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Official beer judgery.

Like Beyoncé and J, Barack and Michelle, creepy, spontaneous Alexa laughter and users' looming sense of unease...collaboration is about teamwork, nuance, and the occasional curveball that keeps you up at night. The latter of course being a good thing, especially when it comes to collaborative beers with offbeat flavors. 

It's this exact excitement around and proliferation of cooperative creation that prompted the Washington Beer Awards, in its sixth year running, to add the Collaboration category to this year's statewide professional brewing competition. (Brewers can register now through March 31.) 

Over 165 breweries compete in a blind tasting, entering more than 120 styles, from Baltic porters to cream stouts, Irish red ales to German pilsners. But to nod to what makes Washington beer particularly unique, WBA wanted to recognize the camaraderie amongst brewers, not only their competitive prowess. "It's one of the nice highlights of a brewer's day," says organizer Mark Emiley. "Half of the time they're just going in, brewing the same recipes, but this is a chance to go play with your friends."

They expect plenty of entries in year one. Seattle has its own Collaboration Beer Festival in South Lake Union after all—the third one is this spring.

Also new this year: another IPA style's been added to lineup. Northeast-style IPA has all the beer geeks duly pumped to be able to brew their version under a proper section instead of being lumped into the Experimental Beer list. 

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