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Straight lotta cold beer

Several Spokane breweries put their best beers forward for Blake Shelton before his appearance at the Spokane Arena last night.

When the country star played here in 2014, he liked No-Li’s offerings so much that he had a supply shipped to his next tour stop in Tacoma, then bought another $200 worth to take to his dates in British Columbia.

This time, No-Li delivered a custom case of “Blake Shelton – Doing It to Country Music” golden ale bombers to the Arena backstage before the show, along with a large steel key to the brewery. And Iron Goat, River City, Perry Street and Badass Backyard chipped in with bottles and growlers of their own.

No word whether the “Straight Outta Cold Beer” singer and his crew consumed the entire stash before leaving town.

House parties

Breweries across the state again are hosting a slew of special activities for the seventh annual Washington Beer Open House on Saturday.

Here’s what participating Spokane-area brewers have planned for the event organized by the Washington Beer Commission (all run from noon to 5 p.m. unless otherwise indicated):

Badass Backyard: Tours from noon to 4 of the half-barrel, home-based brewery in Millwood (3115 N. Butler Road), which remains in operation though the taproom recently moved to 1415 N. Argonne Road; park in the gravel driveway on the south side of the house.

Black Label: Brewery tours by request.

English Setter: Tours throughout the afternoon.

Iron Goat: Brewery tours plus a special Restaurant Week food menu with beer pairings; possible release of this year’s spring seasonal Irish Kate imperial red. 

Perry Street: Guided brewery tour at 3 p.m.; happy hour pricing from 2 to 4.

River City: Pouring a tropical fruit-infused Afternoon IPA plus the seasonal Mad Latvian Baltic Porter and Midnight Marmot Imperial Stout.

Steam Plant: Brewery tours on the hour from 3 to 6 p.m.; vertical tasting of the past five years of Stack Frost Winter Ale (five 5-ounce samples for $12).

Top Frog (Newport): Tours of the recently expanded brewery, plus the release of an imperial stout aged in Jack Daniels whiskey barrels.

Twelve String: Brewery tours and the release of two barrel-aged beers: a kitchen-sink “WTF” blend and an unmarked mystery barrel.

Young Buck: Brewery tours available for small groups, with samples of sour beers that are barrel-aging.

Your weekly planner

UPDATES FRIDAY 2/24

– Daft Badger is pouring a big-batch version of last year's small-batch Irish Red (6.3 percent alcohol by volume, 27 International Bitterness Units). 

– The Wicked Wahini pina colada-flavored cream ale is back on tap at Hopped Up.

– River City's Randall for the weekend is the Red through Portland Roasting espresso beans.

– Nectar Wine and Beer in Kendall Yards hosts a Gonzaga basketball "Drive for Perfection Bulldog Watch Party" on Saturday starting at 7, with 30 percent off beer, wine and appetizers.

– Four-Eyed Guys is releasing a Cataract Coffee Kolsch at LeftBank Wine Bar this weekend.

 

UPDATES WEDNESDAY 2/22

– The big Exterminator Scotch Ale (10 percent alcohol by volume, 21 International Bitterness Units) is back on tap as a limited release at Badass Backyard.

– Perry Street has tapped a firkin of Session IPL aged with Murcott tangerines and hopped with Citra.

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 2/21

– Bellwether releases a Dew of the Sea collaboration with One Tree – a blend of rosemary porter and cider – on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., and also has tapped a lager version of its regular Whiter Shade of Pale ale.

– This week's Wednesday small-batch release at Daft Badger is a crisp, fruity IPA hopped with Eldorado and Citra. 

– The #SpoBU beer Twitter meetup group has its monthly gathering Wednesday from 4 to 6 at Lost Boys' Garage. 

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– No-Li rolls out a special Beethoven Golden Ale bottling this week in advance of the Spokane Symphony’s March 10 “Beethoven & Brews” concert, which will feature a No-Li beer garden. Look for the 22-ounce bottles at Rosauers, Yoke’s, Winco and Total Wine stores.

WEDNESDAY

Pilgrim’s welcomes Firestone Walker for a free tasting starting at 3:30 including the Union Jack and Luponic Distortion #5 IPAs, Bravo barrel-aged imperial brown, Sour Opal gueuze and Krieky Bones cherry sour.

THURSDAY

– Fremont’s Dark Heron IPA – brewed in conjunction with Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon – will be featured in a pint night from 5 to 7 at Bennidito’s Pizza on the South Hill, with a raffle for Comicon tickets.

