Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Tournament of Washington IPAs: Sweet Wort 16 begins

Ron Swarner

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Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. founder Steve Navarro, left, faces off against Top Rung Brewing founders Jason Stoltz, middle, and Casey Sobol in the Tournament of Beer Sweet Wort 16 today.

Tournament of Washington IPAs: Sweet Wort 16 begins: For more than two weeks we presented you with a compelling question: Who makes the best India Pale Ale in Washington state? And you have responded in multitudes. Vacation days have been used. Neighbors have started feuds. People are selling their wine cellars. Craziness!

The competition had been whittled down to the Sweet Wort 16. Yes, 16 Washington state IPAs are poised to make the final push to the Final Four, which will begin Friday.

So, read up on yesterday’s action, and then vote on the first four games of the Sweet Wort 16.

Monday, April 24 Tournament of Washington IPAs Second Round Results …

GAME 1, NORTHWEST WASHINGTON REGION

11. Cedar Dust IPA, Boundary Bay Brewery (1107 Railroad Ave., Bellingham) vs. 14. Goat Boater IPA, Rainy Daze Brewing (650 NW Bovela Lane, Poulsbo)

In the closest game of the day, Rainy Daze Brewing’s Goat Boater IPA ran off 18 consecutive pints to pull out a 10-vote lead with 13:17 left in the game. With five minutes to go, Rainy Daze head brewer Mike Montoney started giving his bench players some time. And still, Rainy Daze held on for the win and a spot in the Sweet Wort 16. Boundary Bay’s Cedar Dust IPA looked like a stunned kid getting off his first roller-coaster ride. Even great IPAs can have a bad day. No doubt Cedar Dust will shake it off. It has to; it’s Bellingham Beer Week and it has many appearances planned.

GAME 2, SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON REGION

12. Moving Day IPA, Wet Coast Brewing Company (6820 Kimball Dr., Gig Harbor) vs. 13. Ace IPA, Wingman Brewers (509 ½ Puyallup Ave., Tacoma)

While you were deciding their Tournament of Beer fate, Gig Harbor’s Wet Coast Brewing brewer/co-owner Bryan Copeland and Tacoma’s Wingman Brewers brewer/co-owner Ken Thoburn met at Peaks and Pints to share life stories, show family photos and talk business. Copeland shared his upcoming bottle program, which will launch with three Wet Coast craft beers, including their Imperial IPA. Thoburn shared stories from his sixth anniversary party this past Saturday, including when an EMT thought 7 minutes in the bathroom was too long so she busted the door open to check on the person’s status. While these two friends chatted mid-day, Moving Day IPA had a 50 vote lead. At about 7 p.m., when Gig Harbor residents were headed to their hot tubs with a growler of Moving Day IPA, Wet Coast Brewing shot forward. At the final buzzer, Moving Day IPA had a 150 point lead and a spot in the Sweet Wort 16.

GAME 3, KING COUNTY REGION

10. Hopruption Double IPA, Sumerian Brewing Co. (11510 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE, Woodinville) vs. 2. Wonderland Trail IPA, Two Beers Brewing Co. (4700 Ohio Ave. S., Seattle)

Maybe it was their name change, from Eruption XX IPA to Hopruption XX IPA. Maybe it was their new canning line. Maybe it was their increased distribution, including handles at Safeco Field. Or, maybe a lot of focus was on Tamara, Sumerian’s new intern from Skagit Valley College Brewing Academy. Whatever the reason, Sumerian didn’t have the razor focus it had in previous Tournament of Beer wins. Two Beers Brewing’s Wonderland Trail ran circles around their Woodinville opponent, holding on to a sizeable lead all day. Some say Two Beers received a huge boost in morale when owner Joel VandenBrink arrived at work wearing the same backpack he wore after completing the Wonderland Trail. Others say its dry hopping with Citra and Mosaic hops is a game changer. Either way, Wonderland Trail nabbed 65 percent of the vote and moves into the Sweet Wort 16.

GAME 4, EASTERN WASHINGTON REGION

1. Topcutter IPA, Bale Breaker Brewing Company (1801 Birchfield Road, Yakima) vs. 9. Double Cutt IIPA, Backwoods Brewing Company (1162 Wind River Hwy., Carson)

There is just something about the Tournament of Beer. Major upsets, Cinderella stories, buzzer-beaters and blowouts. The spread of talent in this Washington state IPA tournament is insanely large, with the top-seeded IPAs often blowing away the bottom-seeded IPAs by 400 or more votes. But sometimes, things don’t always go as planned. Even when an IPA takes a huge lead, whether they’re the favorite or the underdog, it’s just not safe in the tournament. Yesterday, No. 1 seed Bale Breaker Topcutter IPA shot to a huge lead in the early afternoon. It looked as if Backwoods Brewing’s Double Cutt IIPA maybe would cutt its loss and feel good about its No. 9 seeding and previous wins. Those who know Backwoods’ brewers Kevin and Tom Waters, the heart and soul of the Gorge area brewery, know these guys are tough as lumberjacks. Backwoods went on an incredible run. Double Cutts IIPAs doubled, then doubled again. Was the Tournament of Beer going to see its third No. 1 seed fall? Nope. Topcutter IPA had enough IBUs to hold onto the lead and eek out a 54 percent of the vote win. Backwoods’ 500 vote nighttime run will forever be etched into Tournament of Beer lore.

Let’s pitch some yeast. The following are advancing to the Sweet Wort 16:

Goat Boater IPA, Rainy Daze Brewing
Moving Day IPA, Wet Coast Brewing Company
Wonderland Trail IPA, Two Beers Brewing Co.
Topcutter IPA, Bale Breaker Brewing Company

OK, pour a pint and dive into today’s Sweet Wort 16 IPA battles. Vote for one IPA per game, and only once. Voting for today’s IPA battles ends at 11:45 p.m. It’s in your hands, mouth and stomach, folks.

