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Rising Orlison

The past year has seen Orlison Brewing make a couple of major moves to up its game.

Last August, the Airway Heights-based brewery opened a taproom in downtown Spokane.  And after specializing in lagers since launching in 2009 (originally as Golden Hills), it started adding ales to the mix to broaden its appeal.

Both some new ales and some special lagers will be pouring for the taproom’s first anniversary party Saturday from 2 to 9 p.m.

Two new test-batch ales will be on tap – Devil’s Toenail double IPA (named after a rock feature on the Spokane River) and Half-Day Imperial Chocolate Stout – along with revised versions of two former offerings, Weekend at Bernie’s IPA (honoring brewmaster Bernie Duenwald) and Palouse Pint Pale Ale, made with locally produced malt.

Lager fans can look for Havanuther light pilsner infused with grapefruit zest, a dry-hopped IPL (India pale lager) and some barrel-aged selections.

There also will be food, music by singer/guitarist Jake Johnson at 4 and raffle drawings for prizes including lift tickets to Mount Spokane and 49 Degrees North, day passes to Wild Walls Climbing Gym, a stainless steel Hydro Flask growler and pint glasses, and brewery hats and shirts. 

“It’s helped people discover us,” Orlison’s operations manager, Kristen Silver, says of the taproom at 1017 W. First Ave., in the former Luxe Coffee House space. “Being out in Airway Heights, people didn’t really know who we were. It’s given us the home base that we needed.”

With 16 taps to play with, it also has provided a place to test new recipes for customer feedback, including the ale series by head brewer Blaine Serrin. Serrin, who came on board in March, previously brewed at Mack & Jack’s in Redmond, Washington and Salmon River in McCall, Idaho.

The first full-production ale, a year-round Shin Splints IPA, debuted in April followed by seasonal offerings Orangelicious Golden Ale and the newly released Boulder Garden Brown.

“It’s kind of evened out our portfolio, made us more popular with the general public,” Silver says. “The people who found our ales are now finding our lagers, and the people who have known our lagers have been finding our ales.”

The Palouse Pint pale and imperial stout are in line for future full releases along with a red ale and an ESB.

On the lager side, original flagship Clem’s Gold and the IPL will continue year-round. Havanuther is moving to the seasonal lineup, joining the likes of the Asian-inspired Toasted Dragon (brewed with Thai basil, lime, ginger and Szechuan peppercorns) and Roast House coffee stout.

And there’s another new twist: house-made root beer and cream soda, for the non-alcoholic crowd. The root beer also will be served Saturday, but leave the kids at home; the taproom is 21 and older only.         

Your weekly planner

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 8/24

– The North Spokane Growler Guys hosts a Lagunitas tasting today from 5 to 8 including Maximus imperial IPA, Lucky 13 imperial red and Wilco Tango Foxtrot imperial brown.   

– This week's Wednesday small-batch pour at Daft Badger is a Raspberry Lemonade Pilsner subtly flavored with fresh berries and lemon juice.

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– This week's featured beer at Twelve String is the final keg of Tricky SIMphony, a Simcoe-hopped Cascadian dark ale collaboration with Trickster's; get $4 pints and $9 growler fills while it lasts.

WEDNESDAY

– Pilgrim's presents a free Fish Brewing tasting starting at 3:30 featuring the Beyond Pale Ale and organic Amber and IPA, plus sister brewery Leavenworth's Whistling Pig Hefeweizen and Spire Mountain Apple Cider.

THURSDAY

– Bellwether hosts a pint night to benefit Project Hope Spokane, with $1 from every pint sold supporting the organization that provides job training (including urban gardening and lawn care) for youths in the West Central and Emerson Garfield neighborhoods.

– Dogfish Head's 60, 90 and 120 Minute IPAs will be featured in a tasting from 5 to 7 at the Flying Goat.

– Several barrel-aged and small-batch beers from Grand Teton will pour at Pints Alehouse from 5 to 9, with a brewery rep on hand, including whiskey barrel-aged Black Cauldron imperial stout; wine barrel-aged Farmhouse Ale and XX Bitch Creek double ESB; Cowboy Breakfast Stout aged with bacon, milk sugar and espresso; and oak-aged Oud Bruin, plus Gose, Pilot IPA Batch 14 and Double Vision Doppelbock.

