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Breweries soar, sales slip

Catching up with some craft beer news from beyond our region:

• The number of permitted breweries nationally reached an all-time high of 7,190 at the end of 2016, the National Beer Wholesalers Association reports – more than tripling the total of 2,343 six years ago.  It was the third straight year that more than 1,000 permits were issued by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

Washington state ranked second with 424 permitted breweries, behind only California’s 927. Oregon placed seventh with 304, while Montana had 79 and Idaho 67.

Montana has the third-highest number of breweries per 100,000 population, at 7.58, compared to 7.43 for Oregon, 5.82 for Washington and 3.98 for Idaho. The national average is 2.2

Those totals include breweries that are licensed but not operational, including ones that may have recently shut down but not yet been delisted. The number of operating breweries at the end of last November was 5,005, according to the Brewers Association.

• While the number of breweries continues to soar, craft beer sales are starting to slow down. Supermarket sales grew by 6.9 percent last year, the first time that has dipped below double digits since 2005, according to market research firm IRI Worldwide.

Some familiar brands actually saw sales decrease, including Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Widmer Hefeweizen, New Belgium Ranger IPA and Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager and Rebel IPA – the latter of which was down a whopping 23 percent.

In response, parent company Boston Beer this week announced it was revising the Rebel recipe, removing caramel malt to lighten the body and bring out the hops, with a new focus on fruity Mosaic.

New Belgium recently revamped its IPA lineup, including Ranger, with an increased emphasis on Mosaic – which also stars in the brewery’s just-released spring seasonal, Whizbang Hoppy Blonde Ale. The increasingly popular hop also is featured in Alaskan's new spring Husky IPA.        

Your weekly planner

UPDATE SATURDAY 1/21

No-Li has tapped a small-batch Puddle Stomper Caramel Brown Ale. 

 

UPDATES FRIDAY 1/20

Bennidito's Brewpub is pouring a new IPA hopped with CTZ, Simcoe, Mosaic and Citra, and a new Beacon Brown.

– Iron Goat has tapped an imperial saison.

Perry Street is offering $1.50 off pints Saturday to customers who get their ski gear tuned up outside the taproom by Velofix.

– The Woodland Empire Ale Craft tasting originally advertised for today at Pilgrim's has been rescheduled for next Wednesday. 

 

UPDATE THURSDAY 1/19

Waddell's Brewpub has tapped a barrel-aged Imperial Alligator Oatmeal Stout, blended from beer aged Dry Fly bourbon and wheat whiskey barrels and finished with cocoa nibs and French oak staves.

 

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 1/18

– Badass Backyard today releases a big Powder Run IPA (8.2 percent alcohol by volume, 99 International Bitterness Units).

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 1/17

Iron Goat has tapped a subtly spicy small-batch Goatmeal Stout with guajillo and pasilla chili peppers.

– A Ginger/Blueberry IPA will be this week's Wednesday small-batch release at Daft Badger.

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– Iron Goat kicks off its weekly Game Night Slider Night; play their games or bring your own, and get two sliders and a side for $6.

WEDNESDAY

 – Northern Ales in Kettle Falls introduces a pair of new beers: Eocmis pale ale (5.7 percent alcohol by volume, 55 International Bitterness Units) and Moon Ring oatmeal stout (4.3, 27).

– The Palouse-Two Rivers chapter of Beer Choir meets for sipping and singing from 7 to 8 p.m. at Riverport Brewing in Clarkston. 

THURSDAY

– Big Barn hosts a Taco and Thirsty Thursday potluck, with $3 pints; tortillas/refried beans/cheese provided, bring your own other fillings.

SATURDAY

– Daft Badger's second anniversary party from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. includes a special double IPA, bottled beer discounts, a winter merchandise clearance, live music by Kosh from 4 to 7 and a fire pit and heaters on the patio, plus free hot chocolate for kids (park at Lake City Plaza, 3rd and Spruce).

– Chewelah's Quartzite Brewing celebrates its first anniversary from 4 to 8 with $3.50 pints, live music and tacos from the KISS Gourmet truck; admission is $5 (includes souvenir glass).

And as always, keep checking back for more information about everything happening throughout the week.