Bellwether launches the first in a seven-week series of special beers brewed with Purple Egyptian barley locally malted by Palouse Pint, accompanied by breads using the grain from Culture Breads.  

FRIDAY

– The Coeur d’Alene Growler Guys is tapping three versions of Epic Brewing’s acclaimed Big Bad Baptist barrel-aged imperial coffee/cocoa stout: a 2015 vintage of the regular beer plus the cinnamon-spiked Big Bad Baptista and special reserve Double Barrel. 

– An Ordnance tasting at Bottles beginning at 5 will include Blooops Blueberry Wheat, RX Pale, EOD IPA, Of Chimpanzees coffee porter and Blackfisk imperial stout.

SATURDAY

– The seventh annual Washington Beer Open House features tours and specials at participating breweries statewide, including Badass Backyard, Black Label, English Setter, Perry Street, River City, Steam Plant, Twelve String and Young Buck; look for full details here later in the week.

– Nine bars and breweries are participating in the Sandpoint Winter Carnival’s Weird & Wonderful Beerfest & Bar Crawl from 2 to 6 p.m.; pick up a souvenir tasting glass and six drink tokens for $20 (extra tokens $2 each) at the 219 Lounge, MickDuff’s Beer Hall and Trinity at City Beach.  

– Nu Home Brew will give a beginner's brewing demonstration from 2 to 4 at the South Hill Library.

– The Inland Northwest chapter of Girls Pint Out meets at Enoteca for beer cocktails from 5 to 8.

– A Big Barn pint night at Lost Boys’ Garage from 6 to 9 will feature Lost Boys Brew (Belgian strong golden), Mead Honey Lager, Dunn Day IPA, Good Earth Nut Brown and Black Dog Imperial Stout on nitro.

SUNDAY

– Twelve String is having a joint release party with Barili Cellars from noon to 5 for the winery's Liquorosso Port and a Drop D Stout aged in the used wine barrels (accompanied by homemade stout brownies). Along with side-by-side tastings, the wine will be available to go in bottles and the beer in 32-ounce grunts.  

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

Purple grain

Ancient Egyptians would bake bread and soak it in water as their first step in brewing beer.

Now a modern Spokane brewer and baker are making beer and bread using a type of barley that originated in the headwaters of the Nile River thousands of years ago.

Bellwether this week launches its Purple Egyptian Barley Project. Over the next seven Thursdays, through April 6, it will release a variety of beers using the grain grown in this region by Palouse Heritage and malted by Palouse Pint in the Spokane Valley.

The beers will be accompanied by breads baked with the barley from Spokane’s Culture Breads. Customers who sample at least six of the offerings will receive a souvenir pint glass and be eligible to vote for their favorite; a full batch of the winner will be brewed for Spokane Craft Beer Week in May.

“We’re pretty excited to see the results,” says Bellwether brewer Thomas Croskrey, who’s known for his creative, historically themed endeavors (like the recent Gruitfest) . “Hopefully we’ll get a full crowd every Thursday.”

Croskrey says the malt made from Purple Egyptian barley, a hull-less grain with a purple/black bran layer, reminds him of Grape-Nuts. “I could pour milk on it and eat it for cereal,” he says.

While it doesn’t actually turn the beer purple, he adds, it imparts a more reddish color compared to typical barley base malts.

Purple Egyptian from Palouse Heritage previously was malted by Skagit Valley Malting in Burlington, Wash. and used in the initial version of Pike Brewing’s Locale Skagit Valley Alba pale ale.

Thursday marks the first time that the locally malted grain will be featured in a public release. Croskrey’s initial beer is an Egyptian-inspired recipe with dates, honey, black pepper and chamomile.

“From the reading I’ve done, they used a lot of dates in their beer, and some honey,” he says. “They didn’t use black pepper, but they had grains of paradise, which is similar.”

Other beers scheduled for release in the series, though the order hasn’t yet been determined, include:

– A hoppy pale that Croskrey says isn’t quite an IPA but gets lots of flavor and aroma from late-addition hops.

– A darker offering conditioned with cocoa nibs, roasted dandelion root and coffee.

– A strong braggot (honey beer) brewed with yerba mate tea from South America.

– A gruit (with herbs instead of hops) using lavender, basil, strawberry leaf and yarrow. “It’s one of my favorite gruits that I’ve made,” Croskrey says.

– An all-Purple Egyptian beer including a small amount of malt smoked by Palouse Heritage’s Don Scheuerman in his smokehouse, with pine resin added for extra character.