FRIDAY

– Fish Brewing will be in the house from 4 to 7 for a tasting at the Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys.

– The South Spokane Growler Guys welcomes Ninaski for a tasting from 4 to 7.

 SATURDAY

– MickDuff's Bikes, Blues & Brews motorcycle show and rally from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. will include live music and pizza along with the Bull River Loop ride,

– Laughing Dog celebrates its 11th anniversary with a party at its new production facility (and soon-to-be taproom) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with live music, games, food and a light Helles lager brewed specially for the occasion. 

– Mad Bomber has a release party for its new single-hop Centennial IPA from noon to 4, along with gelato from 4th and Main Pizza in Spirit Lake.  

– Orlison observes the first anniversary of its downtown taproom from 2 to 9 with some special beers – including a pale ale made with locally produced Palouse Pint malt, imperial chocolate stout, double IPA, grapefruit-infused Havanuther pilsner, dry-hopped India pale lager and a few barrel-aged selections – plus prize raffles, live music and food.

– River City beers will be pouring for a Welcome Back Students parking lot party at Pizza Pipeline on North Division from 5:30 to 8:30 along with live music, games, pizza specials, swag giveaways and a raffle for a brewery tour.

– The Lantern Tap House wraps up its summer concert series with $4 Firestone Walker pints and music by Little Wolf at 9.

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

Your weekly roundup

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

– An old No-Li brewing tank will be used to give a new look to a downtown freeway exit.

The brewery donated the 30-barrel stainless steel fermenter to the City of Spokane for the project. Plans call for having an artist cut a design into the tank and then illuminating it from inside to “basically act as a lantern,” says Laura Becker, executive director of Spokane Arts.

It will be installed in a median along the Lincoln Street off-ramp to “provide a focal point of interest as you come off the freeway,” she says. “If it’s your first introduction to Spokane, it’s a better suggestion of what’s going on here, the brewing happening here, the artistry, the industry.”

No artist has been selected for the project, which should be finished sometime in the next year, Becker says.

– Chewelah’s Quartzite Brewing has upped its game with the installation of a two-barrel brewing system, doubling its capacity. That will allow the six-month-old brewery to better keep up with demand; its IPA went on tap this week for the first time in more than a month.

– If you’ll be in town for Labor Day weekend, mark your calendar for a three-day first-anniversary celebration at Steady Flow Growler House in the Spokane Valley. The schedule includes a One Tree hard cider tap takeover Friday, a parking lot party Saturday featuring a special firkin from Paradise Creek, and an Elysian/Lagunitas tap takeover Sunday.

– And yes, alas, talk of Labor Day means summer is indeed almost over – as you may have gathered from all the Oktoberfest and other fall seasonals that have been making appearances at area stores. The Steam Plant will tap its own Oktoberfest lager Sept. 2, while Perry Street’s annual Oktoberfest party returns Sept. 22-23 (keep an eye out for further details).   

Two for the flow

The waning days of summer bring the return of a pair of familiar festivals on Saturday:

– Hopped Up’s fourth annual Art, Music and Beer Festival, from 1 to 9:30 at the Spokane Valley brewery, features more than two dozen artist and vendor booths plus live bands, food trucks and beer specials.

Along with the regular tap lineup inside – including lemon and mulberry versions of the Cream Ale, Palouse Pale made with locally malted barley and Pogue Mahone Irish cream stout on nitro – there will be four special pours on the patio: aged apricot and fresh raspberry sours, Orange Vanilla Porter and a reserve keg of last winter’s Destroy My Sweater seasonal. The house-made root beer also will be served for the all-ages event, which will feature face painting.

The music lineup includes the Spokane Drum Circle at 1, No Going Back Band at 2:30, Wyatt Wood at 4, T and The Beav at 5:30 and the Schrag Deal Road Band at 7:30, along with a fire spinner performance at dusk. Eats will be provided by the Mac Daddy’s and Mustard’s Last Stand trucks.

– More music and beer are in the works for the 23rd Brewsfest at Silver Mountain Resort near Kellogg. Gates open at 1 and taps close at 5:30, with the gondola starting to load at 9:30 a.m.

