I’m almost certain Fritz Maytag didn’t find inspiration to create an English-style pale ale with American hops while hiking Mount Rainier’s Wonderland Trail. The Stanford graduate who founded Anchor Brewing in San Francisco in 1965 probably didn’t have an “ah-ha” moment to bring back almost-forgotten British technique of dry hopping while climbing out of Longmire toward the top of Rampart Ridge.
While we’re Wondering, I doubt Sierra Nevada Brewing Company brewer Ken Grossman drew inspiration to brew a pale ale using whole-cone American hops, including Cascade, while hiking along the banks of Kautz Creek at Mount Rainier. Northern California brewer Vinnie Cilurzo undoubtedly didn’t decide to crank the hops volume up to 11 during a mid-day meal break at Pyramid Creek Camp. Stone Brewing founder Greg Koch, Ballast Point Brewing co-founder Jack White and Green Flash Brewing creators Mike and Lisa Hinkley most likely didn’t push the bitterness envelope as they pushed their way through the Western Rainier Seismic Zone along the Wonderland Trail.
These craft beer pioneers dreamed up stronger American hop centric, juicy, bitter West Coast style IPAs and Pale Ales in other locales than while hiking 93 miles around 14,410-foot Mount Rainier.
Joel VandenBrink did. Well, most likely. Let’s say he did.
The founder of Two Beers Brewing Co. and Seattle Cider Company – currently side by side in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood – hiked the Wonderland Trail solo. He dreamed of above 80 International Bitterness Units while hiking through Mystic Camp at 5,570 feet. He believed he could push an IPA close to the alcohol by volume mark of a double IPA as he trudged along the South Mowich River. He drew inspiration mixing strong citrus flavor hops with hops boasting earthy, pine characteristics while traversing along a ridge to Devil’s Dream Camp.
But, he took his sweet time before busting out a West Coast-style IPA. The hiking enthusiasts first brewed light body, low alcohol sessional ales Trailhead ISA and Day Hike Summer Session Ale, among other outdoors-y named, Two Beers brews, after launching the brewery in 2007.
Still, I secretly hoped for a Two Beers Brewing West Coast-style IPA. Actually, it wasn’t a secret after all. I was shouting it from Mount Rainier’s Sunrise Camp at 6,245 feet, extolling its virtues to anyone who would listen, tossing shiny carabiners of burning hope into karmic wishing wells. Couldn’t help it, really.
And I’m here to say it’s happening.
Two Beers Brewing Company has released their Wonderland Trail IPA, with a South Sound release party at the Parkway Tavern Nov. 2. Pretty cool, huh?
As I mentioned, it will be Two Beers first foray into the West Coast-style, a light bodied, 7.1%, 84 IBU IPA complemented by 2-Row, Vienna and Munich malts while featuring a seamless blend of Washington-grown Amarillo, Citra, Mosaic and Cascade hops. Expect a slightly sweet aroma of tangerine followed by a wave of citrus and passion fruit.
The canned beer, yes cans, will be celebrated in the South Sound during the Parkway Tavern’s Randall night Monday, Nov. 2. Seattle will hit the Wonderland Trail IPA Thursday, Nov. 19 at The Woods, the taproom shared by Two Beers and Seattle Cider Company. Two Beers has partnered with the National Park Service and Washington’s National Park Fund to help promote awareness of the trail by donating $1 from every pint and every six-pack of the Wonderland Trail IPA sold to Wonderland Trail maintenance.
Pack a couple cans of wonderland Trail IPAs in a backpack, head for Mount Rainier, and dream.