– Another using unmalted barley roasted by Palouse Pint’s Joel Williamson along with the base Purple Egyptian malt and some of his regular Crystal/Biscuit 40.   

“I wanted to get a real variety out there and see just how versatile this malt is,” Croskrey says of the lineup.

All are five-gallon batches that will start pouring as soon as Bellwether opens at 3 p.m., so they could go fast. In addition to the slices served with the beers, the Culture Breads creations will be sold as full loaves to go.

Culture Breads’ Shaun Thompson Duffy bakes his breads in a wood-fired oven using traditional, locally grown grains. “He approaches baking in the same way that I approach brewing, with a deep respect for the historical way of doing things,” Croskrey says.       

Your weekly roundup

Catching up with more news from the past week in local craft beer (and beyond):

• The new Palouse chapter of Girls Pint Out, a national organization for women interested in craft beer, has its first event March 2 with a guided tasting at Moscow’s Hunga Dunga Brewing. (The Inland Northwest chapter next meets Feb. 25 for beer cocktails at Enoteca in Post Falls.)

Iron Goat is participating in this year’s Inlander Restaurant Week, which runs from next Thursday through March 4. For $19, the three-course menu includes your choice of Brussels sprouts, beet salad or pate for an appetizer; beef cheeks, bratwurst or a farro risotto for the entrée; and crème brulee, a beer float or a cinnamon sugar/crème anglaise/stout caramel pretzel for dessert.

• Laughing Dog’s Dogzilla black IPA is one of 20 finalists in a national Best Beer Label contest sponsored by USA Today. Voting continues through March 13, with the winner announced on St.Patrick’s Day.      

• Ellensburg’s Iron Horse is accepting applications for an Eastern Washington/North Idaho market manager position.

• Early registration ends Monday for the second annual Pacific Northwest Homebrewers Conference, March 17-18 in Vancouver, Wash. The schedule includes educational seminars, tastings of both amateur and professional beers and a keynote address by Chuckanut's Will Kemper. Cost is $199 (increases to $229 on Tuesday).

• Finally, Wal-Mart is being sued for misrepresenting its in-house imitation craft beers, which are credited to a fictitious Trouble Brewing but actually are produced for the retail chain by New York macrobrewer Genesee. 

Your weekly planner

 

UPDATE FRIDAY 2/17

Post Falls Brewing is donating $1 from every pint sold between 4 and 8 p.m. to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, with Girl Scout cookies available for beer pairings.

 

UPDATES THURSDAY 2/16

– The North Spokane Growler Guys hosts a Boundary Bay tasting Friday from 5 to 7. 

– A fruity new Road Rash IPA at V Twin (6.5 percent alcohol by volume, 85 International Bitterness Units) is hopped with Summit, Sorachi Ace, Warrior and Jarrylo. 

– Hopped Up has tapped a mellow Grapefruit IPA (5.2, 45). 

– Bellwether today releases the latest beer in its small-batch garden series, a sour spontaneously fermented with rosemary and sage inside a pumpkin.   

 

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 2/15

Orangelicious returns at Orlison on Friday, this time in 22-ounce bottles and six-pack cans as well as draft.

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 2/14

– River City on Friday is tapping a special keg of Midnight Marmot imperial stout conditioned with orange and star anise to celebrate the beer's win in the Northwest round of the U.S. Beer Tasting Championships

– New Boundary is pouring a limited-release Big Beautiful Love Porter (6.5 percent alcohol by volume, 25 International Bitterness Units), brewed with chocolate and cherries and aged on red wine oak staves.

– Last summer's Passion Fruit Gose has made a temporary return at Twelve String.

– A hoppy pale ale brewed with SImcoe, Cascade and Mount Hood is this week's small-batch offering at Daft Badger. 

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

TUESDAY

– Newly licensed Four-Eyed Guys has release events for its Hoptometry IPA from 11 a,m. to 3 p.m. at the Valley Hop Jack's, and for a special Valentine's Day Love at First Sight chocolate/rose water kolsch from 4 to 6 at LeftBank Wine Bar (also look for the latter at Steady Flow Growler House, and a straight, non-infused version at Black Label).

WEDNESDAY

Pilgrim's will have Wyoming's Snake River Brewing in the house for a free tasting starting at 3:30, including the Pale Ale, Pakito's Session IPA, Pako's IPA and Zonker Stout.

Badass releases a new small-batch Ridge Run Pilsner (4 percent alcohol by volume, 34 International Bitterness Units) and brings back the No Alibi Coconut Brown (5, 22). 

