The Northwest Brewing News has rolled out its annual Reader’s Choice Poll – its time to vote. The Brewing News is a national brewing publication, severed into seven regional publications. Our good friend Geoff Kaiser writes for the Northwest edition, when he’s not manning the ship at Seattle Beer News.
Every year, the Brewing News holds a poll asking its readers to select the very best in the Northwest. Categories for best brewery, brewpub, bar, beer store, home brew shop and perhaps the most heated category – best bartender – are divided state by state. You may vote on the best Northwest beer for each style, as well.
When going through this poll, we noticed that we hit a few stumbling blocks. How do you pick between Hair of the Dog & Cascade Brewing? Is Uber Tavern a better place to grab a beer than The Dray? What the heck is down in Northern California? Don’t be ashamed to have to Rate Beer yourself a group of candidates, as long as you have actually experienced the pub, brewery or beer you intend to choose. But, if you are stuck – let us recommend a few:
Best Imperial IPA
Even with heavyweights like Russian River, Hopworks, Walking Man and Midnight Sun in the mix, and with Washington rising stars Boundary Bay and Port Townsend making their own cases – there can still be only one choice for us. Black Raven’s Wisdom Seeker licked the competition at Brouwers Hopfest. We have no reservations about this choice.
Best Strong Ale
The Northwest has always somewhat lacked in the big beer categories. But, there is no doubt that one strong ale has dominated the Northwest for many year – Hair of the Dog’s Fred. Alan Sprints has been making this beer for ages. If you have a vintage bottle laying around, you know what makes this complex ale so special. Vote with confidence.
Best Sour Beer
For years, I would probably have said that Russian River had this category killed with Consecration. But after recently tasting Cascade Brewing’s Noyeaux, I have reservations. Noyeaux was recently described in a post by our very own Timperial Stout. Check this one out before you mark down one of Russian River’s excellent choices.
Best NorCal Brewpub
We pushed Russian River out of the competition above, but here they take the cake. Backed by unprecedented selection and incredible beer food – there is no better place to grab a collection of beer and a delicious meal.
Best Washington Brewery
Some would say Boundary Bay has the history and fanfare to deserve this award. Some would say that Black Raven is the young gun that should take the title. We don’t disagree, but lets consider a 3rd choice – Snipes Mountain Brewing? You might think we are crazy but the Sunnyside, Washington brewer has been turning heads. Just about everything that brewer Chris Miller has put out of late, has shocked and awed. Food for thought.
Best Washington Bartender
Wow, we have some great bartenders up here in Seattle. We have a ton of love for Rachel up at Naked City, Natasha at The Dray and certainly Amy, down at Collins Pub. These three wonderful ladies have excellent beer IQs and care about their patrons. This gives them serious consideration.
But, to find someone who can advise, entertain, and take excellent care of you, all without being a giant asshole – priceless. Chris Cavanaugh is that guy. Chris can be found at three, count them, three amazing beer spots in Seattle. Once a fixture at Brouwers Cafe, Chris had to leave to tackle cancer. Once he returned to the bar, Chris grabbed spots at Elysian Brewing (Capitol Hill), The Stumbling Monk, and time behind the bar at Brouwers Cafe. There is one reason that he is at these three places – everyone loves him! Chris will give you great attention, wonderful advice, and excellent entertainment. Not once have we ever heard one person dislike him. Vote for this man.
So take a stab at the poll and let your voice be heard! You can access the poll by following this link. Got any other suggestions for choices, please post them in the comments below.
**Let me take a brief moment to apologize on the delay for our Hopfest in review article. We are working on something epic with two writers. For now, Erik provides a taste of our day.***
Every now and again, I run across a beer that’s so interesting, so tasty and so different than my normal preference, I become mildly obsessed with it, and spend most of my time trying to track it down. At Brouwer’s Hopfest last weekend, I found just such a beer.
Midnight Sun Brewing Co’s XXX Black Double IPA was my favorite beer of the festival. Before you ask, yes, I had a Wisdom Seeker and a Blind Pig and an Ace of Spades, and all the standouts. I even had a few very limited Firkins and a cask beer or two. Those were all exceptional, don’t get me wrong, but the XXX stood out for a couple good reasons.
Having spent most of the morning in a blissful hop-induced delirium, the surprise of XXX’s sweet, almost stouty malt profile was like taking a sip of lemonade on a hot day. The mouthfeel was almost as creamy as a good porter, but it finished strong with a not-to-dry, but fully developed hop bite.
