Northbank Beer Week, presented by Country Malt Group, kicks off this Friday and runs September 22-30. That means the annual mega collaboration of Washington breweries releases this week.
Last year, SW Washington brewers along the Northbank of the Columbia River gathered for the first collaboration of its kind. 21 breweries were involved in 2016 for a dry-hopped imperial brown ale called Northbank Burly Brown.
This year, they took it to another level…
Beginning at 7AM, Fortside’s brewhouse and taproom was full of collaborating brewers.
On August 29th, the culmination of nearly 2 months of planning came together at Fortside Brewing Company in Vancouver, WA. Fortside hosted an astonishing 25 breweries to brew this year’s Official Beer of Northbank Beer Week – an India Session Ale featuring the first-ever Clark County-grown and Clark County-malted local barley.
The local malted barely is a brand new product of Great Western Malting called Expedition – named for the Lewis & Clark Expedition that made it’s way along the Northbank of the Columbia in 1805. Great Western Malting has operated in Vancouver, WA for decades – producing a lineage of brewers and malt makers in SW Washington. Grains are brought in for malting from around the world. However, they’ve never sourced barley from a farm right in their own backyard until now.
Malt is the backbone of beer. It is beer’s source of sweetness, color, body, mouth feel and much of its flavor. Oh! And most importantly, malt provides the sugars the yeast works with to convert into alcohol. These are the reasons that these 25 Northbank breweries were so excited to get their hands on the first hyper-local malt that was both grown and malted here in SW Washington.
Expedition malt is so new, in fact, that Great Western Malting hand delivered the grains directly to Fortside the morning of this collaboration. This wasn’t a delivery of convenience, but of necessity. The malt only just reached their ideal product quality very early that same morning. “We were very excited to have the new Expedition ready just in time,” shared Great Western Malting’s Sales Manager, Mike Heinrich.
The brew day that followed was a little bit of work and a whole lot of celebration.
Heathen brewers past and present. SW Washington is a tight-knit beer community.
Brewers, brewery owners, beer reps and beer tenders packed into Fortside Brewing Company. They enjoyed donuts and coffee in the morning, pizza for lunch and shared tips of the trade together over beers from Fortside like Orange Whip Hazy IPA, Bet The Farm Saison and Fortitude Breakfast Stout.
The resulting India Session Ale (or ISA or Session IPA) will be juicy, tropical, grapefruit-y and, as Fortside Co-owner Mike Difabio called it, “Gulpable!”
Northbank Expedition IPA, as it was named by a vote among all 25 breweries, is brewed with Galaxy and Mosaic hops in the whirlpool and dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria, Vic Secret and more Galaxy.
The first opportunity to enjoy Northbank Expedition IPA will be at the Northbank Beer Week Kickoff Event on September 22nd starting at 6PM. The event invites all 38 SW Washington breweries, cideries and meaderies to tap a beer at Tap Union Freehouse and The Brickhouse – two neighboring beerhouses in Downtown Vancouver, WA.
Loowit Brewing was one of many breweries to bring their entire team to the collab event.
Northbank Expedition IPA collaboration breweries include:
Fortside Brewing Company
Loowit Brewing Company
Mt. Tabor Brewing
Grains of Wrath Brewing
Beerded Brothers Brewing
54-40 Brewing Company
Backwoods Brewing Company
Trust Brewing Co.
Ghost Runners Brewery
North Jetty Brewing
Brothers Cascadia Brewing
Trap Door Brewing
Barrel Mountain Brewing
Walking Man Brewing
Northwoods Public House/Little Dipper Brewing
Doomsday Brewing Company
Victor-23 Craft Brewery
Hopworks Urban Brewery
The Heavy Metal Brewing Co.
Old Ivy Brewery
About Northbank Beer Week
Northbank Beer Week is a celebration of Southwest Washington Beer. From North Jetty Brewing at the mouth of the Columbia to Everybody’s Brewing upstream in White Salmon. From Loowit Brewing at the Interstate Bridge Crossing to Ashtown Brewing in the shadow of Mount St. Helens. Great beer comes from the Northbank of the Columbia River. Festivities kick off on September 22nd and extend to September 30th with unique, active and informational beer events at your favorite pubs, breweries and taprooms every single day. The calendar of events can be found at NorthbankBeerWeek.com.