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Weathering year one

Thomas Croskrey (left) and Dave Musser are the men behind Bellwether Brewing.

After building a business rooted in ancient times, Bellwether is celebrating some history of its own.

The North Monroe brewery, which specializes in Old World styles made with herbs and honey, has its first anniversary party Thursday through Saturday with beer releases, food, live music and the launch of a pint club.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised – not surprised, really, but blessed – by how well people have responded to our creativity and taking risks,” says co-owner Dave Musser, a community activist and pastor in the surrounding Emerson-Garfield neighborhood.

“(Partner) Thomas (Croskrey) has been so creative with the beers that he’s done, I think it’s inspired other people to say, hey, let’s do something different.”

Adds Croskrey, a history buff who started homebrewing four years ago and has turned it into a full-time job: “It’s something I learned specifically for this purpose. Now it actually looks like it’s going to work.”

Along with more familiar hefeweizens, pale ales, IPAs and stouts, the more than 100 beers Croskrey has cranked out so far include the likes of gruits – with herbs instead of hops – and braggots, a honeyed hybrid of beer and mead.

He’s particularly proud of his Kulning, an adventurous, Nordic-inspired gruit/braggot brewed with yarrow, juniper, flower honey, toasted oak and a bit of smoky peated malt.

“It was kind of a risk, but it’s done pretty well,” he says. “Sometimes I don’t like drinking my own beer because I’m there from beginning to end and it gets kind of predictable, but that’s one I’ll go and grab.”

This weekend’s festivities kick off Thursday – Bellwether’s actual anniversary – with the tapping of a year-old keg of Seawolf, a brown braggot brewed with flavorful buckwheat honey. “(The aging) really brought out the richness of the honey,” Croskrey says.

There also will be grilled burgers – $5 each, or $1 with a beer purchase – and homemade cupcakes baked by a friend using the brewery’s Barefoot ginger blonde and Brother by Choice stout.

And Bellwether will launch its pint club: For an annual $25 fee, you get a 19.2-ounce metal imperial pint glass that you can get filled for the price of a regular pint.

Friday’s beer release is Higgelstein, a cross between a traditional Oktoberfest and session IPA that had a sneak preview at last weekend’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival. It’s brewed with both German and American ale yeasts, German malts and fruity Jarrylo hops.

Live music will be provided starting at 7 by Renndition, a Coeur d’Alene fiddle/guitar combo.

Things wrap up Saturday with the 10th release in the ongoing Fibber McGee IPA series, this time an imperial version dry-hopped with Centennial.

For food, the 40 Below dessert shop makes a return visit starting at 1 p.m. with snow fluff both beer-infused – using Seawolf and the Second Breakfast hefeweizen – and nonalcoholic. That will be followed from 5 to 8 by the CRATE food truck and $4 pint specials on summer seasonals: Kulning, Barefoot and the dark-colored, light-bodied Halfdan the Mild.

Special events will continue throughout Bellwether’s second year, including more pint nights to benefit local nonprofits and a planned December brewer’s dinner featuring four spiced Belgian-style ales.

There will be more collaborations along the lines of a pair to be released in the near future: a roasted pumpkin porter with Young Buck Brewing, and a strong dark braggot with hand-picked green walnuts produced jointly with Green Bluff’s Hierophant Meadery.

There’s also talk of special 22-ounce bottle releases around Christmas, and eventually some limited distribution. That will depend on adding more tanks to Bellwether’s small 1.5-barrel brewing system.

“We’re going to grow slowly and organically,” Musser says. “We don’t want to get in over our heads.”

It’s all still an adventure, Croskrey adds: “We don’t feel like we necessarily know everything just because we have a year behind us. We have plans and goals, but it still kind of feels like we’re winging it.”

Your weekly planner

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9/28

– River City has a tap takeover today from 6 to 8 at Caruso's in Spokane Valley, with live music by The Powers. 

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 9/27

– A free 10 Barrel tasting Wednesday starting at 3:30 at Pilgrim's will include S1inist0r black ale, Joe IPA, DUB double IPA, Pray for Snow winter ale and barrel-aged Jamaica Me imperial pumpkin, along with Bubbly Cider. 

– This week's Wednesday small-batch release at Daft Badger will be the Kahlua Porter that was voted crowd favorite at last week's Girl Scouts Craft Beer & Cookie Fest in Coeur d'Alene.

– The Payette Brewing tasting that was scheduled for Friday at the South Hill Growler Guys has been canceled.

– MickDuff's Hoptoberfest on Saturday from 2 to 10 will feature two fresh-hop beers on tap – Wet Hop IPA and Wet Hop Honey Drop – along with Mashing Pumpkin (regular and barrel-aged), 2014 Vanilla Imperial Bourbon Stout and 2015 Gold Stout, plus live music and games.    

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– Steady Flow Growler House hosts an Iron Horse tap takeover from 6 to 8.

– Iron Goat is pouring the last of its small-batch habanero/Hatch pepper-infused Head Butt IPA.

– Post Falls Brewing has introduced a coffee version of its Big Jilm imperial porter.

– The mildly sour summer seasonal Passionfruit Gose is beer of the week at Twelve String, with $4 pints and $8 growler fills.