Look for 40 beers from 20 breweries including Ballast Point, Big Sky, Brickyard, Downdraft, Elysian, Firestone Walker, Fremont, Grand Teton, Hop Valley, Mad Bomber, Ninkasi, No-Li, North Idaho Mountain, Odell, Orlison, River City, Slate Creek and 10 Barrel.

Aftermath plays at 1 followed by 4 More at 3:30, and the Sara Brown Trio at the afterparty in the Gondola Village at 6.

Tickets are $29.95 in advance, $34.95 at the gate, which includes a tasting mug and your first six drink tickets. Get a mountain biking pass for another $15.  

Your weekly planner

UPDATE FRIDAY 8/19

– Orlison today taps a firkin of Two Finger Pour, modeled after an Old Fashioned cocktail, over bruleed oranges.

– Perry Street is pouring a single keg of Tart Saison aged on nectarines from the neighborhood farmers market.

 

UPDATE THURSDAY 8/18

– Trickster's hosts Bulldog Pipe & Cigar for a pairing event Saturday from 2 to 8 featuring a cask-conditioned Daedric Druid Stout over cocoa nibs,vanilla and oak, with Pop's Smokin' It BBQ on hand until 7.

 

UPDATES WEDNESDAY 8/17

– A chardonnay barrel-aged Badgers Bounty IPA is today's weekly small-batch release at Daft Badger.

– Bellwether brings back its Second Breakfast hefeweizen and FIbber McGee's IPA (version IX, dry-hopped with Amarillo) on Thursday, with the CRATE food truck on hand from 5 to 8.

– The Monstrosity IPA has returned to Black Label at 9.8 percent ABV.

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 8/16

– The River City brewer's dinner originally scheduled for Wednesday at The Blackbird has been postponed and will be rescheduled later.

– New Boundary has postponed its luau previously scheduled for Saturday at the Cheney brewery.

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– Electric Slide Imperial IPA is the beer of the week at Twelve String, with discount pints and growler fills.

TUESDAY

– Orlison's monthly community pint night benefits Liberty Park Child Development Center, which will receive $1 from every pint sold between 5 and 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

– Pilgrim's presents a free Twelve String tasting starting at 3:30, with Mambo Mango hefeweizen, Red Guitar Red, Batch 201 IPA and Drop D Stout.

SATURDAY

–  Hopped Up's fourth annual Art, Music and Beer festival from 1 to 9:30 features artists' displays and vendors plus food trucks, bands, beer specials and fire dancers at dark.

– Twenty breweries and three live bands are on tap for Silver Mountain's annual summer Brewsfest starting at 1 p.m.; tickets are $29.95 in advance, $34.95 at the gate, which includes a tasting mug and six drink tickets.

– The Lantern Tap House's summer concert series continues with $4 Paradise Creek pints and live music by Andy Rumsey at 9.

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

Reaching new heights?

To me, the words “Rainier” and “ale” have always conjured memories of the infamous Green Death – in particular, its mass consumption at a certain backyard shed sleepover (long story, wrong blog).

Now comes Rainier Pale Mountain Ale, inspired by a post-Prohibition recipe, the latest offering from an iconic Northwest brand that’s currently owned by Pabst and produced in California.

The new ale (5.3 percent alcohol by volume, 28 International Bitterness Units) is the first beer brewed by Rainier in Washington since 2003 (the original brewery closed in 1999). The brewing takes place at the Redhook/Craft Brew Alliance facility in Woodinville, which Pabst has an option to buy – a distinct possibility since much of Redhook’s West Coast production has moved to the Widmer/CBA brewery in Portland, with sales for both brands slumping.

Pale Mountain Ale comes in six-packs of pounders, an old Rainier tradition, at a decidedly newfangled price point of $12. It’s not a bad beer to look at, with its rich amber color (akin to an English-style pale) and respectable head retention and lacing.

Its body is lighter and crisper than the color might suggest. The flavor is malt-forward and moderately sweet up front, with some earthy Fuggle hop presence in the middle before finishing on the sweeter side. Some tasters have compared it to a rounder German altbier, brewed with ale yeast but cold-conditioned like a lager (think Alaskan Amber).

All in all, it tastes more crafty than craft. But it’s certainly a step forward from the Green Death days; we can almost hear those Mountain Fresh Rainiers rumbling in the distance … 

Your weekly roundup

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

– Now that you’ve had your fill of the first Spokane Brewers Festival, get ready for the return of the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival.