THURSDAY

– A Ballast Point tasting from 5 to 7 at Enoteca in Post Falls will include Mango Even Keel Session IPA, Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, California Amber Ale and Coconut Victory at Sea imperial porter with coffee and vanilla; trivia follows at 7.

– McClain's Pizzeria hosts an Elysian pint night from 6 to 8 featuring Saison Poivre, Men's Room Red, Space Dust IPA and Dragonstooth Stout, with raffle drawings on the half hour.

– The North Spokane Total Wine welcomes Michigan's Founders Brewing and Oregon's Ordnance Brewing for a "Drink Local" event from 6:30 to 8:30; cost is $10.   

FRIDAY

– The Valley Total Wine hosts Michigan's Founders Brewing, southeastern Idaho's Grand Teton and Seattle's Fremont for a "Drink Local" event from 6:30 to 8:30; cost is $10.   

SATURDAY

Badass Backyard Brewing offers an hourlong yoga class with a certified instructor starting at 1 p.m.; tickets are $10 for the class and one pint, $14 for two pints.

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

Double vision

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 2/15: The Love at First Sight is no longer on tap at Steady Flow Growler House. 


Four-Eyed Guys officially landed on the Spokane beer scene today with a bifocal release.

The bright, citrusy Hoptometry IPA began pouring at Hop Jack’s in the Spokane Valley Mall. And a Valentine-themed Love at First Sight – infused with chocolate and rose water – went on tap at LeftBank Wine Bar and Steady Flow Growler House.

Hoptometry, refreshing and easy-drinking for its 6.3 percent alcohol by volume, gets a crisp, mildly bready character from white wheat and light Munich malts (both locally produced by Palouse Pint). A combination of Citra, Amarillo and Lemondrop hops provides fruity flavors and aromas, from lemon to orange to tropical, with just a slight bitterness.

Love at First Sight, over a smooth, clean kolsch (ale/lager hybrid) base, has a healthy, well-integrated dose of chocolate in the middle followed by a lightly floral finish. The straight, non-infused version also is on as a guest tap at Black Label Brewing downtown, a short stroll from LeftBank for comparison purposes.

Those won’t last long, though; both the infused and regular renditions went out in smaller sixth-barrel (5-gallon) kegs. There’s a standard half-barrel keg of the Hoptometry at Hop Jack’s, so it should be around for a while.

Brewing on a tiny one-barrel system, Four-Eyed Guys plans to supply accounts around town while working toward an eventual taproom of its own.

“We’re just trying to get our name out there,” says co-owner and brewer Alex Rausch. (As for the name, both he and business partner Brian Lollis wear glasses.)     

His most popular beer among friends so far has been a hoppy pilsner. Other mainstays include a coffee porter and Vienna lager. But Rausch’s real passion is for gose, the tart, salty wheat beer style that’s becoming more familiar as sours increase in popularity.

Experimenting with different salts, he’s mastered a summery watermelon version (which was on tap as a collaboration at Bellwether in October) and for Christmas did one with fir needles and cranberry. Rausch envisions having a half-dozen rotating goses in the lineup at the taproom when that time comes.

At this point, he’s in no real hurry. “So far, it’s all been loan-free, and we’d like to keep it that way,” Rausch says.

And with limited production capacity, he adds, “We don’t want to grow so fast we can’t keep up.  People will taste the difference in a rushed beer compared to one you take your time on.” 

Your weekly roundup

UPDATE SATURDAY 2/11: Big Barn won the people's choice "Best Cure For Cabin Fever" award with its Peone Wheat at today's Palouse Cabin Fever Brew Fest. Black Label placed second with Gingerbread Winter Warmer, while Rants & Raves took third for its Anonymous Double IPA.  

 

Catching up with more local craft beer news:

• Let’s start with updates on some of the brewery projects in progress around the area:

– Hayden’s Bombastic Brewing has its space prepared and its recipes ready, and now is waiting for brewing license and bottle label approval. (Until then, you can check out some one-minute beer reviews on their YouTube channel.)

TT’s Old Iron Brewery, which will share a brewhouse with Young Buck and Little Spokane at the downtown brewery incubator/Steel Barrel taproom, expects to receive its fermenter and brite tank in two weeks. It could open by late March or April if all goes well.

Millwood Brewing received its building permit last week and is preparing to renovate the former Cunningham Studio on Frederick west of Argonne with an eye toward a late summer opening.

– Work continues on Sun Mountain Brewing in Greenacres, though no target opening date has been set.