TUESDAY

– A Ballast Point tap takeover from 4 to 9 at The Filling Station on 5th features Grunion Pale Ale, Sculpin IPA, Grapefruit Sculpin, Dead Ringer Oktoberfest, Pumpkin Down Scottish Pumpkin Ale, Homework Batch 6 Robust Porter, The Commodore American Stout, Indru Kunindra Curry Stout and Three Sheets Aged Barley Wine.

– No-Li's weekly Flights & Bites starting at 5 features pork taquitos paired with Red, White & No-Li pale, chile colorado with Poser pale and caramel-topped flan with Spin Cycle Red for $15. 

WEDNESDAY

– Bellwether's community pint night from 3 to 9, with $1 from each pint sold going to the Spokane Edible Tree Project, also serves as the first in a "Quest for the Ale Trail Growler" series of gatherings by Inland Northwest Girls Pint Out starting at 7.   

– The #SpoBU Twitter group holds its monthly meetup from 4 to 6 at Steady Flow Growler House.

– A Green Flash tap takeover starting at 6 at The Steel Barrel will be accompanied by a Piggy-Palooza Patio Party with pork dishes by San Diego chef Hanis Cavin.

THURSDAY

– Bellwether kicks off its first anniversary celebration from 3 to 9 with the release of year-old Seawolf braggot, a burger barbecue from 5 to 8 ($1 each with a beer purchase), cupcakes made with Barefoot ginger blonde and Brother by Choice dry stout, and the launch of a pint club.

FRIDAY

– Bellwether's first anniversary celebration continues from 1 to 10 with the taproom release of Higgelstein hybrid Oktoberfest/IPA and live music by Renndition from 7 to 9.

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys has a Stone tasting from 4 to 7.

SATURDAY

– Bellwether's first anniversary celebration continues from 1 to 10 with the release of an imperial Fibber McGee's IPA, the CRATE food truck from 5 to 8 (along with summer seasonal pint discounts) and both beer-infused and nonalcoholic snow fluff by 40 Below.

– Big Barn is donating $1 from every pint sold between 1 and 9 to the Pourinforwarren fund to help a local man battling brain cancer; all proceeds from barbecue and family portrait sales during the day also will go to the cause. 

– Daft Badger, Downdraft, Mad Bomber, Paradise Creek, Summit Cider, Trickster's and Wallace Brewing will be pouring at the ninth annual Harrison Oktoberfest from 1 to 7. 

– Downdraft has a release party from 6 to 8 for its Cranberry Spice Rye Pale Ale.

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

Your weekly roundup

Daft Badger Brewing photo

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

– The Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival drew a respectable opening-night crowd Friday after a slow start amid unexpectedly cool, damp, windy weather.

With the forecast calling for sunny skies this afternoon – and better-than-ever sales of advance tickets (good for either day) – expectations are higher for today’s session from noon to 8, which will be all-ages for the first time (kids admitted free with a parent or guardian).

The brewery total sits at 40 after Tacoma’s Wingman was a no-show. While it happened too late to make the official list, Clarkston’s Riverport stepped in for late cancellation Puyallup River and brought its Bullseye PA, Alpha Reign fresh hop, Schnauzen Honker Oktoberfest and a barrel-aged sour blonde.

As usual, there were plenty of other beers pouring that you won’t find in the program, including an imperial peach IPA from Bale Breaker; a lower-octane peach IPA by Whistle Punk (in lieu of its listed fresh hop, which wasn’t ready); No-Li’s Pumpkin Pie PA (a rather tasty gourd-infused Born & Raised); a habanero and Hatch pepper version of Iron Goat’s Impaler imperial IPA; a Mosaic dry-hopped firkin of Twelve String’s Batch 201 IPA; the Block 40 fresh hop and Oktoberfest from Ten Pin; Black Label’s V-Town Vienna lager and Burgundy Scotch (though no Espresso Stout); a new version of Waddell’s Connie Mack Reserve strong ale, conditioned with bourbon-soaked oak; and various selections on a rotating Orlison tap.

– Orlison is serving an experimental red ale (6.4 percent alcohol by volume, 55 International Bitterness Units) at the downtown taproom.

– 238 Brewing today releases its 8 Point Bock, brewed with homemade apple butter.

– Daft Badger’s Kahlua Porter paired with Thin Mints was the winning combo in the crowd vote at Thursday’s inaugural Coeur d’Alene Craft Beer & Cookie Fest by the local Girl Scouts organization.

– No-Li announced that its new Citra-hopped Red, White & No-Li Pale will be available year-round in 12-ounce cans beginning Nov. 8, along with the already-released 22-ounce bottles and draft.

Avista arrives

All week long, we’ve been telling you about all the beers that will be pouring at this year’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival. Today, it’s time to start drinking them.

A record 41 breweries from throughout Washington and North Idaho will be on hand for the seventh annual festival, in its third year at Avista Stadium, today from 4 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 8. By the time it’s over, close to 200 different beers will have been tapped.