Tickets just went on sale for the seventh annual event, which will be back at Avista Stadium Sept. 23-24 with 38 breweries from throughout Washington – up from last year’s 30 – along with food trucks and live music.

Of those, 14 are newcomers from last year. Along with Spokane’s Bellwether, Kettle Falls’ Northern Ales, Yakima’s Bale Breaker and Waitsburg’s Laht Neppur, they include 7 Seas (Gig Harbor), Cash (Silverdale), Crucible (Everett), Elysian (Seattle), Everybody’s (White Salmon), Island Hoppin’ (Eastsound), Lowercase (Seattle), Puyallup River (Puyallup), Silver City (Silverdale) and Wingman (Tacoma).

In another new twist, Saturday’s session will be all-ages this year, with free admission for ages 21 and under accompanied by a ticketed parent or guardian. Tickets again are $20 in advance ($25 at the door), which includes your first six five-ounce pours.

– Speaking of festivals, a trio of first-timers will represent the Inland Northwest at this year’s Great American Beer Festival: Waddell’s from Spokane, and two of North Idaho’s newest breweries, Post Falls Brewing and Moscow’s Rants & Raves.

The 35th annual event, the nation’s largest craft beer gathering with more than 800 participating breweries, takes place Oct. 6-8 in Denver; tickets are sold out.

– Yoke’s Fresh Markets has filed state liquor license applications for growler sales at three more area stores: the former Trading Company locations at 13014 E. Sprague in Spokane Valley, 4235 S. Cheney-Spokane Road in Latah Creek and 4 Cheney-Spokane Road in Cheney.

That follows the success of the chain’s first growler station at the Mead store, which has been serving local and regional beers from its eight taps for about a month. 

Hoppy Trail

The Spokane Brewers Festival isn’t the only big beer game around the area this weekend.

The fourth annual Ales for the Trail, on Saturday from 2 to 8 in downtown Coeur d’Alene’s McEuen Park, features 26 breweries from the region and beyond (up from last year’s 16) to benefit the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation.

That includes 10 from North Idaho – Daft Badger, Downdraft, Kootenai River, Laughing Dog, Mad Bomber, Post Falls, Rants & Raves, Selkirk Abbey, Slate Creek and Trickster’s – plus Boise Brewing and Grand Teton from the southern part of the state.

There’s also Eastern Washington’s Bale Breaker, No-Li, Orlison, Paradise Creek and River City; Montana’s Great Northern; and Ballast Point, Deschutes, Elysian, Georgetown, Goose Island, New Belgium, Ninkasi and 10 Barrel. North Idaho Cider also will be on hand. 

For food, there’s the Edelwagen, Wurst Man in Town, Auggies Drivin Diner and Smok’n Mikes Barbecue trucks plus Sweet Peaks Ice Cream; kids are allowed in the company of a legal guardian. Live music will be provided by The Rub and Strange Brew.  

Your first six 5-ounce drink tickets are included in the $30 admission (additional tickets $2 each). The first 500 people to register get a stainless steel pint glass; ride your bike to the event and be eligible for prize drawings.

Prepared to pour

UPDATE FRIDAY 8/12: 238 Brewing has pulled out of the festival because of cooler issues at the brewery.

 

Six weeks ago, Spokane Arena organizers were busy lining up participants for their just-announced, first-ever Spokane Brewers Festival.

When the taps start flowing Friday at 3 p.m., 35 regional breweries and cideries will be pouring in the parking lot along with food vendors and live music. The festival continues Saturday starting at noon, with things wrapping up at 9 both days.

“I’m so happy it’s come together as well as it has,” says Matt Gibson, the Arena’s general manager, who figured he would be lucky to get 20. “It really just amazes me that we’ve had such great feedback, participation and support from all these breweries.”

The lineup includes 17 of the 22 operating breweries in Spokane County: Badass Backyard, Bellwether, Bennidito’s, Big Barn, Black Label, English Setter, Hopped Up, Iron Goat, Little Spokane, New Boundary, No-Li, Orlison, Perry Street, River City, Steam Plant, Waddell’s and Young Buck.