Tuesday, April 25, Sweet Wort 16 Washington IPA Games

GAME 1, NORTHWEST WASHINGTON REGION

9. Tropic Haze, Silver City Brewery (206 Katy Penman, Bremerton) vs. 4. Stackin’ Hay IPA, FarmStrong Brewing Company (110 Stewart Road, Mt. Vernon)

Throwing down from the brewery in Bremerton, hot as boiling wort Tropic Haze tossed on its sunglasses and unleashed a win over Sound Brewery’s Humulo Nimbus, followed by a victory over classic Boundary Bay Inside Passage IPA. Today, Silver City Brewery‘s Tropic Haze meets FarmStrong Brewing’s Stackin’ Hay IPA. Does whiz kid Tropic Haze have what it takes to take on an IPA that big, strong farmhands drink? Stackin’ Hay IPA will pound low, pushing its grass, pine, grapefruit rind and spruce needles notes hard. If Tropic Haze goes nuts, laughs at the weather, adds miniature umbrellas to pints and pushes its tropical fruit flavors, our guess is FarmStrong will push aside its new La Raza Cerveza “Mexican” lager for the day and begin Stackin’ Hay like there’s no tomorrow.

SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

GAME 2, SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON REGION

6. Prairie Line IPA, Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. (610 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. 10. Shift Trade IPA, Top Rung Brewing Company (8343 Hogum Bay Lane N.E, Lacey)

Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. Director of Brewing Operations/co-owner Steve Navarro dropped in on Top Rung Brewing’s “3rd Annual Beerbalation” in celebration of the Lacey brewery’s third anniversary. Top Rung founders Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz asked Navarro to pose with them for a photo. The shot was lined up with Top Rung assistant brewer Tyler Mathis joining the photo op. Just before the camera snapped the three Top Rung chaps moved aside to reveal a row of Shift Trade IPAs. Snap! That is how this match will go down today. These two breweries are close friends (as are basically all of the South Sound breweries) so taunting text messages and social media posts will bounce back and forth all day. Fun, indeed, but you’re not voting on hijinks; you’re voting on the well-balanced, tropical Prairie Line IPA vs. the well-balanced, tropical Shift Trade IPA. Good luck with that!

SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

GAME 3, KING COUNTY REGION

1. Bodhizafa, Georgetown Brewing Co. (5200 Denver Ave. S., Seattle) vs. 12. Citra IPA, Stoup Brewing (1108 NW 52nd St., Seattle)

“Yea … but it’s Brad.” That’s straight from the mouths of many Washington state brewers. Tournament of Beer First Round: “Yea, Elysian Space Dust IPA is über popular … but it’s Brad.” Stoup’s Citra IPA won. Second Round: “Yea, Cloudburst is killing it with different, amazing IPAs every week … but it’s Brad.” Stoup Citra IPA won. Today: “Yea, Georgetown‘s Bodhizafa won a gold medal last year at the Great American Beer Festival … but it’s Brad.” It is indeed Brad, Brad Benson, the head brewer and co-owner of Stoup Brewing — a man with B.S. in Chemistry, more than 20 years professionally brewing and big respect from this state’s brewing community and beyond. This Sweet Wort 16 IPA showdown has a Championship Game feel. Twitter will have a meltdown today.

SCROLL DOWN TO VOTE…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

GAME 4, EASTERN WASHINGTON REGION

3. Bottomcutter IIPA, Bale Breaker Brewing Company (1801 Birchfield Road, Yakima) vs. 15. Bootjack IPA, Icicle Brewing Company (935 Front St, Leavenworth)

The Tournament of Beer puts a spotlight on Washington state IPAs. Fans don’t need to know the details of an IBU defense or the secondary fermentation break to appreciate the intensity of theater of 64 IPAs fighting for survival in a one-and-done tournament. When an underdog goes on a run, the Cinderella story becomes the talk of the state in April. Meet No. 15 seed Bootjack IPA from Icicle Brewing Company in Leavenworth. Of course, an inexact science is applied to the title “Cinderella” that includes the brewery’s seed and the lasting impact of the run on the hearts and minds of IPA voting fans. So quickly, before midnight, let’s see if the slipper fits. Bale Breaker Bottomcutter IIPA is a 8.2 percent, 100 IBU bruiser with what Tournament of Beer statisticians call a “perfect combination of Citra, Simcoe and Equinox hops for subdued pine resin, slight grapefruit and a light, dry finish that’s easy to drink.” Let the story play out.

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

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

Wednesday, April 26 Tournament of Washington IPAs Sweet Wort 16 action …

Game 1: Goat Boater IPA, Rainy Daze Brewing (650 NW Bovela Lane, Poulsbo) vs. Pourhouse IPA, Rainy Daze Brewing (650 NW Bovela Lane, Poulsbo)

Game 2: Lights Out Double IPA, North Jetty Brewing (4200 Pacific Way, Seaview) vs. Moving Day IPA, Wet Coast Brewing Company (6820 Kimball Dr., Gig Harbor)

Game 3: 1. Lush IPA, Fremont Brewing (1050 N. 34th St., Seattle) vs. Wonderland Trail IPA, Two Beers Brewing Co. (4700 Ohio Ave. S., Seattle)

Game 4: 3. Topcutter IPA, Bale Breaker Brewing Company (1801 Birchfield Road, Yakima) vs. Walking Man IPA, Walking Man Brewing (240 First St., Stevenson)

INK: Tournament of Beers: Washington State IPAs explanation

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

LINK: Explore Washington state breweries

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