Before you start diving into them, a few last-minute reminders:

– If you didn’t get tickets in advance, you’ll be paying $25 per day at the door ($15 for military with ID). That gets you a tasting glass and your first six 5-ounce pours (extra tokens are $2 each or three for $5).

– While today is 21-and-over only, for the first time, Saturday will be all-ages with minors admitted free when accompanied by a ticketed parent or guardian. Kids’ activities in short right field will include a slide, bouncy house, obstacle course and toddler zone.

– The live music stage at second base will play host to rootsy singer/songwriter Marshall McLean (solo) at 5:30 and Folkinception (a stripped-down “light” version) at 7 today, and classic rockers Rain City Time Machine at 3 and acousti-funk trio Dimestore Prophets at 5 on Saturday.

– Food will be provided by the Meltz Extreme Grilled Cheese, Veraci Pizza and 3 Ninjas trucks along the left field line.

– Parking is free, but remember, be responsible. Designated drivers are admitted for $5, which includes free soda and water.

Your weekly planner

UPDATE FRIDAY 9/23

– Iron Goat is serving habanero and Hatch-pepper infused versions of its Head Butt IPA and Impaler imperial IPA.

 

UPDATE THURSDAY 9/22

– English Setter and Hopped Up are pouring at the second annual Ale Fest at Valleyfest on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

 

UPDATES WEDNESDAY 9/21

– Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bennidito's Pizza and the first birthday of Bennidito's Brewpub on Saturday from noon to 8 at the pub, including an Anniversary Double IPA collaboration with Schooner Exact, live music and art displays along Sprague in conjunction with Art on the Ave.

– Mad Bomber has a release party for its community-sourced fresh hop ale along with a new fall IPA on Saturday from noon to 4 with pint specials.

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 9/20

– Daft Badger's weekly Wednesday small-batch release will be the return of Bourbon Stout (with a large batch to follow).

– Trickster's has a release party for its Wet Spot fresh hop ale on Friday from 4 to close, with $3 pints.

 

The early scoop on a jam-packed week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– Roundabout Confusion harvest ale is the beer of the week at Twelve String, with $4 pints and $11 growler fills.

WEDNESDAY

– Twelve String has a release party from noon to 9 for its first fresh hop beer of the season, a Simcoe IPA.

THURSDAY

– Perry Street Brewing's third annual Oktoberfest on Thursday (2-10 p.m.) and Friday will feature a special Oktoberfest lager and hefeweizen (32-ounce steins available with discount fills) along with a German-style food menu.    

– An Elysian tap takeover from 4 to 8 at the Post Street Ale House will include Night Owl pumpkin ale, The Immortal IPA, Dragonstooth Stout and the Huckleberry Berliner Weisse collaboration with Payette Brewing.

FRIDAY

– The Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival returns to Avista Stadium on Friday (4-9, adults only) and Saturday, with offerings from 41 breweries plus live music and food. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, which includes a tasting glass and six (5-ounce) beer tokens ($15/military with ID, $5/designated drivers); look for a series of blog posts here throughout the week exploring this year's beer list.

– Coeur d'Alene's Oktoberfest on Friday (4-9) and Saturday will feature beers from Beck's, Downdraft, Elysian, Epic, Firestone Walker, Goose Island, Grand Teton, Hoegaarden, Iron Horse, Ninkasi, Odell, River CIty, Spaten and 10 Barrel at eight downtown venues plus live music and German food. Advance tickets are $20 ($25 at the door), which includes a commemorative glass, your first six 4-ounce pours and admission to music venues.

– Paulaner's Oktoberfest Marzen, Hefe-Weizen and Original Munich Lager will be served for downtown Spokane's Oktoberfest at the River from Friday (noon-midnight, free admission until 3) through Saturday, along with German-style food and entertainment; tickets are $10 ($15 for the full weekend).  

– Perry Street's Oktoberfest continues from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys hosts Boise Brewing for a tasting from 4 to 7.

– Wander Brewing's Raspberry Lager and Foeder WƎN elderberry sour will be featured in a beer and cider tasting beginning at 5 at Bottles in Spokane Valley, with the Toby's BBQ truck on hand.

SATURDAY

– The Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival continues from noon to 8, with minors accompanied by a parent/guardian admitted for free (with special kids' activities). 

– Spokane's Oktoberfest at the River continues from noon to midnight. 

– Downtown Coeur d'Alene's Oktoberfest continues from 1 to 8 p.m.

SUNDAY

– River City will be featured in the inaugural brewer’s dinner at David’s Pizza starting at 6 p.m. Tickets for the four-course meal are $25; call (509) 483-7460.

– Spokane's Oktoberfest at the River continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with special $5 admission. 

Avista preview: Rest of the fest

This is the fourth and final in a series of posts exploring the beer lineup for this weekend’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival.

So far, we’ve told you about the fall seasonals, hoppy beers and fruit/sour selections scheduled for the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival this weekend.

But that’s only the beginning. Among the other styles being served at Avista Stadium on Friday and Saturday (not counting, of course, all the surprises brewers bring that aren't in the official program):

– Crisp, clean Kolsch ale/lager hybrids are coming from Bennidito’s (Sigrid’s), Fremont (Boat, with custom Skagit Valley malt) and Paradise Creek (Kugar).

