Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Try This Week: Northbank Farmhouse Pale Ale

As part of North Bank Beer Week, brewers from southwest Washington collaborated on this beer. I had my first at Ghost Runners Brewery but you can find it in multiple locations.

While I loved it, it's not for everyone. (My IPA-drinking friend didn't like it at all.) I'm new to farmhouse ales myself but am enjoying getting to know the style. If you're curious about it, too, this is a good place to start.

It's described on UnTappd as ". . . fermented on red wine barrel staves from Maryhill Winery. It's also dry hopped. You'll find it light and effervescent with notes of oak, grapes, tropical fruit and clove."

BrewDad described it as ". . . a crisp and fruity Farmhouse Pale Ale. This recipe used 100% Skagit Maltto keep to our Washington roots."

While both mention 6.8% ABV, one puts it at 43 IBU and the other puts it at 25. Whichever, it has a slight tartness balanced by fruit and spice while the oak gives it a pleasant smoothness.

Roughly 30 southwest Washington brewers came up with this brew and I think it's pretty darned good. Well done!

Monday, September 10, 2018


As part of North Bank Beer Week (which celebrates breweries of southwest Washington), Trap Door Brewing hosted the Third Annual Brewers Invitational Cornhole Tournament, organized and moderated by Michael Perozzo of Zzoom Media. At stake was a guest tap at Trap Door for a year and the title of "cornholiest."

And, we're off!
With the precision of a well-organized event, and without preamble, breweries began tossing bags promptly at 1 pm. The matchup for Round 1 was as follows:

Ashtown Brewing (defending champion) vs. Shoug Brewing

Backwoods strategy session
Hubby was drafted as a team member for Ghost Runners but released before play began. Jordan, of Backwoods Brewing, seized the opportunity to draft Hubby as a free agent. This proved to be a good trade for Backwoods as they knocked out Ghost Runners in the second round. (Better luck next time, Jeff!)

Besides the prevalence of cornhole play at many of southwest Washington breweries, it was discovered that the most common name in the brewing community is Mike. If you don't know the name of someone involved in the brewing community, just go with Mike and you will have a 50/50 chance of being correct. 

The players were uniformly fashioned in logo gear, truckers hats, and facial hair. (Did I mention this was a brewers tournament?) The exception was the Loowit team who was sponsored by Nike in neon green performance gear, not that it did any good. While they were highly visible, they were knocked out in the second round by Northwest Passage, a relative newcomer to the Vancouver brewing scene.

Ashtown Brewing, defending champ, had an unfair advantage in their secret weapon, Robby, a professional cornhole player sanctioned by the American Cornhole League who brought his own bags in a hard sided carrying case. However, tournament bags were provided and byo equipment was prohibited. Everyone was aware that Ashtown was the team to beat.

Media attention with Michael Perozzo
of ZzoomMedia and Bryan Shull
of Trap Door
Play was competitive in the first round as players enjoyed what was on tap. Although a rule was instituted mid-tournament to require all players hold a beer in their non throwing hand during play, competition was not diminished in subsequent rounds although it became more convivial.

Media coverage did not include ESPN, however media was present and even that did not detract from the players fierce determination to win the coveted trophy. While this event is exclusively for brewers (and their draftees), there were rumors of a tournament next year for craft beer supporters which may include cash prizes for top finishers. This would be a welcome addition to the North Bank Beer Week event schedule.

Equipment failure threatened a delay of game in the second round matchup between Backwoods and Ghost Runners. However, the problem (mostly unnoticed by the crowd) was quickly resolved and play resumed with Backwoods edging out Ghost Runners.

In the end it all came down to Ashtown, defending their title, and Trap Door, the host brewer, in the final round. The matchup was intense and only hardcore fans remained. As many predicted, Ashtown prevailed and retained the trophy for another year. In addition, they will remain as a guest tap at Trap Door for another year.

Many thanks to Zzoom Media for organizing North Bank Beer Week and to Trap Door Brewing for hosting the Third Annual Brewers Invitational Cornhole Tournament. It was a great event and there is no doubt it will continue to grow in subsequent years. People around here like their craft beer and appreciate the opportunity to show their support for their local brewers. Be it a brew fest or a beer week, beer fans will continue to be there.
Coveted trophy (not actual size)

L to R: Second Place Trap Door, First Place Ashtown,
and a representative from Glacier Tank with prizes.