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Stubby chasers

About to enter its 12th year of operation, MickDuff’s is looking to sell itself short in 2017.

The Sandpoint brewery’s top priority for the coming year is to begin bottling its beers – in 11.2-ounce “stubbies” (think old-school Oly, or Full Sail’s Session line).

“We wanted a unique package, something that would stand out on the shelf,” says Mack Deibel, MickDuff’s marketing manager and assistant brewer.

You can get a look at the 1958-vintage bottling line and the rest of the brewery during an open house Saturday from 5 to 7, part of the 11th anniversary celebration at the Beer Hall.

There also will be country music by local favorite Devon Wade starting at 6:30, and food from the Edelwagen truck.

And some special beers will be pouring including the return of Shillelagh, the brewery’s original American-style IPA that was first released in 2009 (and has made brief appearances since). It’s brewed with organic malts and all Amarillo hops.

Amarillos are more popular these days and therefore harder to come by, not to mention more expensive. “We’re pretty lucky that we got our hands on some,” Deibel says.

Shillelagh is the second in a new series of rotating IPAs to be released every two or three months, following the recent Galaxy Juice.

Its original version also was the basis for what became the brewery’s imperial IPA, Noho. That will be one of the first two beers bottled, along with the blonde.

Plans call for those to be joined next year by two of the other three beers MickDuff’s distributes in North Idaho and Eastern Washington: Lake Paddler pale, Irish Redhead and Knot Tree porter.

The first bottles should reach the market by summer, Deibel says. ”We have everything we need to operate the bottling line,” he says. “It’s just a matter of getting the nuts and bolts tightened up and firing it up.”

And, of course, doing some test batches before going public. “We want to make sure we’re putting out a good product when we do fire it up,” Deibel adds.

MickDuff’s annual production topped 1,000 barrels for the first time last year, he says, a 30 percent increase over the previous year. And if the bottles catch on, he says, “I could see that number jumping dramatically.”