Last night I was talking to Jeff Lawrence, owner of the Whistle Stop Ale House in Renton. I first met Jeff back in 2002 when I interviewed him as part of a story I was writing for another publication−an article about cask-conditioned beer. More specifically, the story was about the unexpected increase in popularity of cask-conditioned beer. You see, back then the whole cask beer thing seemed unexpected and a bit remarkable. He was a good person to talk to because the Whistle Stop Ale House was one of the only bars in the Seattle area regularly serving cask-conditioned beer back in those days.
My, How Things have Changed
These days “Cask Night” seems to be a regular event at most of the better beer bars around town. The annual Washington Cask Beer Festival is one of the most popular beer events in the area. And then there’s Cask-O-Rama. Today it seems hard to believe that we ever survived without cask-conditioned beer.
Tomorrow evening at the Beveridge Place Pub (Thursday 6:00 p.m.) the 5th Annual Cask-O-Rama will officially begin. There will be a line, you will need be patient, but it is worth it. The event features 24 casks of Washington-brewed IPAs lined up on the bar. It’s a damned impressive sight to see, if nothing else. Cask-O-Rama continues on into the weekend (Friday and Saturday 6:00-12:00).
If you have never attended Cask-O-Rama, you’re really missing something. You build your own sampler trays, picking which six beers you want to try. You can order pints if you like, but with so many delicious and uncommon beers tempting you, we recommend starting off with at least one sampler tray before moving on to larger vessels (if needed).
The first night of Cask-O-Rama also features the crowning of the Hoptoberfest champion. Throughout the month of October, pub patrons voted for their favorite IPA in an ongoing elimination-style tournament. The competition was recently narrowed to the final three (Boundary Bay IPA, Black Raven Trickster IPA, and Two Beers Evolutionary IPA). The winning beer will be the house IPA at the Beveridge Place for the upcoming year. For the winning brewery, this is a big deal, not just because it is an honor to be deemed the champion but also because it represents a significant standing order for beer.
In case you have not seen it yet, here is our video from last year when Black Raven Trickster IPA ousted four-time champion Boundary Bay IPA.