The Growing Legend of Fort George Brewery’s Yearly Release, 3-Way IPA

It’s not quite Pliny, but the 3-Way IPA by Fort George Brewery has become something of a legend.

The beer is brewed in Astoria, Oregon, a former cannery town turned hipster retreat where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. It began in 2013, when Fort George combined with Portland breweries Gigantic and Lompoc (hence, the 3-Way name) to create what would be the first edition of the series.

The perennial release is both one of the most anticipated beers in the Northwest and a sure sign that summer is here.

Today, the perennial release is both one of the most anticipated beers in the Northwest and a sure sign that summer is here. It’s released every June, and bottle shops and other retailers scramble to get their paws on the limited-release brew. Because Fort George self-distributes and only covers the Pacific Northwest, it can be difficult to score some.

Adding to the difficulty is the sheer quality of the stuff. It is coveted for a reason. Fort George works with some of the best and most exciting breweries out there in devising recipes for 3-way. Over the years, they’ve collaborated with the esteemed likes of Modern Times, Melvin, Pfriem, Reuben’s, and many more. It’s different every year, both in terms of style and brewing personnel.

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The 2019 version is as solid as they come. Working with Portland’s Ruse and Seattle’s Cloudburst, Fort George devised a beer that strikes a neat balance between the sometimes feuding West Coast and East Coast IPA styles. It is juicy yet piney, fruity yet bitter. Perhaps they should coin the style as a “Midwest IPA.”

Thanks to a pretty can and substantial social media crowds from the various breweries, 3-Way is Instagram candy. Followers are glued to their phones to see when and where the beer will end up and envy creeps in when somebody else beats you to it. It’s clever marketing but more than anything, it’s really good, exceedingly fresh beer.

3-Way IPA is an industry gauge of sorts, advertising what’s currently in fashion within the vast galaxy of the India Pale Ale. Over the years, the pendulum has swung from dank to hazy to brut. All along, 3-Way has been there to let us know what’s popular now and what’s to come.

fort george brewery 3 way ipa cans
Fort George Brewery

Now, it’s practically implied that a brewery will engage in some kind of collaborative beer. It’s a model that’s great for brewers in that ideas and audiences are shared. And it’s great for thirsty consumers because they’re treated to tasty, one-off beers that can be an adventure to obtain.

Stocking up on the beer is a bit like foraging for valuable records. A lot of the best bottle shops get picked over. At the same time, some of the overlooked spots, even bodegas like 7-Elevens, end up with a little-known supply. The most devoted fans go straight to the source, road tripping to the Astoria headquarters where there are few limits as to how many four-packs you can purchase. Half the fun with 3-Way IPA is the journey.

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