1,744 votes…seven days…90 total beers receiving votes…seven professionals voting…47 breweries nominated…in the first-ever poll to determine who makes Washington’s Best and/or Favorite IPA.
It was FAR more of a response than I had ever hoped and fully thirty-four of the beers that got votes were write-ins. In fact, this may well have been the “cleanest” poll ever conducted, with only ONE vote disqualified…from some poor soul who failed to read the side of their Goodlife “Descender” IPA bottle to find that it’s made in Bend, Oregon.
I cannot begin to thank you enough, you mildew-y, web-footed Northwest IPA geeks, for participating and making what I firmly believe are the most thoughtful choices I’ve ever seen in a beer poll. Not one single beer that got a vote was a mess or without some merit and that does my cynical old heart good. My special thanks, also, to my six brethren in the Seattle beer trade who cast the Professionals’ Votes. Each of us got to choose ONE beer as Best and each of the selections – along with mine – counted as ten votes. As a a side note, none of the Pro Votes counted in the 1,744 total. That showing, my friends, was all you.
(Just FYI, out of the seven of us, only four breweries received votes: Pike Brewing, Boundary Bay Brewing, Reuben’s Brews, and Bale Breaker Brewing. As to which got multiple Pro Votes, that secret stays with me, as do the identities of the pros, none of whom has anything to gain from showing favoritism to one brewery.)
Again…Thank you, thank you, thank you, my Brothers and Sisters in Beer, for making this a whopping success…
Oh, one last thing: after all those votes and a solid week’s activity, the margin of victory by our winner over the second-place finisher was…ONE VOTE.
So, without further ado, here are the Top Ten IPAs from Washington State, as selected by you, the folks who know them best…
# 10. Elysian Brewing “Avatar” Jasmine IPA…a beer that shows up in my glass as much as any other WA IPA, ever. A totally successful, inspired marriage of killer hops goodness with one of the most imaginative and beautiful infusions ever given to any American ale.
#9. Black Raven Brewing “Wisdom Seeker”…a new Northwest classic, Wisdom covers every hop-driven flavor category with flamboyant presence. Floral, herbal, citrus galore, this is a lively festival of IPA variety that never gets old.
#8. Fremont Brewing “Interurban” IPA…If you’re not a Seattleite, it doesn’t have an especially cool name and it doesn’t resort to tricks or “test of manhood” bitterness. It’s just as Solid an IPA as anybody has ever made in Washington. Bright, crisp, unfailingly consistent, flat-damned delicious, Fremont IPA is the one to drink when you can’t make up your mind because it will NEVER disappoint!
#7. Bale Breaker Brewing “Topcutter”…the newest IPA and brewery on this list, Bale Breaker’s landmark “Topcutter” is a whole fistful of flavors that nobody has ever duplicated in any WA IPA. Light, stunningly refreshing, beautifully bitter, this received one Pro’s votes and richly deserved them. BBBC is the Brewery to Watch in WA for 2014!
#6. Georgetown Brewing “Lucille”…this clean, beautiful basic IPA has ascended to Northwest Classic status faster than any beer since Mac & Jack’s African Amber or Deschutes Mirror Pond. As it should…Lucille is every bit as soulful as B.B. King’s guitar and cuts no corners. It’s bitter enough to please and Hard-Core HopHead but balanced enough for newbies. This remains one of the NW’s best IPAs from, one of its true rock star breweries!
#5. Silver City Brewery “St. Florian”…a beer with social conscience and truly classic flavor, St. Florian honors firefighters everywhere but especially here in WA State and it’s a fitting tribute. This is one of the most finely balanced, outright flavorful, easiest drinkin’ IPAs ever produced in this corner of the US and maybe THE intro IPA for your aspiring Hop Freak buddies. Just gorgeous and wears better than your favorite pair of jeans.
#4. No-Li Brewhouse “Jet Star”…just a year and a half ago, Spokane’s Northern Lights Brewing changed names to No-Li Brewhouse…and that’s not all that changed. Their capacity has expanded, their bottle graphics got a slick, retro upgrade, some names changed…and they started winning medal after medal at beer fests like GABF. Jet Star is just simply a brilliant IPA; a huge, complex, wildly-flavorful Imperial that delivers the hops without forgetting the malt. The balance is superb, the bitterness is assertive without being overbearing…damned near perfect IPA from one our our emerging superstar breweries.
#3. Sound Brewery “Humulo Nimbus”..I would drink this stuff anytime, anywhere, up against almost any IPA you can name…and have, repeatedly. Belgian-style Imperial IPA – who would ever have expected traditional old Washington to so fiercely embrace such a subversive ale; one that Mark Hood and Brad Ginn created by cloaking a Belgian-style Strong Pale ale in a brilliant sheath of resiny hops? This is a truly brilliant, innovative ale that causes outright swooning among first-time drinkers and fierce loyalty among its True Believers.
#2. Reuben’s Brews “Blimey, That’s Bitter!“…a new American Classic ale, this big, swaggering Triple IPA delivers a tsunami of resins and flowers and citrus peels and sweet herbs. The bitterness would make a Packers fan look like a choirboy and the complexity rivals calculus. And, the biggest surprise of all – It’s shockingly drinkable, with a rock-solid malt backbone that shores up the Cathedral of Hops. Brilliant!
And the Winner is…
#1. Valholl Brewing “Brew Bitch”…In attitude, approach, ambition, and, most importantly, in beer terms, Poulsbo’s tough-as-nails Valholl is Washington’s Boneyard. The similarities are everywhere: in the punchy, stark, ballsy graphics, the names of the beers, the intensity and sheer grip, and the breweries themselves, one a converted auto shop and the other a former neighborhood service station. Owners Jeff Holcomb and Jordan Rogers have crafted a no-nonsense beauty in Brew Bitch – lotsa resins, great body, mellow malts, and pure, clean bitterness that rivals Boneyard RPM for sheer muscle, guts, and intensity. A winner any way you look at it!
To Submit a Beverage to The Pour Fool:
Send samples to: Steve Body/The Pour Fool 2887 152nd Avenue NE Redmond, WA 98052
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