Wholesale changes

Two of the Inland Northwest’s leading craft beer distributors are joining forces as part of a three-way deal.

Click Wholesale Distributing and Click Distributing East – the latter of which services Eastern Washington and North Idaho – are being sold to Vancouver, Wash.-based Craig Stein Beverage (CSB).

And Stein in turn is partnering with The Odom Corporation, headquartered in Bellevue, to form a joint operation called Northwest Beverages that will cover all of Washington and Idaho. The transaction is scheduled to close March 31.

Click East distributes local breweries including Iron Goat, Paradise Creek, Selkirk Abbey and Twelve String along with such well-known regional players as Boneyard, Chuckanut, Double Mountain, Ecliptic, Fort George, Hale’s, Pelican, pFriem and Pike.

Odom’s Eastern Washington portfolio includes Laughing Dog, MickDuff’s, No-Li, Trickster’s and Wallace Brewing along with a wide range of regional and national brands, as well as the MillerCoors line (like CSB in its market area).   

A common issue in such mergers is whether smaller breweries will benefit from broader distribution networks, or risk receiving less attention as part of larger portfolios.

According to a press release, “The existing Click organizations will continue to operate independently for the foreseeable future. Click will offer its highly successful personnel and best practices to the overall Odom and CSB organizations and vice versa.  This unique combination will make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.”

"We are excited that the strength of Odom and CSB combined with the addition of the Click organizations will create a larger and stronger Northwest distribution network,” Craig Stein is quoted in the release.

Daft turns two

To wrap up its second year in business, Daft Badger is having its first anniversary party.

The Coeur d’Alene brewery didn’t do an actual party after its first year, but it’s making up for that with a full-scale celebration Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. centered around the outdoor patio.

Daft Badger ran into weather issues the last couple of times it tried that. An Oktoberfest was dampened by rain, and last month’s Holiday Market was met with frigid temperatures and six inches of snow.

But Saturday’s forecast is shaping up much better, with only a 20 percent chance of precipitation and highs near 40 degrees. There will be plenty of heaters and a large fire pit to keep things warm.

“We can’t help ourselves. We like the idea of doing stuff outside,” owner Darrell Dlouhy says. “It seems more celebratory.”

Local musician Kosh and his band Rockadelic will provide party tunes from 4 to 7, set up in the brewery’s storage building with the garage door open.

A special small-batch beer will be tapped for the occasion: Herman Myron, an imperial IPA (11.8 percent alcohol by volume, 85 International Bitterness Units) hopped with El Dorado and Simcoe. (The moniker comes from a combination of brewers Keith Bertram and Jake Capaul’s middle names.)

There also will be discounts on bottled beers, $4 per bottle and $45 per case (mixed cases allowed). Six of Daft Badger’s beers currently are in bottles – Final Mile golden ale, Red Letter amber, Summers Envy and Badgers Bounty IPAs, Scotchy Scotch Scotch and Josiah’s Revenge imperial stout – with two more on the way, Hoppypotamus pale and the bourbon version of Josiah’s.

Look for those at Pilgrim’s in Coeur d’Alene and Enoteca in Post Falls in addition to the taproom. “It’s not huge numbers, but it does what we’re looking for – it gets our name out there,” Dlouhy says.

And brewery merchandise including T-shirts, sweatshirts, long-sleeve shirts and winter hats will be on closeout Saturday to make way for a new summery line with a tweaked logo.

Party-goers are asked to park in the nearby Lake City Plaza lot at Third and Spruce to avoid clogging the street.

The festivities cap a second year that saw Daft Badger produce close to 500 barrels of beer, with a 30 percent increase in beer and food sales in the brewpub.

“Some of that was probably our newness,” Dlouhy says. “I do think brewpubs in general are a little more popular than straight restaurants and straight breweries. Beer often tastes a little better with food.”

The pub will continue to be the focus, with only limited outside distribution, he says. That has expanded to Spokane, with accounts including Steady Flow Growler House and The Steel Barrel.

The next big project for 2017 is sponsoring a summer concert series downtown on Sherman Avenue, running for six consecutive Wednesdays beginning July 12. The Step Brothers, featuring former Rare Earth drummer/vocalist Peter Rivera, is booked for the first show.