They’re joined by Eastern Washington’s Icicle (Leavenworth), Iron Horse (Ellensburg), Laht Neppur (Waitsburg), Northern (Kettle Falls), Paradise Creek (Pullman), St. Brigid’s and Ten Pin (Moses Lake), Top Frog (Newport) and Yakima Craft; North Idaho’s Downdraft and Post Falls (Post Falls), Rants & Raves (Moscow) and Slate Creek (Coeur d’Alene); farther-flung 54˚40’ from Washougal, Wash. and Ordnance from Boardman, Ore.; and the cideries, D’s Wicked (Kennewick) and One Tree (Spokane Valley).

Each will start with two offerings on tap, with a third in reserve in case one of the others runs out. The beer list runs the gamut from fruit beers and sours to porters and stouts, with plenty of IPAs in between.

“There’s a wide range, more than I thought we were going to get,” Gibson says.

For sour fans, the opening lineup includes Paradise Creek’s Huckleberry Pucker Shandy, Waddell’s Blackberry Sour and Young Buck’s Raspberry Berliner Weisse, with 54˚40’s cranberry/cherry Pretty in Pink, Iron Goat’s Blackberry Apricot Sour and the Steam Plant’s Wild Strawberry Sour ready on the bench.

Also for fruitier tastes are Big Barn’s Apricot Wit, Badass Backyard’s Daring Diva Razz Wheat, Downdraft’s lemony Lemmy Weizenheimer, English Setter’s orange/grapefruit Citrus Setter, Laht Neppur’s Peach Hefeweizen, Ordnance’s Bloops Blueberry Wheat, Orlison’s Orangelicious Golden Ale, St. Brigid’s Grapefruit Explosion, Steam Plant’s Blood Orange Ale, Ten Pin’s Groove Pineapple Wheat and New Boundary’s Lemon Kick hard lemonade.

On the darker side, there’s the likes of Hopped Up's Irish Cream Stout, Big Barn’s applewood-accented Mt. Smoke Porter, Icicle’s coconut-spiked Dark Persuasion German Chocolate Cake Ale, Iron Goat’s smooth Goatmeal Stout, Little Spokane’s lighter Bulk Bin Porter (plus a raspberry version) and Top Frog’s hoppy Poison Dart Porter.

Those IPAs include Young Buck’s brand-new, lightly oaked Cascadia IPA, Bellwether’s braggot Honey Hop, Bennidito’s Truancy Double IPA, Perry Street’s Single Malt IPA and Post Falls Brewing’s Stoney MacGuyver, among many others.

Also look for an assortment of kolsches, reds, browns, Scottish ales and the like. No-Li is bringing three beers prepared specially for the festival: Royal Slacker with double the orange and vanilla, a peach/cherry Cherry Bomb Big Juicy IPA and Mint Chocolate Chip Rise & Grind coffee milk stout.

Like the event’s inspiration, Portland’s venerable Oregon Brewers Festival, there’s no admission fee; you buy a tasting mug for $7 (good for both days) and pay for drink tokens as you go ($1 each, with a 2-ounce pour for one token or 10 ounces for five).

Along with the beer and cider, River City is serving its root beer, which will be free for kids (allowed if accompanied by a parent) and designated drivers, and $1 per pour for other drinkers.

Food will be provided by Azar’s and the Thai Lunch Box and Fork in the Road trucks, with additional treats from Black Fire Kettle Corn, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Pete & Belle’s Ice Cream.

You also can bring your own food and non-alcoholic beverages, like water – which wouldn’t be a bad idea, since the asphalt will heat up fast from the forecast 90-degree temperatures. (There also will be drinkable water at the cup-rinsing stations, and bottled water for sale.)

Tents with attached misters should help keep things cool, Gibson says. And anyway, he adds, “I’d like to think that the people who enjoy these festivals are sort of weather-resistant.”

Your weekly planner

UPDATE FRIDAY 8/12

– Hopped Up has tapped a Mulberry Cream Ale made with fresh local berries.

 

UPDATES THURSDAY 8/11

– Daft Badger on Friday is pouring a sneak preview of its new All Hucked Up huckleberry ale, which will be on tap for Saturday's Ales for the Trails in Coeur d'Alene.

– Perry Street is serving a new Palouse Amber made with locally produced Palouse Pint English pale and Munich malts.

