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Taking the plunge

Mountain Lakes Brewing is preparing to test the commercial waters.

Spokane’s next nanobrewery hopes to open as soon as December downtown at the corner of Riverside and Browne. (Sign up for the mailing list on the brewery website for progress updates).

“We’re just two guys taking their hobby to the next level,” says Dave Basaraba, who’s launching the project with business and brewing partner Tim Hilton.

Both grew up in craft beer strongholds, Basaraba in Portland and Hilton in Boston. Both gained greater appreciation for beer’s ability to bring people together, Basaraba while studying abroad in Europe and Hilton while working in a homebrew store.

“What really attracted us to brewing was the community aspect,” Hilton says.

After each ended up in Spokane, they met and began exploring their shared passion. Homebrewing grew from the garage into a business plan that started taking shape two years ago, leading to a serious search for a location over the past year.

They landed at 201 W. Riverside, a cozy brick-walled, tin-ceilinged spot next to the Lion’s Lair bar that was formerly occupied by Puffin Glass Studios. With state and federal permits in process, they hope to begin renovations next month.

The only thing missing, Basaraba jokes, was a canoe already hanging from the ceiling. “We’ll have to bring our own,” he says.

Outdoor adventure will be the theme for the brewery, which takes its name from a 1920s-era promotional postcard Hilton found that reads, “50 mountain lakes welcome you to Spokane.”

The beer will flow from a combination of three one-barrel systems, providing the flexibility to brew a wide range of styles. Regular offerings on the planned 12 taps will include the likes of an IPA, porter, possibly a golden or wheat beer balanced by something bigger such as a doppelbock or double IPA, fruit and spiced beers and typically a lager.

Brewing equipment will be integrated into the taproom space. “We want people to see where the beer is being brewed and make them part of that process,” says Hilton.

“It’s always cool to go to a brewery and meet the brewers,” he says. “With us, you’re not going to have a choice. We’ll be pouring your beer and washing your dishes.”