Last week we told you that it was time for Washington Beer Lovers (WABLs) to speak their minds and choose a brewery to produce the festival ale for the Washington Brewers Festival. The festival ale is a beer made exclusively for us WABL members to drink at the festival. One is made for each of the guild’s four annual festival. It is a spin-off version of a brewery’s regular beer or a one-off creation formulated specifically for the occasion.
We received word yesterday that the votes had been tallied and the people chose Georgetown Brewing to make the festival ale for this spring’s Brewers Festival. It is interesting that WABL members selected Georgetown. Let’s face it, if we were doing free association and I said, “Georgetown Brewing,” you probably would not respond with words like experimental or daring. You’d probably respond with, “Manny’s.” That’s not by accident.
In my opinion, this selection means one of two things:
First, it could mean that the WABL members who voted are not super-savvy beer enthusiasts and equate Manny’s Pale Ale with Washington beer. In other words, the ubiquitous Manny’s Pale Ale is really all they know, or care to know, when it comes to craft beer. It’s human nature: people like what they know. I don’t mean that to be a knock on Georgetown. It’s just the opposite, actually. Manny’s may be omnipresent, but that’s no accident. Without question, it is a darn tasty beer and it’s not surprising that Manny’s is so popular.
Second, selecting Georgetown Brewing to make the festival ale may be WABL’s way of asking them to spread their wings and show us what they’ve got. Yes, we all know and love Manny’s Pale Ale; however, Georgetown’s lesser known beers are darn tasty too. The 9 Lb Porter is one of my favorites and the Super Hop Chop, an extra hoppy version of their Chopper’s Red, is a wicked-good beer. Maybe we WABLs are just asking Roger to flex his brewing muscle, step outside the box, and knock our socks off.
I’d like to think that WABL selecting Georgetown indicates the latter and not the former. WABL membership has really shot up over the last couple years. I would like to believe that it is still about the beer and not just about the bigger glass.
Lisa Miyashita, Marketing Director for the Washington Brewer Guild, was quick to remind us that the selection is not a mandate. It’s more like a nomination. “Like I said, there’s no promise here,” she said via an email sent to the WABL group. “Each brewery is set up differently and it’s not so easy for some breweries to make a one-off beer or a spin-off version of their beer. But we’ll definitely take the result into consideration and we’ll see what kind of cool WABL Beer we can line up for you!”
I have to wonder if she would have made that statement if the people had selected Water Street Brewing, Elliott Bay Brewing, or one of the other breweries who more regularly experiment with new styles and different flavor profiles. In all fairness, Georgetown is not the only brewery that adheres to what seems to be a we do what we do philosophy. Once you’ve found the right recipe, that philosophy is a proven winner. People like what they know.
I hope that Roger and Manny can, and will, take this opportunity to blow our minds.