Firestone Walker Brewing, Marin Brewing, and Rock Bottom Bellevue Take Top Honors at the Washington IPA Challenge

August 22nd, 2009 · 5 Comments · Events, Washington Breweries

Thanks to Russ for taking some pics. Click on the photo to see the rest of his set.

Thanks to Russ for taking some pics. Click on the photo to see the rest of his set.

Thanks to everyone that came out to Beveridge Place Pub for the Washington IPA Challenge! A big thanks to all of the participating breweries and judges, and thanks to Gary at BPP for giving us a venue. It was a great day of IPA drinking, and I’ll look forward to hopefully doing it again next year.

The Washington IPA Challenge was a chance for some of Washington’s breweries, very few of which distribute beer outside of the Northwest, to compete with select well-regarded IPAs from around the country. 16 judges gathered at Beveridge Place Pub for a blind evaluation of 36 IPA and Imperial IPA entries.

In this inaugural year of the Challenge, Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA, from Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles, California, was judged the winning IPA out of 19 entries. Marin White Knuckle Double IPA, from Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur, California, was judged the winning Imperial IPA out of 17 entries. Congratulations to both breweries for winning a competition that was packed with outstanding examples of the styles. For the rest of the field, the saying “Everyone is a winner” truly applied to the IPAs in this competition. As this was a competition with a Washington focus, a big congrats goes out to Big Time Brewing for taking second place in the IPA category with their Scarlet Fire IPA!

Beveridge Place Pub also had 12 Washington IPAs on tap for the occasion, and customers voted for their favorites. The tap handles were blank, with only numbers to order samples by so that there was no bias in the customers’ voting.  Rock Bottom Hop Bomb IPA, from the Rock Bottom in Bellevue, Washington, tallied the most votes (in a serious landslide) to claim the Customer Favorite award from the Challenge. For the Hop Bomb, this award follows up a Gold medal at GABF in 2008 and a Silver medal at GABF in 2007. Cheers to Brian Young for his continued success!

The final results of the Challenge are below. All of the beers were judged individually in the first round and given a score (Based on BJCP rankings) which was then averaged. The top 4 beers from the 1st round then moved on to a Best of Show round where they were evaluated through a discussion with select judges. Those judges determined the winner and the order of the top 4 beers in each category. And, seriously, keep in mind that all of these are great IPAs. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have even been invited to the Challenge.

1 – Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA (CA)
2 – Big Time Scarlet Fire (WA)
3 – Bell’s Two Hearted Ale (MI)
4 – Laurelwood Workhorse IPA (OR)
5 – Stone IPA (CA)
6 – Rock Bottom Bellevue Hop Bomb IPA (WA)
7 – Northern Lights IPA (WA)
8 – Green Flash West Coast IPA (CA)
9 – Snoqualmie Wildcat IPA (WA)
10 – Diamond Knot IPA (WA)
Other participating IPAs (not in order of their finish): Elysian Immortal IPA (WA), Three Floyd’s Alpha King (IN), Pike IPA (WA), Anacortes IPA (WA), Big Al IPA (WA), Cigar City Jai Alai IPA (FL), Silver City Indianola IPA (WA), Victory Hop Devil IPA (PA), Boundary Bay IPA (WA) 

Imperial IPAs:
1 – Marin White Knuckle Double IPA (CA)
2 – Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA (CA)
3 – Hair of the Dog Blue Dot (OR)
4 – Russian River Pliny the Elder (CA)
5 – Diamond Knot Industrial IPA (WA)
6 – Stone Ruination IPA (CA)
7 – Silver City Whoop Pass Double IPA (WA)
8 – Elysian Hubris Imperial IPA (WA)
9 – Three Floyd’s Dreadnaught Imperial IPA (IN)
10 – Port Brewing Hop 15 (CA)
Other participating Imperial IPAs (not in order of their finish): 7 Seas Ballz Deep Double IPA (WA), Boundary Bay Imperial IPA (WA), Victory Hop Wallop (PA), Oskar Blues Gordon (CO), Pike Double IPA (WA), Elliott Bay Hoppus Collosum (WA), Maritime Imperial IPA (WA)

This year’s winners will be invited back to defend their crown in 2010. We will try to mix in as many new breweries for next year as possible, in order to give some other breweries a chance.

All Washington breweries should be proud, regardless of where they finished in the judging or if they were even participating. Craft brewing pioneer and Washington brewer Bert Grant (1928 – 2001) led the charge to revive the India Pale Ale style in this country, and he would be proud to see all of the Washington IPAs that have followed in his footsteps.

Thanks to the Washington Beer Blog, here is a list of the beers that were available for the public tasting, with their corresponding tap # (this is not their order of finish).

1.Boundary Bay IPA
2.Black Raven Trickster IPA
3.Schooner Exact 3-Grid IPA
4.Big Time Scarlett Fire IPA
5.Harmon Pt. Defiance IPA
6.Diamond Knot IPA
7.Rock Bottom Hop Bomb IPA (Customer Favorite winner)
8.Elysian Immortal IPA
9.Walking Man IPA
10.Pike IPA
11.Northern Lights IPA
12.Iron Horse IPA

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Eric Lundquist

    I got to shake Bert Grant’s hand back in the day at one of the Father’s Day Brewfests, I think it was the first year after they moved from the Herbfarm in Fall City to St Edward’s Park.

  • blackhook


    Sorry I missed the event, but I had to catch a ferry on Sat afternoon…sounds like you guys had a blast.

    I’m kinda surprised that Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA came out on top. When I’ve had it around here — Brouwer’s, Hopvine — I thought it was good –> very good — but short of the best I’ve had. Also surprised that Snoqualmie Wildcat finished so far down; it’s always been one of my faves.

    However! …it may be time for a re-eval. I’ve seen Union Jack on tap recently at Quinn’s & Oddfellows on Cap Hill — two pretty cool spots to have a cool one or two.

  • KSJ

    I want to try that winning IPA from Rockbottom. Too bad they won’t distribute across the water to save us westsiders who have the eastside heebey jeebeys.

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