– Pouring Pilsners are 7 Seas (253), Boundary Bay (also with Skagit Valley malt) and Icicle (Crosscut).

– More lagers are on the way from Everybody’s (Local Logger), Orlison (Clem’s Gold) and Schooner Exact (Pale Lager).

– Rants & Raves’ Common Punk is in the California common (aka steam beer) style, with lager yeast fermented at ale temperatures.

– Georgetown’s Gusto Crema cream ale is made with oats, Munich malt and medium roast coffee beans.

– Lighter ales include Black Label’s Honey Blonde, Daft Badger’s Final Mile Golden, Diamond Knot Blonde and Paradise Creek’s bigger (6.5 ABV)  Pokerface Blonde.

– Pale ales are arriving in both American styles – Bennidito’s Checkerboard, Fish’s Beyond the Pale and Twelve String’s Arpeggio – and more malt-forward British-influenced interpretations including Paradise Creek J-Dub’s (still with plenty of Northwest hops), English Setter’s Busted ESB, Rants & Raves’ Earl of Idaho and Young Buck’s Old English, aged on French oak chunks and Tahitian vanilla beans.

– Among ambers and reds, look for Badass Backyard’s 5050 Amber, English Setter’s Chukar Nose and Red Setter Retriever, a Randalled River City Red, Silver City’s Ridgetop Red, Top Frog’s coffee-Randalled Espresso Red and Twelve String’s Red Guitar.

– Orlison is bringing both its standard seasonal Boulder Garden Brown and a hazelnut-infused version, while Top Frog features a brown ale fermented in a merlot barrel with locally grown buckwheat.

– Hearty Scotch ales are well-represented by Daft Badger’s Scotchy Scotch Scotch, Laht Neppur’s Piper Canyon, Northern’s Okanogan Highlander, Silver City’s Fat Scotch and Bellwether’s Wind on Sea, brewed with a healthy dose of spruce buds and aged for six months.

– Bigger Belgian styles include Young Buck’s Abbey Dubbel, Republic’s Flying Cloud Tripel and Perry Street’s barrel-aged Chardonnay Tripel.

– Republic also has its smoky Wildfire German rauchbier, while Rants & Raves offers a honeyed Norse-style Aegir’s Grog braggot brewed with ginger and juniper berries.

– Porters pouring are English Setter’s lighter Llewellin, Fremont’s Proletariat, Georgetown (formerly 9LB), Republic’s Big Mischief, Big Barn’s Blackberry, Hopped Up’s infused Orange Vanilla and Icicle’s coconut-accented Dark Persuasion German Chocolate Cake.

– For standard stouts, there’s Iron Goat’s Goatmeal, Paradise Creek’s Invective, Puyallup River’s Mud Mountain Milk Stout and Ten Pin’s Snake Eye, while imperials include Paradise Creek’s rye-spiked Ruskie Juice, Top Frog’s Fallen Frog on nitro, Waddell’s Imperial Alligator Oatmeal Stout, River City’s Midnight Marmot conditioned over raspberries or whiskey-soaked oak chips, and Fish’s huge (13 ABV) Cocoa Nib with licorice and molasses (tapping at 6 p.m. Friday).

– Coffee lovers can look for Black Label’s Espresso Stout, No-Li’s spiced Chai Latte Rise & Grind and Whistle Punk’s barrel-aged Espresso Milk Stout with vanilla.

– For other barrel-aged offerings, check out Big Barn’s Black Dog in Patit Creek syrah barrels; Twelve String’s syrah barrel Blackberry Stout and Double Chocolate Stout aged in Woodford bourbon barrels; and Fremont’s bourbon Dark Star imperial oatmeal stout, on tap Friday from 7 to 9 and Saturday from 4 to 6, followed by a coffee-infused version.

– Finally, if cider is more your style, Fish is serving the Dark & Dry from sister business Spire Mountain (a bourbon barrel-aged rendition is tapping Saturday at 3) and Two Beers is pouring Seattle Cider’s Pumpkin Spice. 

Avista preview: Fruit beers/sours

This is the third in a series of posts exploring the beer lineup for this weekend’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival.

Whether you like your fruit beers sweet or tart (or both), you’ll find plenty to choose from at this weekend’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival.

Among the selections scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Avista Stadium:

– Hopped Up has both a watermelon cream ale and a pina colada-style Wicked Wahini version containing coconut and pineapple.

– No-Li’s Cucumber Honey Switch Hitter is an infused version of the brewery’s regular golden ale.

– Ten Pin uses both wheat and rye along with freshly squeezed pineapple in its Mosaic-hopped Groove Pineapple Wheat.

– Badass Backyard’s sweet-tart raspberry Daring Diva Razz Wheat is on the stronger side for the category at 6.5 percent ABV.

– Coeur d’Alene’s Daft Badger brings a Huckleberry Hound brewed with wild North Idaho berries.

– Big Barn’s Peach Wit is made with farm-fresh fruit, while Laht Neppur’s Flaming Peach is an amber ale brewed with a piquant combination of peach juice, ginger, cinnamon, jalapenos and cayenne pepper.

