This year, the commission’s SW Washington beer region (more colloquially known as the Northbank due to it’s geographic position along the north bank of the Columbia River) performed well above its weight class. The region that stretches east-west from the Longview Peninsula to Goldendale and north-south from Centralia to the shores of the Columbia is home to 39 actively licensed breweries, according to the WA Beer Commission.
One by one, the medals were announced for 79 categories of beer styles. One by one, the brewers celebrated by stepping up to the stage to claim their prestigious awards and decorative medals. The parade of Northbank brewers to the stage was led by Camas’ Grains of Wrath and Vancouver’s Trap Door Brewing.
In 2018, Grains of Wrath was awarded Very Small Brewery of the Year after receiving 5 awards. The not-so-very-small honor was a first for the WA Beer Awards and was awarded just a couple months after GOW opened their doors. This year, Grains of Wrath repeated the performance with 5 awards including 4 golds and a bronze. This total score was bested only by Lucky Envelope Brewing of Seattle, who took home 7 golds and a silver and captured Mid-size Brewery of the Year. GOW’s gold medals were awarded to Vienna Lager, Hefeweizen, Papermaker Pale and Dystopia IPA (incorrectly reported by the WA Beer Commission and elsewhere as Overkill IPA, according to head brewer and co-owner Mike Hunsaker). Dystopia IPA was reported by emcees of the event to have been part of a 4 hour deliberation at the judges’ table in the category of American-style IPA which received 109 entrees. (Notably, Battle Ground’s Barrel Mountain Brewing took silver in American-style IPAs giving SW Washington the top two spots in the most-entered category.) Needless to say, coming out on top in the IPA category at any major competition is an outstanding feat.
Trap Door Brewing captured the top two honors in the category with the second-most entries – Juicy & Hazy IPA. Their Mosaic-hopped TANG IPA took Silver while the brewery’s flagship IPA, Glowed Up, captured top honors in the incredibly competitive grouping. Trap Door joined North Jetty Brewing and Chuckanut Brewery as the only 3 breweries to receive multiple awards together inside a single category. Before he had finished sharing high-fives with other Northbank brewers, Trap Door’s head brewer and co-owner Zane Singleton heard his brewery’s name called again. This time it was a gold medal for Popular Culture in the Imperial Juicy & Hazy IPA category – the same category in which Trap Door won gold in 2018, for Juicy Vuiton IIPA. The final medal awarded to Trap Door was a bronze for Gift Horse Kviek IPA – another hazy IPA win for Trap Door, this time in the collaboration category with fellow Northbank brewery, Dwinell Country Ales.
North Jetty Brewing has made great leaps for Kolsch-style ales as their Yellow Boots Kolsch and New Kolsch On The Block were awarded silver and bronze medals respectively within the same category. The brewery out of Seaview, WA on the Long Beach Peninsula scored another bronze later in the proceedings for their Leadbetter Red Scottish-style Ale in the Scottish Shilling Ale category. North Jetty also received honorable mention in one of only 2 categories that were deemed noteworthy. In the most competitive category of American-style IPA, North Jetty Bevy’s First Draft IPA – a collab with Final Draft Taphouse’s Couve Brew Bevy women’s group and Vancouver Brewfest – received honorable mention before the crowd.
Brothers Cascadia Brewing couldn’t have all the brothers in Marymoor Park on Saturday. The fast-growing Hazel Dell neighborhood brewery celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary on Saturday and Sunday with an array of events, live music and new beers. Sherman Gore accepted the two awards bestowed upon him, his two partners, and their brewing team. The first announced award was a silver medal for BCB’s flagship The People’s Pilsner – the recipe of which was tweaked in the last year for more Czech malt to achieve a more Bohemian-style with the pilsner. And it did just that, netting the award in the Bohemian-style Pilsner category above perennial pilsner powerhouse, Chuckanut Brewery. The second award came much later in the ceremony once the categories got a little funky fresh. The bronze for Brett Beers went to Brothers Cascadia for Cadenza – a part of their new sheet music-themed lineup of barrel-aged and bottled farmhouse/wild ales called The Chromatic Series.
Dick’s Brewing Company, located in Centralia, WA, is the SW Washington region’s northernmost brewery. They’re also considered by many to be a legacy brewery, having been in operation since 1994. Hearing Dick’s name is something WA Beer Awards attendees are accustomed to. They’ve been awarded at least one medal in all but one year since the awards began. Head brewer David Pendleton, son-in-law of the late Dick Young, was awarded the gold medal for the aptly named Dick’s Golden Ale along with a bronze for Dick’s Grand Cru. Known for a vast array of packaged beers, both award winning ales are available now in 6-pack 12oz bottles, 22oz bottles, crowlers and on draught at their Lewis County brewery taproom and Dick’s NW Sausage & Deli on Old 99 between Centralia and Grand Mound.
Fortside Brewing Company had another ‘Beer Strong’ performance in the group of multi-award winners in SW Washington. The community-focused brewery, named for Vancouver’s iconic national landmark, won silver for their hometown proud Couvelicious Brown Ale in the English Dark Ales category. But even more exceptionally, Port/Bourbon Barrel Aged Kanaka – a barrel-aged saison – won gold for Wood & Barrel Aged Beers in a state known well for juggernaut barrel programs like Fremont Brewing and Holy Mountain.
All in all, it was a great showing for the region as they collectively performed best on a per-brewery and per-entry basis compared to all other regions of the state. Together, the Northbank collected 23 medals and two honorable mentions – up from 19 in 2018 and only 4 in 2017.
Here’s the complete list of awards given to Northbank breweries at the 2019 Washington Beer Awards:
Grains of Wrath Bronze – Luger Pils – German Style Pilsners Gold – Vienna Lager – Vienna Lagers Gold – Hefeweizen – South German-style Hefs Gold – Papermaker Pale – American-style Pale Ales Gold – Dystopia IPA – American-style India Pale Ales
Trap Door Brewing Gold – Glowed Up – Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ales Silver – Mosaic TANG – Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ales Gold – Popular Culture – Juicy or Hazy Imperial or Double IPAs Bronze – Gift Horse – Collaboration Beers (with Dwinell Country Ales)
North Jetty Brewing Bronze – New Kolsch On The Block – German-style Kolsches Silver – Yellow Boots Kolsch – German-style Kolsches Bronze – Leadbetter Red Scottish Ale – Scottish Shilling Ales Honorable Mention – Bevy’s First Draft – American-style India Pale Ales
Michael Perozzo is a life-long resident of Southwest Washington and father of 4. At his day job, he leads a digital marketing and graphic design team supporting food/beverage clients at ZZEPPELIN. Michael helped start Brewcouver – the passport to Vancouver’s breweries – and co-founded NorthBank Beer Week. He also manages beer buying for the Vancouver Brewfests and helped create Brewing Bridges Collaboration Fest. Portland Trail Blazers fans may remember him as DarthBlazer circa 2008-2012.