Best brews revealed at Marymoor festival

The first annual Washington Beer Awards, held June 15 at Marymoor Park in Redmond, yielded 81 winners in 29 categories.
   Top honorees included Black Raven Brewing Company with six awards, while Big Al Brewing, Chuckanut Brewery, Old Schoolhouse Brewery, Elysian Brewing, Ice Harbor Brewing, and Icicle Brewing won four apiece.
   If your favorite suds didn’t earn a prize, you’re not alone. A few of my favorites were nowhere to be seen.
   Granted, all winners are determined by the subjective palates of judges, and perhaps some of my favorite brews didn’t even enter. No matter. The event sure looked to be a success, drawing a huge crowd that sampled more than 400 beers from 70 breweries, all located within Washington.
   I’m biased toward rich, malty, unfiltered beers and don’t like bitter brews heavy with hops. That invalidates my opinion with the IPA-loving crowd, which might not favor the beers I thought were conspicuous by their absence among the winners. Some of my missing favorites:

  • Irish Death, from Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg. The only thing better than a 22-ounce bottle of this dark, malty, smooth nectar is Irish Death on tap.
  • Mac & Jack’s African Amber, brewed in Redmond. Reportedly first served at El Toreador restaurant in Redmond, it’s now widely distributed. Popularity hasn’t made it any less tasty.
  • Brookside Beer, a pale lager from Roslyn Brewing Company. I especially like the label, which depicts nearby Lemah Mountain in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area.
  • Outlaw Ale, from Old Schoolhouse Brewery in Winthrop. I can’t find it on their website, so if it’s no longer brewed, how sad! It’s the perfect complement to an Old Schoolhouse Reuben sandwich. (Unless the Reuben has been retired, too.)

   Beer lovers lament the absence this year of the Rails to Ales Brewfest in South Cle Elum, a benefit for the Cascade Rail Foundation. Though popular, the five-year event struggled to break even recently, and the Foundation will focus all of its resources on buying the vintage Milwaukee Road 5057 locomotive for public display. Brewfest may return in 2014.
   Please drink responsibly. And obviously, don’t drink and drive!
   See all the winners of the Washington Beer Awards, and learn more about Rails to Ales and historic engine 5057.

by  Jon Osterberg

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