Arthur the ‘Hop King’.

Tomme Arthur of Port Brewing Co., San Marcos, Calif. was crowned “Alpha King” last Friday at Falling Rock Tap House in Denver for the second time in five years. Arthur’s Hop 15 Double IPA took first place in the 2008 Alpha King Challenge. He is only the second brewer in the competition’s ten-year history to wear the crown twice. (Brendan Moylan of Moylan’s Brewing won back-to-back Alpha King Challenges in 2001 & 2002 for his Moylander’s Double IPA.)

Second place went to another previous winner, Ed Bennett, and his Boundary Bay Imperial IPA, from Boundary Bay Brewing Co., Bellingham, Wash., who won top honors at the 2006 Alpha King Challenge.

Third place welcomes a new brewer from a new state to Alpha King Challenge’s Top Three: New Mexico’s Jeff Erway, of Chama River Brewing Co., Albuquerque, N.M., for The March Hare India pale ale.

Hopunion’s Ralph Olson presented each of the top three brewers at this year’s Alpha King Challenge with a small cash prize, a gift certificate for yeast from White Labs, plus an engraved, lidded stein for the winner and special glasses for the runners up courtesy of Rastal from Germany. The official Alpha King mascot wearing the big green monster costume joined the festivities, too, thanks to Steve Bernard of Three Floyds Brewing Company.

A total of 70 beers from around the United States competed in this year’s tenth-annual Alpha King Challenge. A team of 18 judges including brewers and beer writers selected the top three beers in a blind tasting. We also want to recognize the other nine beers that made it to the final round. Here are the other nine “Alpha King Finalists” for 2008 (in alphabetical order):

* Alpine Brewing Co., Alpine, Calif., “Exponential Hoppiness” Triple IPA brewed by Patrick McIlhenney;
* Alpine Brewing Co., Alpine, Calif., “O’Brien’s IPA” brewed by Patrick McIlhenney;
* Barley Brown’s Brewing Co., Baker City, Ore., “Tankslapper IPA” brewed by Shawn Kelso;
* Barley Brown’s Brewing Co., Baker City, Ore., “Turmoil” black IPA brewed by Shawn Kelso;
* Bend Brewing Co., Bend, Ore., “Hop Head” IPA brewed by Tonya Cornett;
* Big Rock Chop House, Birmingham, Mich., “Norm’s Raggedy Ass IPA,” brewed by Dan Rogers;
* Hoppin’ Frog Brewing Co., Akron, Ohio, “Mean Manalishi Double IPA” brewed by Fred Karm;
* Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, Ore., “Evelyn Sunshine IPA” brewed by Christian Ettinger;
* Marin Brewing Co., Larkspur, Calif., “White Knuckle Double IPA” brewed by Arne Johnson.

The contest is sponsored by Hopunion LLC, Brewing News, and Three Floyds Brewing Co., and takes its name from Three Floyds’ Alpha King Pale Ale.