Friday, April 7th, 2017

Tournament of Washington IPAs: Round One April 7

Ron Swarner

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Tournament-of-Beer-IPAs-bracket

There are many paths on the road to India Pale Ale greatness, but they all start with the brewer. The brewer begins her or his life sucking from mother’s teat and grazing on applesauce. Soon enough, though, the brewer makes her or his way through school. Some attend a university’s brewing program. Others begin in different surroundings, fed diets of craft beer as interns or assistant brewers. Some brew on a TopTier system in a garage, striving to win a pro-am competition, brew on a professional system, receive accolades then open a Washington Beer Commission recognized brewery.

No matter where they start, however, most brewers add an India Pale Ale to her or his arsenal. After all, the IPA has a 22 percent share of the craft beer market, placing it just ahead of seasonals as the most popular craft beer style in the country. But, it takes a skilled brewer’s hand to turn water, grains, hops and yeast into the mouthwatering creation that inspire people to line up outside doors. The choice of grains, the ratio of hops and, perhaps above even all of that, the water table sets one IPA apart from another.

Over the next three weeks, Peaks and Pints pits 64 of Washington state’s best in a head-to-head battle of the IPAs. This is a tournament, folks, not a playoff. Each match is do or die — one misstep and you’re out of the dance. Added too much Caramel malt, missed your clean high-alpha bitter hop addition mark, and you can pack your brewer’s paddle and go home.

We speak, of course, of the Tournament of Beer: Washington State IPAs. Sixty-four IPAs were selected and seeded by the public throughout March, and now the time has come to see what IPA reigns supreme.

Only one can be crowned king — so vote on this website daily. The top 64 vote getters — the cream of the hops — will compete Monday through Friday right here, April 7-29. Through online voting, IPA drinkers will pick daily winners until the best IPA in Washington state is crowned. It’s just like March Madness, only with way more alpha acids.

Use the bracket below to guide you through the daily match-ups or pick one up at Peaks and Pints in Tacoma’s Proctor District.

The IBU-to-IBU battle of Washington IPAs grand champion will be announced at the Tournament of Beer Party, April 29, at Peaks and Pints, 3816 N. 26th St., in Tacoma’s Proctor District. The final two IPAs will battle live pouring from our Western red cedar tap log with the champion brewery receiving a permanent handle at Peaks and Pints through the spring and summer 2017.

OK, let’s do a quick liver size check, and dive into today’s First Round IPA battles. The voting module is below the IPA descriptions. Vote for one IPA per game. Voting for today’s IPA battles ends at 11:45 p.m. today.

Friday, April 7, First Round Washington IPA Games

GAME 1, NORTHWEST WASHINGTON REGION

Boundary-Bay-Brewery-Inside-Passage-AlePlayer: Inside Passage Ale (#1 seed)

Team: Boundary Bay Brewery, Bellingham

Player Stats: Tournament of Beers governing body called it. It wasn’t a surprise when the public voted Boundary Bay Brewery’s Inside Passage a number one seed in the Northwest region. The Bellingham brewery has its named carved into many Western Washington University landmarks since the neighboring brewery opened in September of 1995. In addition to college student support, the brewery embraces half a dozen or so local suppliers/farmers to create big, bold Northwest craft beers, including this IPA with a solid citrus backbones, a touch of pineapple and caramel sweetness in the finish. Will the fact that WWU students are still a bit stunned from last week’s spring break affect today voting? The votes will decide.

ABV: 7.5% IBU: 78 Hops: N/A

Cash-Brewing-Interception-IPAPlayer: Interception IPA (#16 seed)

Team: Cash Brewing Company, Silverdale

Player Stats: Cash Brewing knows what it’s like to be an underdog. Its 16th seed doesn’t faze this Silverdale brewpub. Owner Tom Cash had to relocate his popular Tommy C’s sports bar after a building foreclosure. Today, Cash is counting his lucky, er, cash after opening a brewpub in Old Town Silverdale. He was well into his brewpub model before the forced move. And, the Interception IPA proves he is money. This hop-forward Northwest IPA delivers beloved floral and citrus notes without being intercepted by heavy hop bitterness.

ABV: 6% IBU: 80 Hops: N/A

>>> SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

GAME 2, NORTHWEST WASHINGTON REGION

Sound-brewery-Humulo-Nimbus-IIPA-TacomaPlayer: Humulo Nimbus IIPA (#8 seed)

Team: Sound Brewery, Poulsbo

Player Stats: Sound Brewery has been serving Poulsbo since late 2010. It has built a large, loyal following with its Belgian style beers and IPAs. Then, Sound Brewery founder and manager Mark Hood moved his brewing operations down the road to Viking Avenue in the Norwegian crazy town of Poulsbo. Then, he moved his taproom/restaurant to the same Viking Avenue. This can’t be overlooked, people. With Norse gods on their side, Sound Brewery looks Silver City Brewery square in its Haze with a smile. The hammer will fall in the form of their Humulo Nimbus IIPA with an exceptionally complex malt foundation and chewy mouthfeel. Sound will lead off with floral hop notes then pound hard with a tropical thunderstorm of Northwest hops and a sturdy bitterness. Sidenote: Thor crushes this beer.