– Also on the spicy side is the Steam Plant’s Jalapeno Ale, with peppers pureed by the brewery/restaurant’s kitchen (and yes, they are technically a fruit).

– Other fruity ambers include Laht Neppur’s Strawberry Cream, with strawberry juice and milk sugar, and English Setter’s Belton Orange.

– Orlison’s Orangelicious Golden Ale combines lactose (milk sugar), vanilla and fresh orange zest to mimic a frozen Creamsicle.

– The Steam Plant’s Blood Orange is a pale ale brewed with Citra hops and infused with blood orange puree for a semisweet, lightly bitter flavor.

– From the barrel, Fish has a black lager aged in oak and “soured” with tart cherries (tapping at 1 p.m. Saturday), while River City is bringing both its wine barrel-aged huckleberry ale and a firkin of fruit-conditioned, dry-hopped Girlfriend Golden.

– Turning to true sours, Boundary Bay’s Citraweisse is a kettle-soured Berliner weisse with Citra hops and club wheat from Skagit Valley Malting.

– Also in the Berliner style are Fremont’s Cucumber Sour Weisse, Schooner Exact’s Jawja Peach and Paradise Creek’s popular Huckleberry Pucker.

– The crisp Sprinkles from Everybody’s Brewing is a sour red brewed with hibiscus flowers.

– Salt-spiked goses are coming from Twelve String, with its passionfruit version, and Young Buck with a Mimosa Gose using Cara Cara orange juice and zest.

– Young Buck also is bringing a barrel-aged sour saison, while Perry Street is pouring its tart saison aged on ripe blackberries.

– Waddell’s has its Black Berry Sour with hand-processed local berries and the Steam Plant its Wild Strawberry Sour (mixing the two became common practice at the recent Spokane Brewers Festival).

– Iron Goat is bringing both its Blackberry Apricot Sour and a Cherry Sour that will be served in the special tent for Washington Beer Lovers (WABL) members.

Cookies & craft in CdA

After three increasingly successful Spokane outings, the area Girl Scouts organization is taking its cookies- and-beer show to Coeur d’Alene.

The Lake City’s inaugural Craft Beer & Cookie Fest, on Thursday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Midtown Bluebird bistro, 816 N. 4th, will feature six Girl Scout cookie styles paired with beers from three local breweries.

“It’s a boutique version of what we’ve done in Spokane,” says Bretta Walker, events specialist for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. “It’s a much smaller venue, a smaller atmosphere for the first year.”

Attendance at the Spokane event, which will return Oct. 22, has grown from roughly 100 people the first year to 200 in 2014 and 300 last year.

“We’ve already got a buzz about it,” Walker says. “We think Coeur d’Alene is going to keep the momentum going.”

Thursday’s pairings (with participants voting on the winner) will include:

– Caramel-and-coconut Samoas with Slate Creek’s Salmon Run Irish red.

– Peanut butter Do-Si-Dos with Mad Bomber’s All-American Amber.

– Shortbread Trefoils with Slate Creek’s 6 Weight IPA.

– Lemony Savannah Smiles with Mad Bomber’s Fatman IPA.

– The classic Thin Mints with Daft Badger’s Kahlua Porter.

– Chocolate-covered peanut butter Tagalongs with Daft Badger’s Bourbon Stout.

Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, which includes a tasting mug, your first four 4-ounce pours and light appetizers, along with a box of cookies to take home. Proceeds support scholarships, camperships and leadership programs for local Girl Scouts.

Avista preview: For hopheads

This is the second in a series of posts exploring the beer lineup for this weekend’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival.

Given the continuing popularity of the style, it’s no surprise that IPAs account for about one-fourth of the almost 180 beers on tap for this weekend’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival.

Here’s a closer look at the hoppier selections pouring Friday and Saturday at Avista Stadium, including this fall’s crop of fresh hop beers:

– Seattle crowd favorite Fremont is serving its new Citrado, featuring fruity Citra and El Dorado hops over a pilsner and honey malt base, and an infused ginger/lime Moscow Mule version of its standard Interurban.

Other less familiar offerings from outside the area include Boundary Bay’s four-hop Cedar Dust, Island Hoppin’s Elwha Rock (Chinook/Centennial/Zeus), Two Beers’ Wonderland Trail (Amarillo/Citra/Mosaic/Cascade) and Wingman’s rye/rosemary Shin Cracker.

– Locally, Whistle Punk has a hazy, juicy New England-inspired Coast to Coast with Mosaic and Citra, and Bennidito’s is bringing its new, malt-forward single-hop Red Citra.

And on the lager side, the Steam Plant debuts its Boiler 6 India pale lager with locally produced Palouse Pint malt, while Orlison has its dry-hopped IPL.

– Among the more usual suspects from around the area, look for Black Label’s Tropical Thunder, Hopped Up’s Mad Hopper, Iron Goat’s Head Butt, Northern’s Flume Creek, Top Frog’s Whistling Frog and Twelve String’s Batch 201 and C#7#5.

More far-flung favorites include 7 Seas’ Rude Parrot, Bale Breaker’s Topcutter, Everybody’s Country Boy, Georgetown’s Bodhizafa, Icicle’s Bootjack, Schooner Exact’s Hopvine and Ten Pin’s Head Pin.