– Mad Bomber releases this month's Action Comics cover print today with beer specials all day and an artist signing from 5 to 7.

 

UPDATES WEDNESDAY 8/10

– Today's weekly small-batch release at Daft Badger is a chardonnay barrel-aged Raspberry Cream Ale.

– Bellwether will pour a pair of bottle-conditioned, lightly sour gruit ales Thursday, with the Crate food truck on hand from 5 to 8.

– Grand Teton comes to Crafted Tap House for a tap takeover Thursday at 6.  

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– The beer of the week at Twelve String is C#7#5 IPA, with $4 pints and $9 growler fills. 

– Georgetown is this month's brewery at the Hayden Capone's, with pint purchases earning raffle tickets toward merchandise, while Big Sky is featured at the Post Falls Capone's.  

TUESDAY

– Georgetown visits Steady Flow Growler House for a four-tap pint night from 5 to 7, featuring L.A. Woman Crystal Kolsch, Johnny Utah single-hop Citra pale, Lily double IPA and Gusto Crema Coffee Ale.

WEDNESDAY

– The Steel Barrel hosts an Ecliptic tap takeover starting at 6, with Zenith Grapefruit Gose, Callisto Tripel with Blackcurrants, Hopservatory Tropical Imperial IPA and Oort Imperial Stout.

– Tickets still are available for Northern Quest's monthly brewer's dinner at 6, featuring Wallace Brewing's Idaho Select Lager, 1910 Black Lager and Huckleberry Shandy paired with three food courses; cost is $40, call (509) 481-2122.  

– A new Inland Northwest Beer Choir chapter holds its first event from 7 to 8:30 at the Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys; anyone 21 and older is welcome to come and join in traditional and original drinking songs.

FRIDAY

– The inaugural Spokane Brewers Festival runs Friday from 3 to 9 and Saturday from noon to 9 in the Spokane Arena parking lot, featuring 35 regional breweries and cideries plus food and live music. There's no admission fee; get a tasting mug for $7 and drink tokens for $1 each (2-ounce pours for one token, 10-ounce pours for five).

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys welcomes River City from 4 to 7 for a tasting of Huckleberry Ale, Girlfriend Golden, Clocktower Imperial IPA, VB Stout and River City Root Beer.

SATURDAY

– The fourth annual Ales For the Trail, to benefit the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation, runs from 2 to 8 in Coeur d'Alene's McEuen Park with 25 area breweries plus food and live music; tickets are $30, which includes six 5-ounce drink tickets.

– This month's Music, Micros and BBQ at the Coeur d'Alene Casino highlights Southern Idaho breweries, with all-you-can eat barbecue from 5 to 9 p.m. for $18 and live music from 7 to 10.

– The Lantern Tap House's Summer Concert Series continues with Grand Teton pint specials and live music by The Thomsen Boys at 9.

– Zythum celebrates brewer/owner Shawn Carney's 50th birthday with live music and food (including cake, of course). 

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

Raise a glass, and your voice

If you like to sing in the shower, and drink beer … well, anywhere, this event is for you.

The first gathering of the Inland Northwest chapter of Beer Choir takes place Wednesday from 7 to 8:30 at the Coeur d’Alene Growler Guys. Everyone is invited to join in the suds and song.

Beer Choir is the brainchild of Michael Engelhardt, a Kansas City choral composer. Its website lists a dozen chapters across the country, including Seattle and Richland.

Local organizer Max Mendez – a baritone well-known for his performances around the area and choir director at North Idaho College – got hooked on the idea at last year’s American Choral Directors Association national conference in Salt Lake City, where Engelhardt led a session.

“It was an amazing group of 50 choral directors hanging out, having a beer and singing,” Mendez says. “I’m all about community singing, and I like beer, so the combination is a no-brainer.”

It’s also natural, he adds: “This is the way people used to socialize. You go to Ireland, music is everywhere, people are singing in the pubs. You set aside your differences when you sing together.”

Beer Choir events are based around an 11-song hymnal prepared by Engelhardt, which includes traditional German, English and Irish drinking ditties as well as his own “Beer Choir Theme Song” and arrangement of “Dough-Ray-Me”: “Dough, the stuff that buys me beer, Ray, the guy who serves my beer …”

Mendez isn’t sure how many people will show up tomorrow night, but 35 already have indicated on Facebook that they’re going and another 78 say they’re interested.