ABV: 8.5% IBU: 75 Hops: Northwest

Silver-City-Brewery-Tropic-Haze-IPA-TacomaPlayer: Tropic Haze IPA (#9 seed)

Team: Silver City Brewery, Bremerton

Player Stats: Talk about the talk of the town — and by town we mean the whole Northwest. We hear Silver City Brewery’s Tropic Haze discussions in barbershops. We hear Tropic Haze name drops in the locker room. We hear hushed Haze hullabaloo in libraries. The biggest cheers for this delicious hazy IPA are within the Silver City Brewery. This beer spent some time in test tubes. Brewmaster Don “Big Hazy” Spencer opened up the secret experimental hop hope chest, brewed pilot batch after pilot batch, blind-tasted close friends and discovered a secret hop made for hazy IPAs. No, the pineapple juice, mango or orange flavors aren’t additives, it’s the hop behind the curtain. Tropical, indeed.
AVB: 6.4% IBU: 50 Hops: They’d have to kill you first

>>> SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

GAME 3, EASTERN WASHINGTON REGION

Iron-Goat-Brewing-The-Impaler-Imperial-IPA-TacomaPlayer: The Impaler Imperial IPA (#7 seed)

Team: Iron Goat Brewing Co., Spokane

Player Stats: If you spent any time at the early summer Washington Brewers Festival in Redmond you know of Iron Goat Brewing Co. People hit the food trucks before jumping in line, which times perfect as the last bite disappears before you reach for one of the sought-after craft beers from this Spokane brewery. Once located in a hardscrabble neighborhood in Industrial Spokane, the brewery named after the goat sculpture in the city’s Riverfront Park now sits in nicer digs downtown. Yes, festival folks clamor over Iron Goat’s Cap’n Kidd Scotch Ale, Goatnik Russian Imperial Stout and Cherry Chocolate Stout. Well, this isn’t the Tournament of Cherry Chocolate Stout, it’s the Tournament of Washington IPAs and Iron Goat’s first brew, The Impaler Imperial IPA, landed a seventh seed with its easy drinking citrusy aroma and fruit hop flavored 8.5% kicker.

ABV: 8.5% IBU: 72, Hops: Australian Galaxy

Player: Homo Erectus Imperial IPA (#10 seed)

Walking-Man-Brewing-Homo-Erectus-Imperial-IPA-TacomaTeam: Walking Man Brewing, Stevenson

Player Stats: For the uninitiated, Skamania County means terrycloth robes and river views at Skamania Lodge. For those with a little larger liver know Skamania County means Walking Man Brewing, a 17-barrel brewery that once was a chill, below-street-level hangout that has hit Stevenson’s main drag’s sunlight raised on a foundation of trophies. Some would drink the brewery’s Black Cherry Stout every day and call it a good life. Those interested in the Tournament of Beer swear by the Homo Erectus Imperial IPA, one of the more malty double IPAs in Cascadia. Walking Man Homo Erectus will walk hard again iron goat with ample floral hops, sugary malt and orange blossom honey in the aroma. Its real game plan is its flavor — a blend of pine, orange rind and caramel malt along with some ruby red grapefruit and grassy bitterness to float the Goat’s boat, whatever that means.

ABV: 9% IBU: 90 Hops: (this category isn’t working out so far)

>>> SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE …………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

GAME 4, EASTERN WASHINGTON REGION

Old-Schoolhouse-Brewery-Ruud-Awakening-IPAPlayer: Ruud Awakening IPA (#2 seed)

Team: Old Schoolhouse Brewery, Winthrop

Player Stats: Casey and Laura Ruud purchased the floundering Winthrop brewery in 2008, changed the name to Old Schoolhouse Brewery, cleaned it up, and quickly turned it into an award-winning gem of a brewpub. Nate and Jake Young, and their buddy Troy Anderson — longtime fans of the brewery — bought it last year with the intent of keeping it awesome. Yes, Old Schoolhouse Brewery is in Winthrop, which sits east of Mazama and north of twist in Okanogan County. We couldn’t ignore its IPA vote count, landing it a second seed in the tournament. Ruud Awakening IPA, named after the brewery’s previous owners, beautifully balances fruity bitterness with malty sweetness. It tastes malty, hoppy, fruity and piney. On paper, Old Schoolhouse Brewery has the more talented IPA than its competition today (multiple award-winner), but as we all know the Tournament of Beers isn’t played on paper (it’s played with mouse clicks).

ABV: 8% IBU: 75 Hops: Warrior, Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo

Icicle-Brewing-Company-Bootjack-IPAPlayer: Bootjack IPA (#15 seed)

Team: Icicle Brewing Company, Leavenworth

Player Stats: Icicle Brewing Co. has several factors in their favor. First, the brewery sits in the Bavarian theme park known as Leavenworth, which seems perhaps the most appropriate place for a brewery. Second, they draw their water from nearby Icicle Creek, a run-off from surrounded by numerous mountain ranges including the Stuart Range and Wenatchee Mountains. Owner Oliver Brulotte has deep family roots in Washington’s hop farming history. Last, their Bootjack IPA is refreshing. It’s hop forward with some biscuit malt notes and a resinous linger. This isn’t a pine bomb; instead you get smooth citrus and lots of fruit.

ABV: 6.5% IBU: 64 Hops: Yakima Valley

>>> VOTE BELOW …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Be sure to click blue DONE button after selecting your favorite IPAs!

Monday, April 10 Tournament of Washington IPAs action …

Game 1: Prairie Line IPA, Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. (610 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Crazy Bitch IIPA, Northwest Brewing Company (1091 Valentine Ave. SE, Pacific)

Game 2: Little Juice IPA (Smoothie Edition), Three Magnets Brewing Co. (600 Franklin St. SE, Olympia) vs. Giant Pacific Octopus IPA, Narrows Brewing Co. (9007 S. 19th St., Tacoma)

Game 3: Space Dust, Elysian Brewing Co. (1221 E. Pike St., Seattle) vs. Citra IPA, Stoup Brewing (1108 NW 52nd St., Seattle)

Game 4: Alternative Facts IPA, Cloudburst Brewing (2116 Western Ave., Seattle) vs. Jumbo Juice, Airways Brewing Co. (8611 S. 212th St., Kent)

LINK: Hot Damn! Yes, I want to follow Peaks and Pints on Twitter

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