– Sandpoint's Utara Brewing still is lining up a location for its planned British-style ale and curry house.   

• North of Sandpoint, Laughing Dog anticipates an April Fool’s Day opening (for reals) for the taproom at the expanded production facility it moved into last summer. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the release of a new The Dogs of Helles golden lager next month.  

Daft Badger has added two more styles to its bottled lineup: Hoppypotamus Pale and the bourbon barrel-aged version of Josiah’s Revenge imperial stout. Look for the 22-ounce bombers in the taproom and at Pilgrim’s in Coeur d’Alene and Enoteca in Post Falls.  

• Bellwether has scheduled an Old World Winter Feast for Feb. 26 in conjunction with Christopher’s Catering. Such fare as goose leg and rabbit stew will be served with historically themed beers including a big (18 percent ABV) Abbey-style ale made with grape juice and aged on raisins. Tickets are $70 (includes tax and tip).

• And if you still haven’t made your Valentine’s Day dinner plans, Iron Goat is offering a heart-shaped pizza for two and a pair of pints – plus a tea light and fake rose – for $25 (no reservations necessary).

Your weekly planner

UPDATES SATURDAY 2/11

Twelve String is serving a cask-conditioned version of its High Note black IPA with extra Citra hops.

No-Li today taps a limited-release Raspberry Rise & Grind coffee milk stout.

 

UPDATES FRIDAY 2/10

– River City's Randall for the weekend is Girlfriend Golden through strawberries and mint.

Downdraft tonight taps a small-batch Grapefruit IPA.

Daft Badger is pouring a blueberry-infused Blue Velvet.

 

UPDATES WEDNESDAY 2/8

– The Lantern Tap House hosts a Dogfish Head tap takeover Thursday from 5 to 10, with seven offerings: the 60 and 90 Minute, oak-aged Burton Baton imperial and lemon/blood orange Flesh & Blood IPAs, plus the Festina Peche (Berliner Weisse), Indian Brown Ale and Beer For Breakfast coffee/maple/scrapple stout. Get four 4-ounce tasters plus a pint of your favorite for $8 and keep the glass.  

– A Dogfish Head tasting Friday from 5 to 7 at the North Spokane Growler Guys will include the 60, 90 and 120 Minute IPAs plus the Beer For Breakfast and World Wide stouts.  

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

TUESDAY

River City hosts a benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Northwest, which will receive $1 from every pint sold between 3 and 9 p.m.

– Puyallup River Brewing will be featured in a tap takeover at Geno's starting at 6, with giveaways and raffles.

WEDNESDAY

Pilgrim's presents a free tasting with Boise's Edge Brewing starting at 3:30 including Hop Kiss dry-hopped session ale, Obligatory Double IPA, barrel-aged Blackwater imperial stout and 7 BBL Project barleywine.

– No-Li is the featured brewery for this month's fried chicken beer dinner at Yards Bruncheon in Kendall Yards starting at 6, presented by The Wandering Table. Get the family-style meal plus pours of Red, White & No-Li pale, Slacker orange/vanilla ale and Crony brown for $35 (includes tax and tip); call (509) 443-4410 for reservations.

– An Iron Goat dinner starting at 6:30 at Clover will pair six of the brewery's beers – Blackberry Apricot Sour, Trashy Blonde, Mosaic IPA, Head Butt IPA, Cherry Chocolate Stout and Gruff Goats Tripel – with accompanying courses. Cost is $69; for reservations, call (509) 487-2937.

THURSDAY

MickDuff's is donating $2.50 from every pint of Idaho Arm Curl Lager sold between 6 and 9, and $1 from other beer sales, to the Idaho chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, along with live music and a short video.

SATURDAY

– Sorry, this year's Palouse Cabin Fever Brew Fest is sold out (though you can seek or sell already purchased tickets here).

SUNDAY

– Bellwether hosts a Share the Love art show from 6 to 9 to benefit Cup of Cool Water, a Christian nonprofit that works with homeless youth; admission is $15, which includes three tasters and a pint plus live music, appetizers and a raffle.

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

Global village

Sierra Nevada is taking its Beer Camp Across America concept across the ocean.

It debuted in 2014 as a mixed 12-pack of collaborations with brewers around the country. Last year’s encore featured six beers from groups of partner breweries nationwide, including Moxee-Moron Imperial Session IPA from a Northwest team led by Yakima’s Bale Breaker.