“I told Growler Guys it could be 10 or 15, or it could be 100,” he says. “We’ll see.”

While several pros from the local music community will be on hand, Mendez stresses that all are welcome. “My hope is that people will come and not be intimidated,” he says.

The 90-minute time frame allows for plenty of socializing between tunes, Mendez says, but doesn’t run too long: “It gives people a chance to go out on a weeknight and get home early enough that they don’t feel it the next day.”

You don’t have to drink beer – gluten-free beer, hard cider, kombucha and root beer also will be available – though you do have to be 21 or older to enter the premises.

Mendez plans to expand the monthly gatherings to more taphouses around Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, and hopes the repertoire will grow beyond the initial 11 songs, with other people taking leadership roles as well.

“For me, those are going to be the special moments, when the chapter becomes its own,” he says.

Your weekly roundup

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

– No-Li may have hosted its last Brewsday Tuesday this week, but we’re assured small-batch releases will continue at the pub along with special events – such as the Ale-Lympics the next two Tuesdays, in honor of the Rio games. Stop by to try your hand at Putt-Skee (pictured), Plinko, Ring & Hook and two more contests TBA.

– The Lantern Tap House, meanwhile, is offering $4 Beer Valley pints during the actual Olympics, through Aug. 21.

– The Blackbird presents a five-course River City brewer's dinner Aug. 17, including pairings with the Gose-Way, Inconceivable Imperial Pilsner, Tart Saison and raspberry Midnight Marmot, plus a Congratulator Doppelbock granita. Cost is $60, including tax and tip; only 26 spots are available, call (509) 392-4000 for reservations.

– Next weekend’s inaugural Spokane Brewers Festival has announced four more participating breweries: Bennidito’s Brewpub, Yakima Craft and a pair of farther-flung entrants, Washougal’s 54-50 and Boardman’s Ordnance. That brings the brewery total to 33, plus two cideries (D’s Wicked and the newly announced One Tree).

– If you happen to be in the Moscow area and are heading to the festival, Rants & Raves is offering a party bus trip next Saturday. The $25 fee includes three 8-ounce beers on the way up, so you’ll be properly lubricated when you arrive; call (208) 596-4061 for reservations.

– In sadder news from there, community craft beer pioneer Moscow Brewing is selling off assorted equipment and supplies during Saturdays in August after failing to find a buyer to keep the doors open.

– In the ever-changing hours department, Orlison’s taproom now is opening two hours later Tuesday through Thursday, at 4 p.m., but will continue to open at 2 on Friday and Saturday.

– Finally, the Craft Brew Alliance reports a record 6 percent earnings boost for the second quarter of 2016, thanks to a 24 percent increase in Kona shipments – though Widmer and Redhook were down 16 and 27 percent, respectively. Aloha ‘Oe?        

Your weekend planner

Updating your local craft beer options for this weekend:

TODAY

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys hosts Great Northern for a tasting from 4 to 7 featuring Wheat Fish Hefeweizen, Huckleberry Ale, 1933 Pilsner and Fata Morgana Belgian-style strong dark.

– A new adult beverage garden at Coeur d'Alene's Art on the Green Friday through Sunday will feature beers from Mad Bomber and Slate Creek along with Summit Cider and local wines, while local beers also are promised for the nearby Taste of Coeur d'Alene in City Park.

– Bellwether and English Setter beers (plus One Tree cider) will pour for the Barefoot in the Park festival Friday and Saturday at Liberty Lake's Pavillion Park.

– River City's Girlfriend Golden, River City Red and Clocktower Imperial IPA will pour in a First Friday tap takeover at Bon Bon, with prize raffles plus bingo at 8.

– The Steel Barrel is serving some new house beers for First Friday – including an unfiltered, hop-forward, copper-colored Cool Hweat (think Family Guy) from Little Spokane and a lightly tart small-batch Peach Sour from Young Buck – along with cocktail specials and a shuffleboard tournament for prizes. 

– Orlison has tapped its latest large-batch ale, Boulder Garden Brown, while on the bigger, darker side, Post Falls Brewing offers a new Big Jilm Imperial Porter and Selkirk Abbey the return of its biennial 10° Belgian-style quadruple.