– Heavier hitters are coming in the form of Bale Breaker’s big Bottomcutter, Bennidito’s Good Karma, Diamond Knot’s Industrial , Elysian’s Space Dust, Daft Badger Badger’s Bounty, Everybody’s Hoppy AF, Fremont’s The Brother, Iron Goat’s Impaler, Rants & Raves’  Anonymous, Schooner Exact’s Truancy and Twelve String’s Electric Slide.

No-Li has a supercharged (11.5 percent ABV), dry-hopped StarKiller version of its Jet Star imperial; Bellwether its big, braggot-style Honey Hop and a smoky, experimental Perle-hopped For Peat’s Sake (tapping Saturday at 5 p.m.); Island Hoppin’ an Old Madrona Imperial Red; and Fish its 10-hop, 100-IBU, 10-ABV 10 Squared (tapping Saturday at 6 p.m.)

– On the more sessionable side, look for Ten Pin’s Shrunken Head Pin (4.5 percent ABV), River City’s Afternoon (4.6), Orlison’s Shin Splints (5.3), Waddell’s Hop Comet (5.3) and Silver City’s Nice Day (5.5).

– Fremont leads the fresh hop parade with its beloved organic Cowiche Canyon blend, along with the first two entries in its new single-hop Field to Ferment series, starring Centennial and Simcoe.

Centennial is the centerpiece of Two Beers’ rendition, while Whistle Punk uses homegrown Centennial and Cascade.  Other Simcoe offerings come from Perry Street, Paradise Creek and Iron Goat (an unusual soured version).

There’s also an Amarillo from Schooner Exact, a Squeezed Wheat from Top Frog with fresh homegrown Mosaic and the Frazier’s Fresh Hop Harvest Ale from Republic Brewing using an assortment of locally collected hops. 

Avista preview: Fall seasonals

This is the first in a series of posts exploring the beer lineup for this weekend’s Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival.

The calendar says it’s officially fall starting Thursday, and brewers coming to the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival this weekend are getting in gear.

Among the autumn (and later) seasonals scheduled to pour Friday and Saturday at Avista Stadium:

– The event started as Spokane Oktoberfest back in the day, and traditional malty, German-style lagers for the occasion are coming from Perry Street, Silver City, the Steam Plant and Waddell’s.

Diamond Knot chimes in with an Oktoberfest-inspired Fog Bank Fall Ale, while Bellwether’s hoppy Higgelstein, brewed with both American and German yeasts, is described as a cross between a Marzen lager and session IPA.

– Pumpkin fans can look for Big Barn’s homegrown Golden Pumpkin, Elysian’s popular Night Owl, Puyallup River’s Jack O’Lahar, a light, lightly spiced Steam Plant take and Two Beers’ Pumpkin Spice. For something hoppier, there's the Pumpkin Pie PA variation on No-Li's Born & Raised; for a nightcap, try Twelve String’s imperial pumpkin porter aged in Cruzan rum barrels.

– Laht Neppur gets a jump on even cooler weather with Waitsburg Winter Warmer, a big amber ale spiced with sweet orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and allspice plus honey.

Fremont, meanwhile, will serve the bourbon barrel-aged B-Bomb version of its Abominable winter ale on Friday from 5 to 7 and Saturday from noon to 2, followed by a coffee-cinnamon variation from 2 to 4.

– And when the sun goes down, warm up with three big barleywines: Northern Ales’ honeyed Beer Belly Warmer, Wingman’s oak-aged Sawbuck and Twelve String’s year-old Volume 4 Anniversary aged in Woodinville whiskey barrels.  

Your weekly roundup

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

– Square Wheel Brewing keeps slowly picking up speed. The in-house brewery at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars is getting some 10-barrel fermenters so it can double-batch off its five-barrel system, allowing it to better serve the winery’s Cliff House tasting room – the only place you can get the beer now – and begin limited self-distribution to outside accounts later this fall.

Look for an ale version of a traditional German Marzen lager at Arbor Crest’s upcoming Oktoberfest celebration Oct. 8-9.

– V Twin Brewing has set a grand opening date of Oct. 21 in Millwood (2302 N. Argonne, just south of Montgomery). 

– River City’s Girlfriend Golden, Munich Helles, Gose-Way, Riverkeeper IPA and raspberry Midnight Marmot imperial stout will be served for the inaugural brewer’s dinner at David’s Pizza on Sunday, Sept. 25. Tickets for the four-course meal are $25; call (509) 483-7460.

– Bennidito’s Brewpub today released the latest entry in its single-hop series, a Citra IPA (6.4 percent alcohol by volume, 67 International Bitterness Units), while English Setter tapped a new Busted ESB.

– Bellwether and Young Buck this week brewed a collaboration roasted pumpkin porter with homegrown squash and sage plus applewood chips. Look for the release in a couple of weeks.

– The Steel Barrel taproom had to cancel next Thursday’s planned Puyallup River Brewing tap takeover because of scheduling issues, but mark your calendar for a visit from San Diego hopheads Green Flash on Sept. 28.