Now comes Beer Camp Across the World, which will again involve a dozen collaborative brews: six with other U.S. breweries (including Bend hop gods Boneyard), and six with brewers from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, England, New Zealand and Japan, featuring such well-known names as Ayinger, Duvel, Fuller’s and Mikkeller.

It’s a logical step for Sierra Nevada, which has released Oktoberfest collaborations with German breweries the past two autumns.

According to a sneak preview by All About Beer magazine, the new Beer Camp lineup will include:

• Ginger Lager with Surly (Minnesota).

• Thai-Style Iced Tea with Mikkeller (Denmark).

• Raspberry Sundae with The Bruery (California).

• Dry-Hopped Berliner Weisse with Saint Arnold (Texas).

• Dunkel Weisse with Ayinger (Germany).

• Hoppy Belgian-Style Golden Ale with Duvel (Belgium).

• Atlantic Vintage Ale with Fuller’s (England).

• White IPA with Kiuchi (Japan).

• East Meets West IPA with Tree House (Massachusetts).

• West Coast Double IPA with Boneyard (Oregon).

• A smoked Campout Porter with Garage Project (New Zealand).

• Dry-Hopped Barleywine with Avery (Colorado).

Look for this year’s variety pack in June, at a suggested retail of $25. As usual, a series of festivals showcasing the beers will take place across the U.S. this summer.

Your weekly roundup

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

• Newly licensed Four-Eyed Guys, a distribution-only nanobrewery, has set its first beer releases for Valentine's Day. Hoptometry IPA goes on tap at Hop Jack's in Spokane Valley starting at 11 a.m., and a Love at First Sight lager infused with chocolate and roses at Left Bank Wine Bar beginning at 4; also look for the latter at Black Label and Steady Flow Growler House.   

• Selkirk Abbey has launched a mug club called the College of Cardinals. For a $60 annual fee, you get an array of discounts and specials on drinks, growler fills and merchandise, plus custom member glasses and a T-shirt; if you move quickly, you might get a taste of a special beer.

• Wallace Brewing won a gold medal for its 1910 Black Lager in the fourth annual Best of Craft Beer Awards judging in Bend. Representing Eastern Washington in the Oregon-dominated competition was Icicle Brewing, which took silver for its Scotch-style Copper Ale and bronze for Drumfire dark lager.

• Local cooking teacher and food writer David Ross has contributed a Crispy Fried Asian Chicken Wings recipe to Craftbeer.com using Red, White & No-Li pale ale. 

• Finally, it comes as no surprise, but the Spokane Brewers Festival is gearing up for a second annual event this August at the Spokane Arena, according to new postings on its website and Facebook page. 

Super friends

With the countdown to kickoff for Super Bowl LI upon us, here's a look at what local breweries are doing to help you enjoy the big game:

Iron Goat is taking $2 off growler fills all day Sunday starting at 11 a.m.

– Daft Badger also is offering $10 fills when it opens at 11, along with $3 pints and half-off appetizers for those who stick around.

– Get a growler fill for $10 plus a free pint at Perry Street on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The taproom closes after that to prepare for the its second annual Super Bowl party starting at 2, which includes a 20-ounce commemorative glass and your first fill plus a smorgasbord for $35 (seats still available at last report).

Downdaft is open from noon to 2 for growler fills, then competes against Ballast Point in its own big beer game at Taphouse Unchained in Coeur d'Alene. 

– Post Falls Brewing hosts a Super Bowl potluck from noon to 6 with $1 off pints plus trivia and games at halftime.

– V Twin's Super Bowl potluck starting Sunday at 1 will feature $4 pints ($3 on Wheat Glide, plus $8 growler fills) along with games and prizes (chili/corn muffins/desserts provided, bring something to share if you want). 

– The Steel Barrel's Super Bowl party Sunday starting at 3 will include $2 off drinks when your team is ahead and you're wearing their colors (no fair switching sides midgame); nachos will be available from neighboring Zona Blanca.

– Downtown, Black Label and the Steam Plant, both usually open on Sundays, are closed for game day.

Three-dog day

In dog years, English Setter Brewing now is old enough to legally drink.

The Spokane Valley brewpub celebrates its third anniversary Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m. with beer and food specials, merchandise giveaways and live country-style music by Jesse Quandt at 6:30.

“There’s a little bit of everything,” owner/brewer Jeff Bendio says. “It’s just going to be an all-day party.”

Look for a sneak preview of Bendio’s latest creation, Rescue Pup Porter, brewed with orange, hazelnut and chocolate.  That’s a littermate to his popular Puppy For Christmas orange/chocolate porter, which is on its last legs for this season.