Dlouhy also continues to explore the idea of a larger-scale holiday marketplace next December. He had originally envisioned that at McEuen Park downtown, though the lack of a power supply for heaters is a concern.

Daft Badger received some solid feedback in 2016. It won best local brewery in the North Idaho Business Journal people’s choice awards, and was named tops in Idaho based on Yelp reviews. It also participated in the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival at Avista Stadium in September, finishing 11th in sales out of 41 breweries.

“I was able to relax around July or August and think, we’re going to be OK,” Dlouhy says. However, he adds: “There’s still a long way to go. We’ve got to keep learning and get better.”

Winter’s circle

Drinkers at The Lantern Tap House's Winter Beer Fest were an especially stout-hearted bunch this year.

Dark, hearty stouts were the winners in people's choice voting all three nights of the fourth annual event:

• Thursday (Idaho/Montana/Colorado/California breweries): Santa's Little Helper imperial stout, Port Brewing, San Marcos, Calif.

• Friday (Oregon): Tough Love bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, Crux Fermentation Project, Bend

• Saturday (Washington): Cherry Chocolate Stout, Iron Goat Brewing, Spokane

Ten beers from each region poured each night in the outdoor festival tent.

Winners in last year's inaugural voting were Epic's Big Bad Baptist imperial stout, Fort George's Magnanimous IPA and Bale Breaker's High Camp imperial rye IPA.

Your weekly roundup

Catching up with more news from the week in local craft beer:

– It’s official: Four-Eyed Guys has received its state and federal brewing licenses. The Spokane-based, distribution-only nanobrewery plans to launch with a pilsner in a few weeks. In the meantime, you can catch its Vienna lager at an event Sunday at Bellwether that also features the release of a collaboration red ale by the two breweries using wild rose hips and pine resin.

– Iron Goat today taps a big Belgian-style dubbel (8.1 percent alcohol by volume), and next week launches a Monday “Game Night Slider Night”: Play games from the taproom collection or bring your own, with weekly specials featuring two sliders and a side for $8.

River City is serving a small-batch Riverkeeper IPA infused with Vessel coffee; the Randall for the weekend is Girlfriend Golden over fresh cantaloupe. 

– New Boundary is pouring a toasty Winter Dopplebock.

– Perry Street has extended its usual all-day Wednesday pint discounts into a happy hour that also runs Thursday through Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. Get $4 pints plus $2 off items on the appetizer menu.  

Nu Home Brew is discontinuing its selection of bottled beer, cider and wine, with 25 percent discounts while supplies last; for a limited time, also receive a gift card to The Steel Barrel taproom with a purchase of two or more bottles. 

Lantern shade of winter

Winter arrived in full force this week. And now, hot – er, cold – on its heels comes The Lantern Tap House’s Winter Beer Fest.

The fourth annual event, Thursday through Saturday in the outside tent, features 10 breweries per day arranged by geography: Idaho/Montana/Colorado California the first day, Oregon the second and wrapping up with Washington. You can vote for your favorite each session (winners announced at 9).

Admission is $15, which includes a commemorative tasting glass and five drink tokens; get a 4-ounce pour for two tokens, 10 ounces for four or a full pint for five (extra tokens $1 each).

There’s live music in the tent on Thursday at 5 by Benny & The Vinyls, and inside the Lantern by GrooveAcre on Friday and The Marshall McLean Band on Saturday (both at 9:30).

Here’s a rundown of the daily lineups:

THURSDAY (4-10 p.m.)

• Anderson Valley: Winter Solstice (6.9 percent alcohol by volume, 6 International Bitterness Units)

• Avery: Out of Bounds Stout (6.3, 51)

• Grand Teton: Coming Home rye barleywine (10, 75)

• Great Northern: Alpenglow Belgian-style tripel (8.5, 35)

• Lagunitas: Brown Shugga (9.8, 51)

• MickDuff’s: Chocolate Moose on the Loose brown ale (6.4, 22)

• New Belgium: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s (6, 12)

• Payette: Payette Forward IPA (6.2, 70)

• Port Brewing: Santa’s Little Helper imperial stout (10.5, 70)

• Trickster’s: Soul Warmer porter (6, 35)

FRIDAY (4-10 p.m.)

