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Happiness is a warm Badger

Whatever the weather, Daft Badger’s Smoking Hot third anniversary party is determined to live up to its name.

A big bonfire will help keep things cozy for the Coeur d’Alene brewery’s outdoor bash Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., with a large tent to shield partygoers from the elements.

“Standing out in the rain listening to music is no fun,” owner Darrell Dlouhy says.

There will be rock and soul sounds all day by Spokane’s Blake Braley Band from noon to 3:30 and Missoula’s Shakewell from 5:30 to 8. A DJ will spin tunes in between.

Along with the regular food menu inside, Philly-style cheesteaks will be served off the grill outside.

A pair of small-batch beers will pour for the occasion: a barleywine and a new version of the resiny Pine and Dandy IPA that debuted last month. A full 10-barrel batch of that will be brewed next week.

Another newer IPA, Righteous Dude, will be going into 12-ounce cans soon, Dlouhy says. Also introduced in December, it’s become Daft Badger’s second biggest seller behind the easy-drinking Blood Orange IPA.

The Blood Orange has been so broadly popular that it’s taken sales away from cider and wine, Dlouhy says.  “It’s just been phenomenal,” he says. “It’s been a gateway beer for a lot of ladies, and a lot of people who didn’t think they liked IPAs.”

Close to 40 cases of Blood Orange IPA still are available to go in 16-ounce cans. Daft Badger bottles most of its other beers in 22-ounce bombers, almost all of which are sold through the brewery.

While many other area breweries sell beer to outside accounts, Daft Badger is perfectly content operating as a brewpub restaurant without distribution.

“Things are going great,” Dlouhy says. “We couldn’t be happier. We were required to do a (business) plan for the bank (in the beginning), and it’s pretty much gone as we hoped.

“It’s been a good economy and a good time in the craft beer industry. And food is a major player in the whole deal.”

Daft Badger produced around 575 barrels of beer last year, up from some 500 in 2016. It doesn’t plan on doing much more than 600 barrels at most moving forward.

The focus is on quality, not quantity, Dlouhy says. “If anything, we’ve still got to get better,” he says. “We’re not there yet. We make good beer, but we know there are a lot better beers out there.

“We’re not looking to get bigger, just better, hopefully.”