Face it, Germany, the Northwest is the world capital of beer, thankyouverymuch. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and offer our thoughts on the best Northwest beers in just about every style out there.
Odin Brewing (Tukwila) A touch malty to start, this dark beer drinks light and finishes with an oak flavor. Originally dubbed their “Ruby Red,” this amber is excellent for anyone who doesn’t prefer hops but still craves nuance.
Fort George (Astoria, Ore.) Every year, Fort George collaborates with two other local breweries to create their 3-Way. In 2015 they collaborated with Georgetown and Pfriem (two of our favorite breweries) and created a floral, bright, delicious IPA that sold out almost immediately.
Black Rye IPA
Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, Calif.) A dark, rich, nuanced beer, Firestone’s Wookie Jack has depth while also being hoppy and even a touch tropical. If you’ve never had one, it’s a must-try.
Pfriem Brewing (Hood River, Ore.) People are trying so many styles of IPAs, including white or blond IPAs. Often these styles can seem frivolous, but Pfriem knocks it out of the park. If you see this beer on tap, get it.
Seattle Cider (Seattle) Their semisweet apple cider is crisp, effervescent, and consistent.
Hale’s (Seattle) Admittedly not our favorite style, but some beer drinkers love the creamy pub ale. Meant for drinking a bunch over an entire day while watching soccer, Hale’s holds the championship belt for best in the style.
Finn River (Chimacum) This dark berry cider is big, round, and tart, which cuts the often oversweetness of the average cider.
India Pale Ale
Breakside (Portland), Boneyard (Bend, Ore.), Bale Breaker (Yakima) It’s a tie! All three of these IPAs are on the lighter, brighter side. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Ever. But if we had to pick one, it’d probably be Bale Breaker.
India Pale Lager
Georgetown (Seattle) Maybe the best beer to come out of Seattle in 2015, the Eddie IPL is hoppy but remains a lighter-bodied beer. It’s as close to perfection as you can get.
India Red Ale
Double Mountain (Hood River, Ore.) While this year’s batch wasn’t quite as good as last year’s (it seemed a bit too malty), we’re still giving props. A hoppy red is just a divine flavor profile, and Double Mountain knows what they’re doing.
India Session Ale
Dru Bru (Snoqualmie Pass) This new brewery up in the mountains produces supremely drinkable beers, and in an era when ISAs are popping up everywhere (session ales are about two-thirds the punch of heavy IPAs), Dru Bru’s is at the top of the list.
Fish Brewing (Olympia) Named best beer in the world by the World Beer Awards, the Beyond the Pale has a touch of pineapple amid its crisp, long-lasting flavor.
Anacortes Brewing (Anacortes) The Pilsner, flavor-wise, is thought of as a simple beer. Because of its understated profile, a pilsner is difficult to make perfect. As a result, these beers so often end up being skunky. Anacortes doesn’t have this problem whatsoever.
Stoup (Seattle) Stoup might be Seattle’s new favorite brewery. They churn out delicious beer, and the smooth, crisp porter is one of their best.
Georgetown (Seattle) A smooth, clean red unencumbered by the heavy malt or syrupy qualities that too often hamper this style. This is a damn near perfect beer.
Boundary Bay (Bellingham) Because Scotch ales aren’t hoppy, brewers often try to beef up the body with malt, which ends up being too demanding on the palate. Boundary Bay rises above this challenge with this deep and rich, almost smoky brew.
Fremont (Seattle) Both the Abominable Winter Ale and Summer Ale are on point. Just depends if you want bourbon barrel-aged bigness or subtle tangerine brightness.
Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, Calif.) This beer isn’t as huge in its sour flavor as many others; instead, the sourness is assimilated into a grapefruit-like pale ale. The result? A perfect flavor balance.
North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, Calif.) Going a little out of the way for this one, but that’s because it’s terrific. The creamy nitro stout is rich, strong, and the perfect beer for a day spent cooped up in a cabin.
Chuckanut (Bellingham) This brewery is expert at crafting lighter-style beers like pilsners and lagers. But rising above these is Chuckanut’s dark wheat beer, which has body, a little malt, and a lot of verve.