• Beer Valley: Ginger Snapper Stout (7, 7)

• Crux: Tough Love bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout (11.5, 70)

• Deschutes: Jubelale (6.7, 65)

• Double Mountain: Fa La La La La (7.5, 85)

• Ecliptic: Filament IPA (7.2, 70)

• Fort George: Magnanimous IPA, brewed with fir tips (7, 70)

• Hopworks Urban Brewing: Abominable (7.3, 70)

• Laurelwood: 2014 bourbon barrel-aged St. Wenceslaus doppelbock (9.3, 45)

• Pelican: Bad Santa black IPA (7.5, 65)

• pFriem: Winter Ale (7.5, 65)

SATURDAY (2-10 p.m.)

• Bale Breaker: High Camp (7.3, 84)

• Black Raven: Festivus, with cranberry, citrus peel and spices (7.1, 48)

• Fremont: 2015 bourbon barrel-aged Kentucky Dark Star imperial oatmeal stout (14.5, 50)

• Georgetown: Tombourbon barrel-aged imperial brown (9.4, NA)

• Iron Goat: Cherry Chocolate Stout (7.8, 25)

• Paradise Creek: Peppermint Porter (6.6, 45)

• River City: 2015 Midnight Marmot imperial stout conditioned on Irish whiskey-soaked oak chips (8.7, 78)

• Schooner Exact: Mountain Boomer (7.5, 52)

• Twelve String: Twelve Strings of Winter (7.5, 65)

• Waddell’s: Mt. Spokane Lost Woods (8, 45)  

Community redevelopment

The former Jones Radiator craft beer bar is getting ready to be reborn as Community Pint.

Local homebrewer TJ Wallin and his wife, Sarah, have bought the building at 120 E. Sprague and plan to reopen it this summer as a taphouse and bottle shop following extensive renovations. Jones Radiator closed last May.

Wallin, an active member of the Inland Brewers Unite (IBU) club, currently operates an automotive machine shop in Newman Lake.

He says in a press release that he’s “a strong believer that sharing beer with friends and strangers alike is a building block for strong communities.”

Wallin won’t serve any of his own beers at Community Pint, which will offer craft beer, cider and wine (no spirits, unlike Jones Radiator).

But you can get a taste of his handiwork at Black Label. The downtown brewery is pouring his Coffee Amber Stout, an IBU contest-winning recipe that Wallin helped brew on their system.

Your weekly planner

UPDATES TUESDAY 1/10

– Slate Creek will tap its first Russian imperial stout for this Wednesday's Slate@7:00, with live music by Dario Ré.

– A Sour Mash IPA is this week's Wednesday small-batch release at Daft Badger.

– The Blackberry Apricot Sour is back on tap at Iron Goat.

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– River CIty has tapped a keg of After Midnight Marmot imperial stout/IPA blend, with $3 pints for Micro Monday.

TUESDAY

Bellwether taps a clove-and-cardamom-accented Dirtier Chai Stout collaboration with the winners of last year's Spokane Craft Beer Week homebrew contest.

WEDNESDAY

– Twelve String releases its latest experimental Crescendo Series IPA, featuring the new Denali hop with its pineapple, citrus and pine notes.

–  A free Pelican tasting at Pilgrim's starting at 3:30 will include the Umbrella, Fuggles Yeah! and Mosaic single-hop IPAs along with Kiwanda Cream and Tsunami Stout.

– Manito Tap House hosts a release party for Fremont's new spring seasonal Lush IPA from 6 to 8, featuring the basic beer and three variations: Citra-infused, Mosaic-infused and cask-conditioned.

– River City is featured in the first of a new monthly series of fried chicken and local craft beer dinners starting at 6 at Yards Bruncheon in Kendall Yards, presented by sister restaurant The Wandering Table. Get the meal and pints of River City Red, Afternoon IPA and VB Stout for $35 (includes tax and tip); for reservations, call (509) 443-4410 or email info@thewanderingtable.com.

THURSDAY

– The Lantern Tap House kicks off its fourth annual Winter Beer Fest from 4 to 10 in the outdoor tent with offerings from Idaho, Montana, Colorado and California brewers, plus music by Benny & The Vinyls at 5. Admission is $15, which includes a tasting glass and five drink tokens; get a 4-ounce pour for two tokens, 10 ounces for four, a full pint for five (extra tokens $1 each).

