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Another keeper for River City

River City introduces this year’s Riverkeeper IPA at its monthly First Friday “garage party” in the brewery tomorrow.

The recipe changes each year for the beer, which benefits the Spokane Riverkeeper water protection program. “We have a basic formula for it and rotate in new hops,” says River City brewer Todd Grove.

This year’s version (6.5 percent alcohol, 70 International Bitterness Units) again features eight hop varieties. Cascade, Centennial, Citra and Simcoe return from last year, with four new varieties – Mosaic, Amarillo, Ekuanot and Calypso – used for dry-hopping.

Grove says the biggest differences come from the Calypso, which brings pear, apple and melon fruitiness along with a hint of mint, and Ekuanot, more dank and resiny with green pepper notes.

“One big thing we were trying to do this year was increase the aromatic impact,” he says. “If the beer had a weakness, it was on the aromatic side.”

The specialty light Munich and honey malts also were dialed down a bit to keep it crisp and drinkable. “We try to push the beer to be a little drier to help with that quenching quality,” says Grove.

Both the straight version and a firkin dry-hopped with Cascade will pour for Friday’s event, which runs from 4 to 10 p.m. Other offerings will include a pair of favorites from January’s party – the anniversary Colonel Crusher barleywine and a tweaked version of the initial entry in a rotating Experience Pale series, hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo – plus Girlfriend Golden, Red and Oako Cocoa Stout.

There will be food available for purchase from the 3 Ninjas truck, and live music by Blake Braley.

The new Riverkeeper again will be featured in a Riverwalk promotion in conjunction with Numerica Credit Union.

Starting Monday through March 25, buy a pint or meal at five of 10 participating restaurants near the river –The Blackbird, Borracho Tacos, Central Food, David’s Pizza, Fast Eddie’s, Ripples,  Spencer’s, Steelhead Bar & Grille, Tomato Street and Veraci Pizza – and receive a souvenir pint glass. Numerica will donate $5 to the Spokane Riverkeeper for each one handed out.

Hit all 10, and you’re entered in a drawing for a river rafting trip with ROW Adventure Center. You also can earn a stamp by participating in a river cleanup March 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in People’s Park (bring sturdy walking shoes and gloves).

Riverkeeper IPA and the Red also are the brewery’s first two beers going into 22-ounce bottles. Bottling begins Monday, and negotiations are underway with local chains including Rosauers and Yoke’s.

That’s only the beginning of a busy upcoming schedule. River City also is working on:

– A blended strong beer collaboration with Black Label, based on a doppelbock.

– A special release of the Red infused with Doma coffee for the Get Lit! literary festival in April.

– The return of the seasonal King Fu Death Monkey imperial IPA that same month.

– And a fruity sour collaboration with Waddell’s for Spokane Craft Beer Week in May.

River City closed its downtown taproom at the beginning of the year, but that hasn’t hurt overall business, brewery president Gage Stromberg says.

“Our draft sales are up for the year and people loved the first garage party,” he says. “I think the change to the party format has been energizing for our crew. We’re just enjoying the vibe of pulling out some special beers and the live music.”