Again, touting the wisdom of our very own Timperial Stout, balance is king. He taught be that over-emphasizing one flavor can lead to an underwhelming experience. I’m going to state my almost assuredly unpopular opinion that Russian River’s Blind Pig is a one-trick-pony. Sure, it’s an impressive trick, but drinking what is essentially hop extract got old after about 8 ounces.
Midnight Sun, however, has crafted a beer with such depth…such complexity, that one schooner wasn’t nearly enough. Unfortunately for me, I have to wait until January when they begin shipping it down to Washington, where it will be exclusively available in 22oz bottles for only a few months.
As you all know, we indulged in and celebrated all that is Humulus lupulus at Brouwer’s Cafe this past weekend. Highlights include Black Raven Wisdom Seeker, Dogfish Head Burton Baton and Skagit River’s Barrel Aged IPA (the only barrel aged beer on the list). We continued our hop adventure at home by cracking Dark Horse’s Imperial IPA. On Sunday, we enjoyed the weather on our roof, while drinking kegs of Lazy Boy Oktoberfest and IPA, finishing the weekend with a present from some friends who just got back from Hawaii, Maui’s Coconut Porter. My god. Although this beer, as well as their IPA, Big Swell and their Hefe are available at Whole Foods, they got a hell of a deal purchasing this beer on the motherland. But now for your week in beer.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Goose Island Invasion: Chesterfield, Missouri
7:00PM-9:00PM @ International Tap House
This tap list is outrageous. Goose Island features: 312, Honkers, their IPA, Harvest Ale, Sofie, Matilda, Pere Jacques, Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Stout VANILLA, Bourbon County Stout COFFEE and Pepe Nero. My god. Get Matilda, all the Bourbon County Stouts and Pere Jacques.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Double Bacon Event: Sherman Oaks, California
5:30PM-9:30PM @ Boneyard Bistro
Sip on Mikkeller Beer Geek Bacon and feast on a special tasting plate composed of about seven bacon themed bites that will compliment the smoky/salty richness of the beer. There will be a set price for the tasting plate and a glass of the beer. Sounds damn good.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
New York State IPA Fest: Peekskill, New York
6:00PM-12:00AM @ Birdshall House
An evening featuring IPAs exclusively from the Empire State. Participating breweries include but are not limited to Brooklyn Brewery, Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., Sixpoint Craft Ales, Southern Tier, Blue Point Brewing Co plus a few surprises.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Boulevard Beer and Food Tasting: Lawrence, Kansas
6:00PM-9:00PM @ Genovese
Cost- $35 bones gets you four courses of delicious foods and Kansas’ very own Boulevard beers!
First course: ZON paired with Wakarusa Valley Mesculan Salad with Grilled Pineapple, Local Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds
Second course: Tank 7 paired wit…h Crostini with Caponata, Sliced Steve’s Meats Beef and Mustard Aioli
Third course: Lunar Ale paired with Bucatini with Lobster, Calabrian Chilies and Toasted Pistachios
Fourth course: Bully! Porter paired with Broken Arrow Ranch Braised Wild Boar in Boulevard Beer with Roasted Squash and Shaved Pecorino
Friday, September 17, 2010
2nd Annual Saisonfest: Emmaus, Pennsylvania
7:00PM-9:00PM @ Tap & Table
What a great idea- a festival dedicated to the under appreciated (by Americans anyway) style of beer- Saisons. This draft list is to die for- check out all of the amazing breweries: *jolly pumpkin es bam, *st. somewhere saison athene, jandrain iv, jandrain v, nuova mattina, blaugies la moneuse, *dupont avec les bons voeux, bruery saison de lente, glazen toren d’erpe mere, *cigar city guava groove, *lost abbey red barn ale, hopfenstark saison de repos, bullfrog fran-tastique, hop ten dormaal blonde, *nogne-o saison, pretty things jack d’or, *saison dupont. Seriously – one of the best events this fall season. So if you have been waiting for an excuse to visit Emmaus, PA- here it is!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Iron Horse WABL Event: Ellensburg, Washington
6:00PM-10:00PM @ Iron Horse Brewery
Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg is inviting WABL members to their Pint and Potato Fest. The event will feature 6 varieties of Irish Eyes, freshly harvested local potatoes with unique dipping sauces, plus 6 Iron Horse beers on tap. Music by Abby Mae and the Homeschool Boys. $9 entry fee includes taters and dips but WABL members will receive $2 off admission. While you are in town make sure to visit Iron Horse’s new micropub in downtown Ellensburg!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Arcadia Brewing Co. Shipwreck Release Party: Grand Rapids, Michigan
7:00PM-2:00AM @ HopCat
This venue always has amazing beer events and this is no exception! Come for the relase of Arcadia Brewing Co.’s Shipwreck Porter. There will be beer specials, best pirate costume prizes and other great things. I mean, beer AND pirates- how could you not go?