FRIDAY

– The Lantern Tap House's Winter Beer Fest continues from 4 to 10 in the outdoor tent with offerings from Oregon brewers, plus live music inside by GrooveAcre at 9:30.

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys will be pouring Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout and Lolita raspberry sour.

– Bellwether taps a Mayan Warrior chocolate-chili porter collaboration with the winners of last fall's Blank Slate homebrew contest, brewed with roasted cacao nibs and home-smoked jalapenos.

SATURDAY

– The Lantern Tap House's Winter Beer Fest continues from 2 to 10 in the outdoor tent with offerings from Washington brewers, plus live music inside by the Marshall McLean Band at 9:30.

V Twin is serving $4 pints from 4 to 10 p.m. in honor of owner/brewer Barry Black's birthday.

SUNDAY

Bellwether taps a collaboration with local brewery-in-progress Four-Eyed Guys featuring wild-foraged rose hips and pine resin, along with a Vienna lager from the Four-Eyed crew.

Hills' Restaurant and Lounge hosts its 38th beer dinner starting at 6, this time featuring Deschutes. The menu includes Pacific Wonderland lager with crab cakes, the 2015 and 2016 vintages of Abyss imperial stout with prime rib and Pinot Suave, a Belgian-style ale aged in pinot noir wine barrels, with chocolate/pineapple cake and huckleberry ice cream. Cost is $49 (includes tax and tip); call (509) 747-3946 (reservations close Friday).

And as always, keep checking back for more information about everything happening throughout the week.

Founders, keepers

Having grown up in Michigan, one of my first orders of business during return visits is stopping by the supermarket in my tiny hometown and picking up some Founders Centennial IPA.

It has enough hops to stand on its own as refreshment, and enough malt character to work well with a variety of foods, from perch to pasties.

Now I can find it here, too. Founders beers started rolling out in Spokane this week, along with the rest of the Northwest – part of Michigan brewers’ plot to conquer the world (or at least a bigger piece of it).

“There’s a very large Midwestern population out here that’s been waiting for this,” says Mark Everett, Founders’ local representative. “Everywhere I go I’m running into people who either grew up in Michigan or know someone who did.”

So far, he’s placed beer at locally based supermarkets – Yoke’s and Rosauers/Super 1 – plus specialty shops including Rocket Market, Total Wine and JB’s, which has both bottles and draft for growler fills. More kegs will start showing up at area bars and restaurants.

The easiest to find is All Day IPA, the session offering that accounts for more than half of Founders’ sales. Look for it in stores in six-pack bottles and 15-pack cans.

I’m not generally a fan of session IPAs, which tend to come off as heavy-handed hop juice. All Day is one of the better examples, nicely balanced at 4.7 percent alcohol by volume and 42 International Bitterness Units; there’s enough malt character for a satisfying mouthfeel, though it finishes slightly sharp and watery. (It certainly tastes sublime under the sweltering sun during a Tigers game at Comerica.)    

The significantly larger Centennial (7.2, 65) is easy-drinking for its strength, lightly soft and sweet with the floral, spicy citrus notes of its namesake hop. While it may not win over hard-core West Coast hopheads, it’s a solid option for more moderate palates.

The seasonal Azacca IPA (7, 70) has a similar amber/orange color and substantial maltiness, with tropical, mango and melon aroma and flavor from that newer hop variety.  

Some say Founders truly shines with its darker beers, and the most legendary is headed our way in April: Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS for short), a 12.4 ABV behemoth brewed with flaked oats, coffee and chocolate and aged in bourbon barrels in underground caves.    

In the meantime, you can catch a variety of Founders offerings at tasting events the week of Jan. 23: at Pints Alehouse on Tuesday, the Flying Goat on Wednesday and The Lantern Tap House on Thursday.     

Your weekly roundup

Catching up with more news from the week in local craft beer:

• River City will star in a pair of upcoming beer dinners with interesting wrinkles.

On Wednesday, it will be featured in the first of a monthly series of fried chicken beer dinners at Yards Bruncheon in Kendall Yards, presented by sister restaurant The Wandering Table.

