New Breweries Shine at Washington Cask Beer Festival

March 29th, 2010 · 13 Comments · Events, Washington Breweries

This was just after the doors opened. If you look closely, you can see that the line for Black Raven extends out of the photo.

Cheers to all of the Washington breweries that poured beer at the 2010 Washington Cask Beer Festival this past weekend. For fans of cask beer, this has always been an annual highlight, and this year’s festival was no exception. The winners are listed below, as well as some of my general thoughts from the second session. You can see my full set of photos on Flickr

People’s Choice Awards:
Session 1
1st Place: Black Raven Wisdom Seeker Double IPA
2nd Place: Black Raven Jerked Strong Scotch Ale Brown Spiced Porter
3rd Place: Silver City WTF (Wild, Tart, Fat)

Session 2
1st Place: Fremont Brewing Totonac Bbomb Barrel-Aged Strong Ale
2nd Place: Black Raven Wisdom Seeker Double IPA
3rd Place: Big Al Sourlicious 

  • The buzz around Black Raven was amazing. While most attendees were still waiting in line to get in, their booth already had a line that stretched to the booths along  the wall about 100 feet away from them. Their Wisdom Seeker and Jerked Brown must have been some of the first beers to kick. Thankfully, they rationed what they brought and had plenty left for those attending the second session. Those of us that attended the second session appreciate you planning ahead (some breweries did not…).
  • About halfway through the session, the buzz (and long line) seemed to switch over to Fremont, which was actually located at the booth right next to Black Raven. Their 1st place winning Bbomb was very deserving of the award, and their 420.2407 Smoked Mango IPA was one of the most unique beers I’ve ever tasted. It’s the only smoked beer I have ever tried that did not use any smoked malts at all. They used house-smoked mangoes which they then added to their Interurban IPA. I’m not sure it is a beer I would want a full pint of, but it was much better than I would guess a smoked IPA would taste, and I love the experimentation aspect of it. Cheers to Matt and the rest of his team…things are coming along nicely for them. I need to get over and check out their “Urban Beer Garden” sometime soon.

    Micah from Big Al celebrates their 3rd place win for Sourlicious

  • My favorite beer of the fest was the Big Al Sourlicious. There were not many sour beers being poured at the fest, but this bourbon barrel-aged red ale brewed with Brett and Lacto was more than enough to make me happy. Nice work by Big Al.
  • Did anyone notice that all of the winning breweries are relative young? Fremont and Black Raven haven’t even been around for a full year, and Big Al has maybe been around close to two. Nice to see the new guys really showing what they can do.
  • I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but there were too many IPAs. Yes, IPAs are my favorite style, and there were a lot of great ones that I really enjoyed (Rock Bottom Hop Bomb with Apricot & Peach was a standout). But, a lot of non-IPA styles seemed to run out by the last 90 minutes of the second session and it felt like the large majority of the beers left were IPAs. I can get by with that, but for those that aren’t huge fans of IPAs (my friend Dean included), this was a major bummer.  With so many hop-heads in WA, this is a tough balance.
  • The festival was very well run by WABL. Cheers to everyone involved for putting on another great fest!

Dick Cantwell (Elysian), Bill Jenkins (Big Time), & Kim Jordan (New Belgium) among the crowd at Cask Fest.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Devlin

    Silver City WTF got third at the early session.

  • Kaiser

    Thanks, Devlin. I’ve added that.

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think there was any more of that around for the second session.

  • Patrick

    I agree about the IPAs – it felt like there was less diversity of styles than in prior years, which I was a little disappointed in. It seemed like a pretty standard lineup at many of the tables was IPA + IIPA + ESB. There were very few Belgian styles (2 wits, 2 dubbels – but these ran out early, and no tripels).
    Still a great event, and the WABL beer was impressive. I thought the 2010 Herbert’s was awful though.

  • Dean Ruffner

    I thought the usual hop-heads would have cleared the decks of IPA’s, leaving the stouts and porters for me, but that plan backfired.

    Big Al’s bourbon-barrel sour was a highlight for me as well as the B-Bomb. It tasted like a melted Nestle’s Crunch Bar, soaked in bourbon of course.

  • Brad

    I don’t think Black Raven had the Jerked Porter at the 1st session. I believe their 2nd place winner was a Scotch Ale. Maybe Devlin can confirm that for me, or tell me I’m full of crap. Unfortunately I didn’t get a sample of it. Had a sip of the Wisdom Seeker my wife got right away, then didn’t want to wait in that long line. Wisdom Seeker was outstanding.

  • Kirst Lambert

    I wish we could see a less-is-more approach to brewing. Give me a tasty session beer with a low to moderate alcohol content and lots of flavours, balanced.
    There are just too many over the top, high gravity beers that lack subtlety.
    Sure, I like strong and highly hopped bers from time to time, but I much prefer a balanced beer.
    Remember the original Pike Pale? Brilliant!
    Full Sail Golden Ale? Lovely.
    Even West Seattle Brewing’s Vashon Old Stock Ale was quite good.
    but I digress…

  • Ben

    There was definitely a point in the tasting where I just wanted something clean and straightforward. Somebody’s ESB fit the bill, I forget who. I just found that after 9 or 10 tastings (and I poured out most of every one), my palette was kinda done. Not that the experimentation doesn’t yield awesome results (my favorite was the WABL beer), I definitely had some fantastic alts.

    Oh, speaking of, 20 tastings??? It makes sense considering the ticket price, but damn… I could never have made it that far.

  • Patrick

    > Oh, speaking of, 20 tastings???

    I did 23 tastings no problem. You just need to practice more. : )

  • Mike

    My guess is there were probably a bunch of IPA’s and stronger ales because they can hold in a cask for a longer period of time without spoiling.

    Unfortunately I couldn’t get a ticket to the event, but I brewed an IPA instead.

  • Ben

    >I did 23 tastings no problem. You just need to practice more. : )

    You’ll have to find me at the next one of these, wife and I decided we were done with 20 tastings still to go. At Belgianfest I think I had one left, and that went to lucky random person.

  • Nena

    I personally managed 28 tastes altogether without illness. Just to brag.

    I can attest that WTF was sold out for the second session, and the Jerked Brown during that session was a scotch ale.

  • HJackson

    Live in AZ so missed this, but loved the comments. Any of these going to be bottled and sold locally? Nothing beats a good craft beer!! [Unless it’s 2 craft beers]

  • KSJ

    Caskfest is a good time for brewers to pull out the big weird ones for people who will drink them up. Still, I’m with you Kirst, and I really liked Big Time’s “Lil General” because compared to many of the beers at Caskfest I thought it was simpler on the palette and well-balanced.

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