There also will be a fresh batch of Break Off the Line, a vanilla-bourbon stout that Bendio recently revamped for a bigger middle with some raisin/fig sweetness.

“Everybody was panicky, you can’t change the recipe,” he says. “Then the new batch came out and they said, don’t ever change this.”

Bendio may even pull out his Randall for a flavor-infused version of the sessionable Busted ESB (4.3 percent alcohol by volume).

He’s planning a tangerine-finished Busted for a spring seasonal – which he expects may not be that far off, despite what the groundhog says. “The trees outside the brewery are completely budded,” he says. “I think they know something I don’t.”

Bendio has added a few new beers to the regular rotation over the past year, including a Cascadian dark ale dubbed Black Labs Matter and the Who’s a Good Boy amber, which alternates with the bigger, drier Chukar Nose.

He likes rotating different takes on similar styles, and a modest three-barrel brewing system, which turns out six kegs at a time, gives him the flexibility to keep things moving.

“Nothing is on for very long before the next beer comes up,” Bendio says. “People want different styles of beer coming in. They don’t have to be radically different every time but they want some different flavors rolling through.”

So far, it seems to be working. Business was up 20 percent last year, he says, on top of a 30 percent increase in year two. Bendio recently installed a third infrared convection oven to keep up with food demand, and wired for a fourth when needed.

“It’s just going great guns,” he says. “A lot of people are starting to discover us and saying, that’s a great place to have a beer.”

If growth continues, Bendio talks of buying land for a new brewery in the Valley to replace the current location, a former Caruso’s sandwich shop near the Spokane Business and Industrial Park.

However, he adds, “We’re not in any rush to do that. We’re going to let the patronage make that decision for us.” 

Your weekly planner

UPDATE FRIDAY 2/3

River City is serving a firkin of RIver City Red with coconut for First Friday, along with a Randall of Huckleberry Ale through blueberries, blackberries and lemon zest. 

– Iron Goat is pouring a pre-Valentine Chocolate Raspberry Pale Ale

 

UPDATES THURSDAY 2/2

Paradise Creek today releases the Triple Paradise IPA (7.9 percent alcohol by volume, 101 International Bitterness Units) that it brewed for this month's Washington Hop Mob events in Seattle, fermented with Belgian yeast and hopped with Amarillo, Falconers Flight and Sorachi Ace.   

No-Li is offering a free Old Town Portland pint glass with beer purchases on Thursday nights this month.

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 1/31

– Perry Street has tapped a big Black IPA (8.1 percent alcohol by volume) brewed with a touch of rye flakes.

– Yakima Craft Brewing visits the North Spokane Growler Guys on Friday from 5 to 7 with beer specials and prizes.

– V Twin's Super Bowl potluck starting Sunday at 1 will feature $4 pints ($3 on Wheat Glide) along with games and prizes (chili/corn muffins/desserts provided). 

– The Steel Barrel's Super Bowl party starting at 3 will include $2 off drinks when your team is ahead (and you're wearing their colors).

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– No-Li is selling specially designed "Spokane Has Heart" T-shirts today and Tuesday from 9 a.m to 6 p.m. to benefit a Spokane Valley family whose 3-year-old daughter died in a house fire; cost is $40, with all proceeds going to the family's GoFundMe account.

Downdraft is offering 20 percent off growler fills all week in advance of the Super Bowl.

WEDNESDAY

Pilgrim's presents a free Ballast Point tasting starting at 3:30, including Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, the El Dorado and new Manta Ray double IPAs, Barmy strong golden ale with apricots and honey, Nitro Red Velvet chocolate/beet oatmeal porter and Peppermint Victory at Sea imperial porter.

– Bellwether's Gruitfest from 5 to 9 celebrates International Gruit Day with six versions of the ancient herbed, hopless beer style: a collaboration with Whistle Punk, Young Buck and Republic Brewing, plus individual offerings from Bellwether, Whistle Punk, Republic, Big Barn and Iron Goat. Get a souvenir glass and seven sample pours for $20 (limited to first 75 customers).

THURSDAY

Nectar Wine and Beer in Kendall Yards welcomes Crux Fermentation Project as its February brewery of the month, with Pilz pilsner, Off Leash session IPA, French Connection imperial IPA, PCT Porter, Brewdeck Series Hopped Scotch Ale and Doublecross Belgian strong dark ale on tap; get a flight of all six for $10 at a kickoff party from 6 to 8, with a brewery rep and swag. 