For $35 (includes tax and tip) you get three pints of beer – this time, River City Red, Afternoon IPA and VB Stout – plus the meal. Reservations are required; call (509) 443-4410 or email info@thewanderingtable.com.

Similar dinners are planned with local breweries on the second Wednesday of each month.

And on Jan. 26, a “Mystery Beer Dinner” at The Blackbird will pair anonymous River City beers with a five-course menu, with their identities revealed and discussed once you’ve finished each dish. “We hope this format will encourage diners to dig deep into the flavors of the beer,” the restaurant says.

Only 30 seats are available. Cost is $55, including tax and tip; call (509) 392-4000.

• Following Wednesday’s release of a Coffee Amber Stout homebrew recipe at Black Label, Bellwether next week is tapping two more collaborations with winners of local homebrew contests.

On Tuesday, it’s a Dirtier Chai Stout with clove and cardamom. Next Friday, look for a Chocolate Chipotle Porter with roasted cacao nibs and home-smoked jalapenos.

And the following Sunday, Bellwether will release its latest collaboration with local brewery-in-progress Four-Eyed Guys, brewed with wild rose hips and pine resin.

• More reports from the ever-evolving brewery hours front: Up on Green Bluff, Big Barn is back to winter hours – Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 8 – while nearby 238 is taking the entire month off. And Badass Backyard is opening two hours earlier now on Wednesday and Thursday, at 2 p.m., like it has been on Friday and Saturday.

• Finally, Ninkasi is looking for an Inland Northwest Market Manager to oversee sales in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. Applications are being accepted through Jan. 16 at 5 p.m.

Your weekly planner

UPDATE SATURDAY 1/7

– Pullman's Paradise Creek releases its seasonal, barrel-conditioned Daily Dubbel today at 5 for the Seahawks game.

– Slate Creek has tapped a small-batch Rasta Red, brewed with smoked malt and fresh orange peel and fermented on cinnamon sticks. 

 

UPDATE FRIDAY 1/6

– New Boundary is hosting a Craft Brewed Potluck on Saturday from 5 to 8 during the Seahawks playoff opener; get a grunt fill today for $5 and bring a dish made with the beer.

 

UPDATE THURSDAY 1/5

– No-Li is launching Pacific NW Thursdays, with a new Northwest-inspired pint glass giveaway each month. First up is Seattle's Fremont Troll; get it free from 6 to 8 p.m. with the purchase of the beer of the month, Slacker orange/vanilla pale.

 

UPDATES WEDNESDAY 1/4

– Firestone Walker is January's brewery of the month at Nectar Wine and Beer, with Pivo Pils, Opal dry-hopped saison, Bretta Weisse, DBA (Double Barrel Ale), Easy Jack IPA and Luponic Distortion #4 IPA on tap; get a flight for $10 at the kickoff event Thursday from 6 to 8.

– Iron Goat has brought back the bright Mosaic IPA that originally debuted last summer. 

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 1/3

– Downdraft is pouring a new, unfiltered Northwest Pale Ale.

– Daft Badger's Wednesday small-batch release will be the barrel-aged cream ale.

– Twelve String has a release party for its seasonal High Note Black IPA on Thursday.

 

A look at local craft beer events for the first week of the new year:

MONDAY

– Advance admissions for this year's Winter Beer Fest at The Lantern Tap House, Jan. 12-14, go on sale today; buy before Jan. 10 and receive entry to a private tasting Jan. 11. Cost is $15 for a souvenir glass and five drink tokens (good for one 10-ounce pour.; 4-ounce samples are two tokens, additional tokens are $1 each).  

– Comet Destroyer Fresh Hop IPA is beer of the month at Waddell's, with $4 pints. Growler fills of Lost Woods Winter Ale and Oktoberfest Marzen are $6 while supplies last (discount kegs also available). 

– Selkirk Abbey still is pouring the keg of classic Duchesse de Bourgnone sour red that was tapped for Sunday's New Year brunch. 

TUESDAY

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys launches the first in a quarterly series of bottle swaps from 5 to 7; bring something from your cellar to trade or share.

WEDNESDAY

Black Label releases a Pale Session Coffee Stout brewed in collaboration with the winner of a local homebrew contest. 

