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Four years, four beers

Perry Street Brewing celebrates its fourth anniversary this weekend with the return of a fruity favorite and the release of three new barrel-aged beers.

The Kumquat IPA, which went fast during its debut last year, will be back on tap when the festivities kick off Friday from 4 to 11 p.m.

“It’s shaping up to be really awesome,” owner/brewer Ben Lukes says. “It’s still pretty early in the season, so (the kumquats are) super tart. I think it’s got brighter citrus this year, and the aromatics are great.”

And this year, Lukes brewed two double batches, so it should last a lot longer.

The barrel-aged offerings that will flow when the doors open Saturday at 11:30 a.m. include:

– An imperial stout that’s been aging for four months in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels.

– A Belgian-style tripel which has spent six months in 2013 Robert Karl Cellars cabernet sauvignon barrels.

– And Perry Street’s first-ever Brett beer, a tart saison that’s been in a chardonnay barrel for more than a year with wild Brettanomyces yeast and assorted bacteria.

“It’s like the tart saison with a little bit of the Duchess going on,” says Lukes, referring to the revered Duchess de Bourgogne sour red from Belgium.

Only a sixth-barrel (about five gallons) of each will pour on Saturday, while they last. But look for them to return here and there throughout the coming year.

A special condensed food menu will be served both days, to keep up with the crowds, and there again will be raffles to benefit nearby Grant Elementary School. Grand prizes are a stand-up paddleboard and the perennially popular Golden Growler, which entitles its owner to a free pint and growler fill each week for the following year.

Perry’s third year of operation in 2016 was highlighted by a huge headline: winning a gold medal for its India pale lager at the Great American Beer Festival, the nation’s biggest beer bash.

There was nothing quite so newsworthy this past year, though Perry and Seattle’s Georgetown, which also took GABF gold in 2016 for its Bodhizafa IPA, mashed up their winning recipes to make a BodhizafaLite IPL. “That was a blast,” Lukes says.

The former Big Sky brewer also collaborated with a favorite Missoula brewery, Draught Works, on a spelt IPA brewed with El Dorado hop oil.

And Perry was the local pioneer in the snowballing hazy IPA craze with a yearlong series, experimenting with different hops and other ingredients, that covered 17 generations of the same New England-style yeast.

That’s continued (with a new supply of the yeast) through the more recent Juicy IPA series, still with rotating hop varieties but described as just “mildly opaque” by Lukes .

“We’ve just been kind of playing around with getting it more juicy,” he says. “We’re not so focused on the haze.”

Another collaboration is on the way, this time a hazy one with Portland’s Breakside that’s scheduled to be brewed at Perry in two weeks.

To Lukes, the real highlight of year four was fine-tuning the kitchen operation that launched in year three.

“This year was all about getting the kitchen side really rocking, becoming more of a brewpub as opposed to a taproom,” he says. “The kitchen is where we want it to be, now we just have to figure out what we want to do next.”

While he has talked of eventually adding tanks and bottling beer, there’s a more pressing priority: the pending arrival of Baby Boy Lukes, due May 28 to Ben and his co-owner wife, Christy.

“I’m not committing to anything (else),” he says. “I’m busy building nurseries and stuff like that.”