SATURDAY

– The Lantern's summer concert series continues with Beer Valley pint specials and music by DJ Lydell at 9 (bring vinyl to play and receive happy hour pricing).

– Seattle-area podcaster Mike Rizzo will sign copies of his new book "Washington Beer: A Heady History of Evergreen State Brewing" on Saturday at 7 at Black Label, and on Sunday at 5 at Iron Goat.

A day for IPA

Everyone always snickers when National Beer Day rolls around – after all, isn’t that every day? – and today’s sixth annual National IPA Day might seem almost as redundant.

The hophead’s catnip continues to dominate the craft beer market, accounting for close to 30 percent of sales last year.  Low-octane session IPAs are particularly hot, with their numbers tripling, according to the Brewers Association.

But like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it is an occasion to stop and appreciate something that’s often taken for granted. (Though unlike those holidays, there are opposing viewpoints).

While we haven’t heard much about official events around the area (yet, anyway – brewers are notoriously last-minute with their announcements), here are a few ideas for celebrating locally (keep checking back for updates):

– River City is offering $1 pints and $10 growler fills of its three IPAs on tap – Riverkeeper regular and nitro, and guest handle Backwoods Logyard IPA – plus special pricing on kegs to go.  

– Selkirk Abbey also has pint and growler discounts on its Belgian-style Infidel IPA.

– Bellwether today tapped a Honey Hop braggot IPA (8 percent alcohol by volume) with a mixture of U.S. and English varietals.

– Bennidito’s Brewpub has just tapped a Truancy Double IPA honoring the 20th anniversary of its sister establishment, the original Bennidito’s Pizza. Brewed as a collaboration with Seattle’s Schooner Exact – which sold Bennidito’s its old brewhouse – the big beer (8.2 percent ABV, 87 International Bitterness Units) is generously hopped with Mosaic and Simcoe.

– For something a little different, the gin barrel-aged Head Butt IPA from Iron Goat takes on an entirely different character thanks to the aromatics from the barrel; in case it’s out at the taproom, we hear that The Blackbird just snagged a keg. And for purists, you can’t go wrong with the Goat’s recently released Mosaic IPA (5.2, 72), bright and summery with earthy notes underpinning the pronounced fruitiness.

– Twelve String's newly bottled Batch 201 IPA is starting to show up in stores (got mine today at Rocket Market).

– Wiggly Butt IPA (6.6, 69) has just gone back on tap at English Setter, joining its three other littermates: Over/Under (4.9, 85), Side by Side (5.7, 101) and Wild Flush (6.5, 117).

 However you choose to worship, the Brewers Association suggests adding the #IPAday hashtag to social media posts. Oh, and by the way, it's also National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day – though I'm not sure how well that pairing will work.

Twelve into 22

After more than two years of planning, Twelve String has made its move to 22-ounce bottles.

Bombers of the brewery’s Mango Mambo fruit hefeweizen, Red Guitar Red (formerly Valley Red), Batch 201 IPA, Electric Slide imperial IPA and Drop D Stout went on sale today at the taproom. They're also starting to show up at area Yoke’s and Rosauers supermarkets as well as Huckleberry’s, Bottles and more specialty stores to come.  

 “It’s kind of the next phase in this business, in my opinion,” says owner/brewer Terry Hackler. “I see inventory numbers for other breweries that I feel we’re similar to, and things look promising.

“Part of the thing that’s taken so long is that we want to make sure we can back up the first batch we send (the distributor) before it runs out,” he adds. “Right now, I’m just brewing as fast as I can. I’ve got to keep up with the draft, too.”

Twelve String recently added enough tanks to boost its annual production capacity from 1,200 barrels to around 2,000. Hackler figures about half that extra beer will end up in bottles.

He also added another brewer, Tanner McKinley, who has packaging experience from his time with Nevada’s High Sierra Brewing.

“I feel very fortunate to have hired him,” Hackler says. “He helped out a huge amount getting this whole thing off the ground.

“It was kind of a learning curve getting our bottling machine dialed in, but I think we’ve got it figured out now. We’re averaging 13 seconds per bottle, which is flying for a two-head bottler.”

Along with the regular lineup, Hackler plans to bottle a few specialties for taproom-only sales, including some barrel-aged offerings.