– Ecliptic will be featured in a tap takeover at Sandpoint's Idaho Pour Authority starting at 5 p.m. as part of a fundraiser for the Friends of Scotchman Peak Wilderness Winter Tracks program, along with live music and a raffle for an insulated stainless steel growler. Beers scheduled to pour include Carina Peach Sour, Spectra Hoppy Pils, Orbiter IPA, Filament Winter IPA, JH2 IPA, Capella Porter and Third Orbit Imperial Porter.

FRIDAY

– Downdraft will tap its latest small-batch specialty – a jalapeno-infused version of its Seltice SMaSH IPA – for an '80s-themed First Friday party starting at 6, with live music by Sam Leyde, food from Las Brasas Mexican Grill and prizes for the three customers best-dressed for the decade.

– The Steam Plant releases a new batch of its Wild Strawberry Sour.

And as always, keep checking back for more information about everything happening throughout the week.

Fruits of a new year

Counterclockwise, from top left: Fremont has already released its spring seasonal Lush IPA; New Belgium’s IPAs are moving under a new Voodoo Ranger label; Sierra Nevada is introducing an orange version of its iconic pale ale; Full Sail's latest Pub Series offering is a papaya-infused IPA.

Brewers are welcoming 2017 with an array of new beers designed to satisfy the growing thirst for fruitier flavors. Among the offerings from Western breweries that should start showing up on local taps and store shelves soon:

• Fremont is flouting the calendar with the launch of its new spring seasonal Lush IPA (7 percent alcohol by volume, 80 International Bitterness Units), brewed with fruity Citra and Mosaic hops over a pale and honey malt body. It replaces the previous 77 Select session IPA.

This past Monday’s release party at the brewery will be followed by similar events at select locations around the region next Wednesday, including Manito Tap House. Along with the straight beer, those will feature variants with extra Citra and Mosaic infusions plus a cask-conditioned version.

• Mosaic also stars in New Belgium’s revamped roster of hoppy beers under the edgier Voodoo Ranger label. The existing Ranger IPA and Rampant imperial IPA will take on the Voodoo Ranger name with revised recipes, while the new Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Pale (5.5, 35) is a more potent replacement for the previous Slow Ride session IPA.

New Belgium is shaking up the rest of its lineup as well to stay relevant in an ever-evolving craft beer landscape. Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour steps in for the former Snapshot tart wheat; Blue Paddle is being reborn as a crisper Bohemian Pilsener; the golden Dayblazer Easygoing Ale is in, while Shift Lager is out; and Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale follows in the bigger footsteps of Citradelic Tangerine IPA, last year's top new beer brand.

• Sierra Nevada is following suit with fruity new tweaks on two of its core offerings. The iconic Sierra Nevada Pale will be joined by Sidecar Orange Pale Ale (after the cocktail of that name, 5.3, 35), while Torpedo IPA gets a new Tropical Torpedo sidekick (6.7, 55) that’s similar to last year’s spring seasonal Beer Camp Tropical IPA.

This year’s spring release is the wheat-based Beer Camp Golden IPA (6.5, 50, rolling out any day now to knock my beloved Celebration off the shelves).

• Full Sail's latest Pub Series entry is a papaya-infused IPApaya IPA (6.2, 58) brewed with malted wheat and fruity Ekuanot (formerly Equinox) hops.  

 Finally, Deschutes is introducing a year-round Pacific Wonderland Lager (5.5, 37) hopped with orangey Tettnang Mandarina.   

The year in beer

Clockwise from top left: Iron Goat has been packing them in at its downtown taproom after moving there in April; Perry Street won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for its Session IPL; Twelve String began bottling several of its beers in August; the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival saw new highs in both breweries and attendance.

Before 2016 slips into well-deserved oblivion, let’s look back on the bright side at some highlights from the local beer scene, plus a few peeks ahead at the coming year:

• Four more breweries opened in Spokane and Kootenai counties (down from nine in 2015): Young Buck and Little Spokane at the downtown incubator (with its Steel Barrel taproom), V Twin in Spokane Valley and Post Falls Brewing. Other regional newcomers were Chewelah’s Quartzite and two in Moscow, Rants & Raves and Hunga Dunga.

