)
Game 4, 2010s: 4. Topcutter IPA, Bale Breaker Brewing (1801 Birchfield Road, Yakima, Washington) vs. 13. My Dog Scout Stout, Top Rung Brewing (8343 Hogum Bay Lane NE, Lacey, Washington)