– The Blackbird has become the first Spokane business to offer a discount for American Homebrewers Association members, who get 50 percent off their first beer.

– Finally, read more about No-Li’s brewing philosophy and community commitment in this new interview with The Growler Guys.  

Powder to the people

When it comes to hops, brewers are beginning to get left in the dust – and they’re loving it.

Lupulin powder – a purified concentration of the resin compounds and aromatic oils in whole hop flowers – is being test-marketed by Yakima-based YCH Hops (Yakima Chief-Hopunion).

The first area breweries to receive the new product are Perry Street and Trickster’s. Both are using it along with newly harvested whole hops in this season’s fresh-hop beers, and Perry has made it the focus of a just-released, revamped Citra Dust double IPA.

“We decided, let’s change the ABV, make it a big beer and dust it,” owner/brewer Ben Lukes says. “People are going insane over it.”

Lukes took his previous Citra DIPA recipe, bumped the alcohol by volume from 8 to 9 percent and dry-hopped with Citra powder after regular hop pellet additions. The result is hugely aromatic with a distinct, intense, non-vegetal hop flavor.

For his first fresh-hop beer of the season – just released today – Lukes used both Citra powder and pellets, and sandwiched some Mosaic powder in between a 300-pound layer of fresh Simcoe.

He plans to brew an all-powder beer sometime later this fall, “just to see how it reacts at every stage.” But in the long run, Lukes says, “I think what we’re going to find is that it’s best used in combination with pellets, to make the aroma and flavor pop.

“Overall, it’s an awesome product,” he says. “I think it has a lot of potential. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Trickster’s head brewer Evan Ruud – whose brother, Blaze, is YCH’s Northwest regional sales manager – was the first to use lupulin powder locally, in a collaboration Cascadian dark ale with Twelve String for May’s Spokane Craft Beer Week. That featured Simcoe in four forms: whole leaf, pellets, extract and powder.

Ruud added both Simcoe and Mosaic powder to his new fresh-hop ale, to be tapped Monday, which he calls a step up from last year’s. Like Lukes, he used 20 pounds of fresh Simcoe hops per barrel, or 10 pounds per keg – “enough to fill the keg all the way to the brim,” he says.     

“I was going so big with the fresh hops that I wanted to cut out the grassy flavors in any other spot that I could,” Ruud says, which is why he used powder for the other hop additions. That also allowed him to get some Mosaic flavor without the oniony and catty notes that can come from the whole hop, he says.

Along with cleaner flavors, Ruud says, lupulin powder also contributes a more complex mouthfeel and reduces perceived bitterness. "It’s just another tool in the bag for making good beer,” he says.

As well as boosting quality, lupulin powder can increase efficiency by reducing the amount of liquid that gets trapped in hop pellet sediment, called trub. Breweries so far have been reporting gains of 3 to 10 percent, with most falling in the middle range, Blaze Ruud says.

“It’s more sustainable, with less environmental impacts going down the drain,” he says. “That’s particularly attractive to larger brewers.”

YCH uses a proprietary cryogenic process to separate the powder from the leafy part of the hop cone. That’s also being sold separately as debittered hop leaf, to provide pure aroma along the lines of European noble hops.

Your weekly planner

UPDATES FRIDAY 9/16

– No-Li officially releases its seasonal, Citra-hopped Red White & No-Li pale ale (the first 25 pint orders after 5 p.m. get a free T-shirt).

– River City's Randall for the weekend is the sessionable Afternoon IPA through apples and cinnamon.

 

UPDATES THURSDAY 9/15

– Mad Bomber is offering $3.50 pints all day to celebrate this month's Action Comics cover print release (free pint with each poster purchase).

– Quartzite in Chewelah is pouring a plum grisette (plus a kolsch for mug club members only).

 

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 9/14

– Four selections from Sierra Nevada's 2016 Beer Camp Across America collaboration pack – West Latitude Session Rye with hibiscus, the cider-spiked Pat-Rye-Ot pale, Moxee-Moron Imperial Session IPA and Stout of the Union – will pour in a tap takeover Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 at Enoteca.

 

UPDATE TUESDAY 9/13

– An Oktoberfest lager is this week's Wednesday small-batch release at Daft Badger, in advance of the brewery's annual celebration (see Saturday listings).

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– Archtop Amber is the beer of the week at Twelve String, with $4 pints and $8 growler fills.

TUESDAY

– No-Li launches its weekly Tuesday Flights & Bites. with three small-plate bites paired with accompanying beers from 5:30 to 8.

WEDNESDAY

– Ninkasi beers will be on tap for an American Heritage Wildlife Foundation fundraiser from 5 to 8 at Sandpoint's Idaho Pour Authority along with raffles, complimentary appetizers and live music.

– The Inland Northwest Beer Choir chapter holds its second gathering at Bellwether from 7 to 8:30; all are welcome to join in song.

THURSDAY

– Twelve String has a release party for its Roundabout Confusion harvest ale starting at noon.

FRIDAY

– Grand Teton comes to the Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys for a tasting from 4 to 7 including the seasonal Fest Bier, Bitch Creek ESB, Tropical Lost Continent imperial IPA and Wake Up Call porter.

