Pike Brewing Rises to the Top: Golden Anniversary IPA Chosen for Space Needle’s 50th

It was a gorgeous night as just over a hundred VIPs filed in to the observation deck to participated in a unique event to choose the Space Needle’s 50th Anniversary beer. Special guests, including professionals within the beer community, were invited to taste ten different beers from some of Washington’s most celebrated craft breweries. The beers embodied and highlighted what those ten breweries felt would best present to visitors and Seattle natives alike the quintessential qualities of this important milestone in Seattle’s history.

Guests were tasked with taking part in a one-hour beer tasting, accompanied by a variety of delicious food to intermingle and compliment the beers presented. The beers were then rated and scored based on appearance, innovation, body, aroma, and flavor, with an overall score combining all of these aspects together at the top. Once each participant was able to fill out their score card, votes were tallied and a winner was announced. For most unexpected, Fish Brewing came out on top with their Hibiscus Hefeweizen, Best Body was taken by Boundary Bay’s Pale Ale, Most Innovative was Anacorte’s Brewery‘s Peppercorn Sasion, and Elysian was ranked highest for Best Aroma/Flavor with their Pale Ale. While each of these beers certainly shined in those particular areas, the best overall beer and the beer officially named for the Seattle Space Needle’s 50th Anniversary was Pike Brewing‘s Golden Anniversary Pale Ale.


About the Beers

As could be expected, many of the breweries incorporated ingredients oft found in the most popular and award winning beers being created here in the Pacific Northwest. There was a strong emphasis, of course, on Seattle’s signature beer ingredient: hops. A wide variety of locally grown hops were used in all of the beers showcased. Six of the ten were variations on the pale ale style, each making use of unique flavor profiles and special ingredients within that style that ultimately embodied the brewer’s vision of the perfect 50th Anniversary beer.

Other styles we saw present at the tasting were Anacortes Brewery’s Peppercorn Saison, which was a unique blend of the classic saison style (a lighter — 4.5% ABV — Belgian farmhouse style beer) made with several varieties of fresh cracked peppercorn. 7 Seas Brewing brought in their Reign Man Extra Special Bitters, a full-bodied and full flavored beer, rich in hop and malt favors with a beautiful deep ruby color. Diamond Knot Brewing went with a light, sessionable ale, based on a pre-Prohibition recipe coming out at 13 IBUs and 4.2% ABV. Their decision behind this beer was based on offering something easily palatable by any level of beer-enthusiast visiting from anywhere around the world. And, probably most surprising, was Fish Brewing’s entry — their Hibiscus Hefeweizen. To fit with the theme, “Spirit and Innovation,” they combined the concepts “gold” and “flowers” to create a tangy, lightly sweet hefeweizen that would be drinkable and tasty (though this one was a little too sweet for my liking).


Making the Winning Decision


The most difficult part of my decision when it came down to the voting process was my personal preference (based on what I typically look for in a beer) versus the choice I felt best fit with what this beer was going to represent (ie. something for the average tourist). Amongst my favorite were the 7 Seas ESB, as I felt that beer possessed the most character and interesting flavor profile. Yet, the Boundary Bay Pale Ale embodied all of the flavor, balance, and characteristics I believed would be best received by visitors of Seattle. This beer focused on highlighting rather than overpowering you with the hops flavors, yet was well balanced, light, and extremely drinkable.

However I felt about any of these beers, there was no denying that the ultimate crowd-pleaser and winner of the night was Pike Brewing’s Golden IPA. A lovely, bright, citrusy IPA, this beer compliments a large variety of food (which is not surprising in a beer coming from Pike Brewing) and also brings attention to what Seattle beers are best known for: complex hop flavors. At 6.5% ABV and 58 IBUs, this beer was brewed on Pike’s 20 gallon pilot system and is a Northwest IPA with assertive hop character and floral notes derived from 100% Yakima Valley hops (including Cascade, Columbus, Centennial, and Summit). Balanced out with the use of rich two-row malt, the beer was then dry-hopped with Cascade and Summit hops, giving it tons of aroma and citrus flavor.

Special thanks to Ron Sevart, Mary Bacarella, Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield and the entire Space Needle crew for putting together this wonderful idea and event to ramp up for this momentous event in Seattle history. As most of us here in Seattle know, beer is a significant identifying factor in our city’s history and culture, and the Space Needle is no exception in recognizing this fact. If you’re interested in getting one of the first tastes of the Space Needle Golden Anniversary 2012 Vintage IPA, tomorrow night at Pike Brewing, head brewer Dean Mochizuki will be serving up a sneak preview of the winning beer at Meet the Brewer Night from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the pub. Cheers!

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