As always, if you go to an event, want us to post about an event or just want to speak your mind, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
So, its the end of the Summer. Dammit. If you live in Seattle, you are probably wondering whether it actually ever began. Plagued with bad weather through the warm months, most of us simply keep waiting for it.
But alas, the end of Summer brings positives. Namely – IPA. Typically, brewers start accessing hop crop and can begin dry-hopping their tasty hop bombs. This allows many to hold their hop festivals, serving the best in IPA grog.
Brouwers Cafe Hopfest
We are huge fans of Brouwers Cafe’s Hopfest, which goes down on September 10, 2010 at 11 AM. The festival will showcase some 60 IPAs on tap. It promises to be one of the best attended beer events in Seattle, each year.
Typically, Brouwers rounds up a keg of Pliny the Younger and Firestone Double Jack for the occasion. Lets hope it happens again.
Keep checking out their website for more details. A recent tweet was sent requesting that brewers start sending word to the bar whether or not they will be sending a beer for the festival. We should soon know what will be poured.
Yakima Fresh Hop Festival
The altar of hop might be the annual Fresh Hop Festival in the hop valley that is Yakima, Washington. Producing more than 70% of the hops used in American beer, makes Yakima the source for the freshest hops on the planet.
Each year, the Fresh Hop Festival puts about a dozen brewers to the test of producing a “fresh hop” ale, made with hops plucked from the vine less than 24 hours before they are placed in the kettle. In the past, Laughing Dog Brewing, Snipes Mountain Brewing and Iron Horse Brewing have put out favorites.
This festival is held October 3, 2010 from 5PM – 10PM in the heart of downtown Yakima. You can typically grab a hotel within blocks of the event for about $100.00, but you want to grab that soon. They book quickly.
Parkway Tavern’s IPA Festival
Finally, the Parkways Tavern IPA Fest is already taking shape. The event will be held at Parkway’s excellent pub in the historic area of Tacoma, on September 28-29.
Parkway sent out a preliminary list of beers today, which includes the following:
(some impressive choices are bolded)
- Anderson Valley Anniversary Imperial
- Avery Maharaja Imperial
- Bear Republic Racer 5
- Beer Valley Leafer Madness Double
- Big Time Bhagwan’s Best
- Big Time Scarlett Fire
- Black Raven Trickster
- Boulder Mojo
- Boundary Bay Imperial
- Diamond Knot
- Dick’s Imperial
- Dogfish Head 90 Minute
- Elysian Idiot Sauvin
- Everybody’s Brewing Goodwill
- Firestone Walker Union Jack
- Fremont Interurban
- Full Sail Spotless
- Georgetown Lucille Cask
- Great Divide Titan
- Green Flash West Coast
- Harmon Single Hop
- Hopwork’s Organic
- Hale’s Over the Hop
- Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
- Laughing Dog Devil Dog Imperial
- Laurelwood Workhorse
- Left Hand 400lb Monkey
- Maritime Pacific Double Dry Hopped Imperial
- Midnight Sun Meltdown Double
- New Belgium Ranger
- Ninkasi Dry Hopped Tricerahops
- Northern Lights
- Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial
- Pike Double IPA
- Port Brewing Mongo
- Port Townsend Imperial (rarely seen)
- Schooner Exact Virgil Imperial Cask
- Scuttlebutt Hoptopia Double
- Southern Tier Randall
- Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial
- Stone Double Dry Hopped
- Two Beers Peach-Infused Summer Hop
- Victory Hop Wallop Randall
- Walking Man Homo Erectus
- Widmer Deadlift Imperial
Hope to see you all out for same IPA sipping this summer! Let us know if there are any other events coming up that bear mention here at Beer Blotter!