– Elysian will be featured in a tasting from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Spokane Valley Total Wine; cost is $10.

SATURDAY

– Daft Badger's second annual Oktoberfest starting at noon features both the house beers and offerings from Orlison plus live music by Step Brothers (with Rare Earth's Peter Rivera) and DJ Coma, and German-style food including sausages and beer cheese pretzels. 

– Pints Alehouse hosts a Dogfish Head event beginning at 3 with Biere de Provence saison, Beer to Drink Music To tripel, Raison D'Extra strong Belgian dark, the 60, 90 and 120 Minute and oak-aged imperial Burton Baton IPAs, Bitches Brew imperial stout, Olde School Barleywine and strong, smoky Immort Ale (all in tasters or full pours). 

– Elysian visits the North Spokane Total Wine for a tasting from 3 to 5; cost is $10.

And as always, keep coming back for more info about everything happening throughout the week.

Sip and shop

We previously told you that the Fred Meyer store in Spokane Valley would be offering growler fills as part of a major renovation. And now you’ll be able to drink beer there, too.

The store at Sprague and Sullivan will feature Freddy’s first full-scale Cork & Tap wine and beer bar. Parent company Kroger pioneered the concept this summer at three Houston, Texas stores, while Kroger-owned QFC opened one in Bellevue (pictured above).

There’s a smaller version seating a handful of people at the Fred Meyer Stadium store in Portland, says Melinda Merrill, community affairs manager for the Portland-based chain. “It turned out to be so popular, it was voted one of best places to go before a Portland Timbers (soccer) game,” she says.

The Valley Cork & Tap will serve 10 beers and 16 wines with a local/regional focus, Merrill says. There will be a limited food menu featuring flatbread pizzas, and two TVs.

Like the ones in Houston and Bellevue, it will close relatively early – operating daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. – and have a two-drink limit per person.

“We’re not trying to be a bar,” says Merrill. “It’s just another place you can stop by on your way home from work to meet friends, and pick up some groceries. Or if one person is going shopping, the other person can sit and have a beer.”

It’s the sort of thing supermarkets need to do these days to remain competitive, she adds: “Supermarkets are trying to give you more reasons to come in. There are so many online and delivery options, if you want to be relevant to the customer, this is the kind of thing you have to offer them.”

The entire space formerly devoted to electronics at the Valley store is being turned into a beer, wine and spirits section, with a back wall full of local, regional and other craft beers. The grand reopening is scheduled for Oct. 26, though the Cork & Tap may launch earlier.

The other Fred Meyer stores in Spokane on North Division and South Thor, which are undergoing less extensive renovations, also will be getting growler stations (but no Cork & Tap). The Coeur d’Alene store started offering growler fills last October.

The Spokane/Coeur d’Alene stores are being used as a test market for a new approach featuring more food items – up to 2,000 per store – and less general merchandise.   

Beer run

If you’re out and about on Oct. 1, you might notice a couple hundred runners hanging around your favorite taproom.

The inaugural Centennial Beer Chase, a one-day team relay race, will follow a 52-mile route from Coeur d’Alene to Spokane, largely along the Centennial Trail, with stops at seven breweries for beer samples along the way.

It’s modeled after the first event of its kind, the Bend Beer Chase, which has grown from 60 teams to 125 to 180 over its three years. Scott Douglass, founder of Bend-based Cascade Relays, expects 50 entries for the Spokane debut.

“We’ve started a new concept in the running community,” Douglass says. “Almost every run has beer at the finish line, but it’s usually domestic light beer. What we wanted to do was create a model where you’re sampling and celebrating local craft breweries not only at the finish line but during the race.”

Spokane was selected as the next location for a couple of reasons, he says. First, Cascade Relays is familiar with the market from its two-day, 200-mile Spokane to Sandpoint Relay, which had its ninth running last month.

And second, Douglass says, “When you realize how many breweries there are between Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, it’s impressive.”

The 12-leg Centennial Beer Chase will begin at Trickster’s in Coeur d’Alene and finish at the Spokane Convention Center, with stops at Slate Creek, Selkirk Abbey, Post Falls Brewing, English Setter, Bennidito’s Brewpub and Perry Street, plus Arbor Crest Winery (which has its in-house Square Wheel Brewing) and One Tree Hard Cider.

Runners can grab a 3- to 4-ounce sample at each exchange point. With teams of up to six people trading off the legs, both the running and the drinking are kept at a comfortable pace.  

“If you drank at every brewery, you’re only talking 20 or 30 ounces of beer over the course of an all-day event,” Douglass says. “We view it as fuel for the next leg.”

There will be an after-race brewfest with live music and food at the Convention Center, and teams also can continue the course by touring participating downtown breweries.

There’s still time to sign up. Regular registration, at a cost of $225 for a one- or two-person team, $400 for three or four and $575 for five or six, continues through Wednesday; starting Thursday, that increases to $250/$425/$625.

Each team must provide its own van (with a designated driver), as well as a volunteer to work along the course on race day (or make a donation of $100 to have local organizations supply volunteers).

Prizes will be awarded for the best team themes, van decorations, facial hair (real or fake) and follow-up YouTube videos.