FRIDAY

– Pilgrim's presents a free Super Bowl Beers tasting starting at 3:30 including Deschutes Pacific Wonderland lager, Wallace 6:60 India pale lager, Hop Concept Citra & Azacca IPA and Rogue Double Chocolate Stout.

– Downdraft’s Valentine-themed First Friday party from 7 to 10 includes two small-batch releases – Blood Orange IPA and Heartbreaker Habanero Raspberry Stout – plus live music by Sam Leyde and food from Las Brasas Mexican Grill.

– Badass hosts its first Brews and Laughs live comedy night from 7 to 9.

SATURDAY

– Nu Home Brew's free monthly brewing class from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. will cover the California Common (aka "steam beer") style. 

– English Setter's third anniversary party starting at 11:30 a.m. features beer and food specials plus prizes and live music.

– Northern Ales in Kettle Falls hosts its annual Foodstock music festival starting at 2 to benefit the local Community Chest food bank.

Big Barn is donating $1 from every pint sold between 3 and 5 to a local family who lost their home in a fire.  

Black Label showcases its coffee beers – a new Coffee Cream Ale brewed for neighboring Saranac Public House plus the Coffee Amber and Indaba stouts – in a release party starting at 5; get a flight of 5-ounce tasters for $5. 

– Chewelah's 15th annual Cork and Keg beginning at 7 at the Civic Center includes wine and beer tasting plus appetizers and a silent auction for $35, to support local Lions Club community programs.  

SUNDAY

– Perry Street's second annual Super Bowl party includes a 20-ounce commemorative glass and your first fill plus a smorgasbord for $35 (reservations required).

– Post Falls Brewing hosts a Super Bowl potluck from noon to 6 with $1 off pints plus trivia and games at halftime.

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

Gruit basket

In today’s IPA-crazed climate, it’s hard to imagine a time when beer was brewed without hops. But hopless, herbed and spiced ales – called gruits (rhymes with “fruits”) – were common throughout most of European history.

While they faded from favor for reasons ranging from hops’ supposedly superior preservative properties to religious/sexual politics, a smattering of traditionally minded brewers still are keeping the category alive.

Spokane’s Bellwether, which specializes in Old World styles, has regularly served gruits since opening in September 2015. Its rye gruit jointly brewed with Mad Bomber was one of the featured collaborations for last year’s Spokane Craft Beer Week.

The real local coming out party is tomorrow, when Bellwether celebrates International Gruit Day with its first Gruitfest. The centerpiece is another collaboration, this time with Young Buck, Whistle Punk and Republic Brewing. Bellwether, Whistle Punk and Republic also will pour their own separate interpretations, as will Big Barn and Iron Goat.

The $20 tasting package includes a commemorative glass (pictured above) and seven 6-ounce pours (each of the featured gruits, plus an extra of your favorite). Doors open at 3 p.m., with other brewers expected to arrive around 5 for the official start of the festivities.

The variety among their offerings is impressive. Like sours, gruits aren’t so much a style unto themselves as a broader concept that can be applied across the beer spectrum.

“Dark or light, high ABV or low ABV, instead of hops, put in a mixture of herbs and spices and you’ve got a gruit ale,” says Bellwether brewer/co-owner Thomas Croskrey. “And the whole scope of herbs and spices that are available makes it limitless.”

The new, complex collaboration – dubbed We Are Gruit (a comic-book movie reference) – is a dark mild, just under 5 percent alcohol by volume, made with wormwood, yarrow, lemongrass, lemon verbena, smoked chili flakes, rosemary, heather, horehound and spruce.

It’s a full batch brewed on Young Buck’s seven-barrel system, so look for it to show up on other taps around town. The others are small batches made specially for tomorrow’s event.

Croskrey cooked up an amber with birch bark and leaves, cardamom and black pepper. Whistle Punk produced a delicate saison with wormwood, lemon verbena, basil, hibiscus flowers and spruce, while Republic is bringing a hearty winter warmer with hyssop, black pepper, cardamom and yarrow.    

Big Barn’s contribution is a dark, rich beer brewed with smoked and peated malts and finished with spruce tips. Owner/brewer Craig Deitz is so satisfied with how it turned out that he’s considering a fresh spruce Scotch ale next fall using the Christmas trees he grows at his Green Bluff farm.

As for Iron Goat, co-owner/brewer Greg Brandt says, “We wanted to make ours taste as much like a hopped beer as we could.” Over a pale ale base, that involved passion fruit for tropical yet dank aroma and flavor, and a bark tea for bitterness.

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