Things show no signs of slowing down in 2017, with several more newcomers at various points in the pipeline. Those include TT’s Old Iron, preparing to join in at the incubator this spring; Four-Eyed Guys, a distribution-only nano; Millwood Brewing and Greenacres’ Sun Mountain in the Valley; and in North Idaho, Bombastic in Hayden, Utara in Sandpoint and Bent Tree in Athol.

On the flip side, Budge Brothers became the third area brewery to call it quits over the past three years (following BiPlane and Ramblin’ Road). Zythum closed its Fairfield taproom but still plans to brew for limited distribution.

• Existing breweries continued to grow. Iron Goat moved to an expanded space in downtown Spokane and added food; Laughing Dog is brewing at a larger Sandpoint-area location, with a taproom expected to open in the spring; and Twelve String plans to transfer its taproom next summer to the bigger building it’s refurbishing in the Valley.

Badass Backyard still is brewing at home but opened an offsite taproom nearby on Argonne, while Whistle Punk just signed a lease for a taproom downtown on Monroe. Top Frog also added a taproom to its Newport brewery.

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Drink in the new

Here’s the latest on New Year’s weekend happenings at area breweries:

238: Closed Saturday and Sunday.

Badass Backyard: Open Saturday until at least 9 p.m.; open Sunday, noon-7.

Bellwether: Growler specials Saturday, closing at 6; closed Sunday.

Big Barn: Closed Saturday-Sunday.

Black Label: Saturday, $1 off first pint with high five or fist bump, $10 growler fills ($13 Gingerbread Winter Warmer); closed Sunday.

Daft Badger: Open Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Downdraft: Saturday, open noon-4.

English Setter: Saturday, open 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. with $11 growler fills; closed Sunday.

Hopped Up: Saturday, $10 growler fills until 9 p.m.

Iron Goat: Gruff Goats tripel release Friday; Saturday, $2 off growler fills

Mad Bomber: Sunday, annual Punk Rock Plunge afterparty with music at 1 p.m. by Bird Fight, Smokey Town Villains and The Drag plus food by Blue Smoke BBQ and raffle prizes including a Remington 1911 pistol.

New Boundary: Open regular hours Saturday (2-10), with $8 growler fills from 4 to 6.

No-Li: Open regular hours Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 

Orlison: Saturday, open noon-6 with $3 pints, $2 schooners and $9 growler fills (also now serving wine).

Perry Street: Saturday, public hours 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. with $4 pints, Frosted Formal (sold out) at 8; Sunday, open at 1 p,m. with the usual $2 off growler fills.

Post Falls: Saturday, Cheap Prick session ale pints $3, champagne toast at midnight, music by Daniel Mills, food from Triple B Backhills BBQ.

Quartzite: Saturday, open regular hours (2-9) with $4 pints.

Rants & Raves: Saturday, first anniversary party with $2 pints and music by The Intentions at 9.

River City: Saturday, open 3-10 with $1 off pints and $10 growler fills; open Sunday until 6.

Selkirk Abbey: Saturday, open until 6, $8 growler fills on core beers; Sunday, fifth annual New Year’s brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with breakfast sandwiches from Black Tie Catering starting at 10:30 plus beer specials (including a keg of Duchesse de Bourgogne sour red on tap) and Mimosas.

Steady Flow Growler House: Saturday, New Year's Eve Masquerade Party with beer specials, trivia at 10:30 and a prize for best mask.  

The Steel Barrel: Saturday, Barrels & Bubbly starting at 2 p.m. with barrel-aged beers (a sour by in-house brewery Young Buck plus Fremont's B-Bomb winter ale and both regular and Spice Wars versions of its Dark Star imperial stout), champagne (in cocktails and for a $2 midnight toast) and oysters and ceviche from adjoining Zona Blanca. 

Top Frog: Saturday, New Year's Eve party starting at 4 features the debut of a big (8.6 ABV) Winter IPA.

Twelve String: Open Saturday.

V Twin: Open Saturday, closed Sunday.

Waddell's Brewpub: Monday, customer appreciation party 4-9 p.m. with drink specials and prizes (including a drawing at 6:30 for a 40-inch TV).