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Avista preview: Tops of the hops

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

The Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival returns to Avista Stadium this weekend during the heart of fresh-hop season, and there will be no shortage of offerings for lupulin lovers.

This year’s lineup includes close to 20 beers brewed with freshly harvested hops, along with an array of other IPAs and pales among the almost 200 selections on tap Friday and Saturday:

Fresh sheet: Look for Centennial versions from Two Beers (6.2 percent alcohol by volume) and Dru Bru (7), an Amarillo/Centennial blend by Waddell’s (6.2) and straight Amarillo interpretations from Perry Street (5.5), Boundary Bay (6), Reuben’s (6) and Schooner Exact (6). Fremont is bringing its Centennial and Amarillo Field to Ferment releases plus the always-popular Cowiche Canyon organic blend (all 6).

Big Barn’s Midnight Harvest (6) is a black IPA brewed with Centennial, Cascade and Chinook from its first full-scale hop crop on the Green Bluff farm. Badass Backyard has homegrown hops in its Harju (5.6) and Young Buck uses local hops in its partially fresh-hopped Warp 4 (6.4), the latest in an experimental IPA series.

Simcoe stars in Twelve String’s session IPA (5), Paradise Creek’s Alpha Madness (6.8) and Blewett’s double IPA (9.5), while this year’s River City Funkadelicious (5.8) features Citra. And Perry Street has fresh-hopped the latest in its yearlong New England IPA series (6) with Simcoe and Loral.       

East Coast mentality: Hazy, juicy New England-inspired IPAs are the hottest style around these days, and a few more have made the Avista roster. Look for Reuben’s Nelson Crush (6), with winey Nelson Sauvin hops; Silver City’s Tropic Haze (6.4); Whistle Punk’s Cryo Hopped (7.1), with Mosaic, Citra and Simcoe hop powder; and Fremont’s Ales for ALS version (7.2), using a special hop blend for the benefit project.   

More experiments: Other adventurous approaches include Schooner Exact’s Wa’ Dat? (4.5), a dry-hopped blend of an IPA and a kettle sour; Iron Goat’s Blood Orange India pale lager (4.7), brewed with the winner of a homebrew contest; Steam Plant’s Boiler 5 Red IPA (5), using local Palouse Pint malt; and Bale Breaker’s Bale Finder collaboration with Founders (6.5), featuring experimental hop HBC 522.

Read full post ›

Your weekly planner

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

WEDNESDAY

– Icicle launches its North Idaho distribution with a release party from 5 to 8 at Enoteca featuring Crosscut Pilsner, Dirty Face Amber, Bootjack IPA and Dark Persuasion.

– Ninkasi beers will pour during a fundraiser for the Festival at Sandpoint's Charley Packard Memorial Scholarship Fund from 5 to 8 at Idaho Pour Authority.

– Perry Street has a release party starting at 6 for its BodhizafaLite collaboration with Georgetown, a mashup of Perry's Session IPL and Georgetown's Bodhizafa IPA (both of which won gold medals at last year's Great American Beer Festival).

THURSDAY

Crafted Tap House welcomes Reuben's to North Idaho from 5 to 8 with the Gose, Amarillo Fresh Hop, Crikey IPA, Life on Mars imperial IPA, Roasted Rye and Imperial Pumpkin on tap. 

– Waddell's releases this year's Amarillo/Centennial fresh hop IPA and Imperial Alligator Oatmeal Stout from 6 to 8 at Nectar Wine and Beer in Kendall Yards, with Brute Squad Imperial IPA also on tap.

– Five German-style beers from Laughing Dog will be featured in an Oktoberfest Beer Cruise on Lake Coeur d'Alene from 7 to 9 along with live music and food for sale; tickets are $20.

– Perry Street taps two fresh hop beers – an Amarillo pale and a Loral/Simcoe New England IPA – along with a traditional Oktoberfest lager for the first day of its Hoptoberfest from 2 to 10. A $25 advance payment gets you a 34-ounce mug, your first fill and a Bavarian hat..

FRIDAY

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

– This year's Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival, featuring 41 breweries from throughout Washington state, opens with a 21-and-over night from 4 to 9; tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, which includes your first six 5-ounce pours.

– Coeur d’Alene's Oktoberfest opens from 4 to 9 p.m. with more than 30 beers and ciders pouring at locations throughout downtown, plus live music; tickets are $25 with a 16-ounce tasting glass or $35 with a 22-ounce ceramic stein (includes your first two fills). 

Bottles hosts a Big Barn tasting starting at 5, with food available from Tony's BBQ.

SATURDAY

– The Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival continues with an all-ages day from noon to 7.

– The Coeur d'Alene Oktoberfest continues from noon to 9.

– Bombastic will pour three fruited Dazzle wits – blood orange, tart cherry and plum – at North Idaho Cider's Okotoberfest from noon to 8 to benefit the Kootenai Humane Society. Bottles of the Hayden brewery's Murder imperial stout also will be for sale while supplies last.  

– Beers from the Steam Plant and other local breweries will be on tap for the third annual Blues & Brews Festival from 1 to 7 in Steam Plant Square, with three blues acts and food from the Crate and Mixed Plate trucks; admission is free, pay for food and beer as you go.

– Ten Pin Brewing is featured for Music, Micros and BBQ at the Coeur d'Alene Casino from 5 to 9, with music by the Dimestore Prophets at 6; all-you-can-eat barbecue costs $18.

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

Your weekly roundup

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

Snow Eater, a new brewery planned for Liberty Lake, on Friday took delivery of its 10-barrel brewing system.

Owners Richard and Erin Whitney originally intended to open in the Tri-Cities but couldn't find a suitable location. They now plan to build in the McKenzie Business Park, off Knox Avenue west of the Quality Inn, and hope to open by year's end if they obtain permits in time to pour concrete this fall.

Snow Eater, named after the Native American term for spring Chinook winds, will produce a range of stronger beers (6 to 10 percent alcohol by volume) that often will include experimental ingredients.

Bellwether on Thursday received two 3.5-barrel fermenters and a bright tank as part of its upgrade from the current 1.5-barrel brewing system. Those will be used in a pilot brewing setup for experiments and blending, with a new main 10-barrel system scheduled for installation in mid-November.

Bellwether is buying its building at 2019 N. Monroe and moving production into the space next to the current brewery, along with an expanded taproom (and possibly a small kitchen), outdoor beer garden and parking.

• An early heads-up on a pair of events next week: Perry Street will release its BodhizafaLite collaboration with Georgetown on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The beer is a mashup of Perry's Session IPL and Georgetown's Bodhizafa IPA, both of which won gold medals at last year's Great American Beer Festival.

And the Inland Northwest Beer Choir is resuming its monthly gatherings starting Monday from 6:30 to 8 at Black Label; come prepared to drink and sing.

• No-Li has announced the first two beers for its FrostFest small-batch festival Dec. 9 at the Spokane Arena: a spiced 'Tis the Saison red saison and a Tritamorphosis Barley Wine brewed with locally grown and malted triticale. Tickets (which must be purchased in advance) are $30 through TicketsWest

• Bombastic is taking online orders for a limited bottle release of its Murder imperial stout, brewed with vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, Ancho chilies and cayenne; bottles will be available for pickup at the Hayden brewery next Saturday.  

• Finally, Daft Badger received a nice mention in a New York Times travel piece about an Inland Northwest fishing trip, which singled out the Coeur d'Alene brewpub's popular Blood Orange IPA.           

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

SATURDAY

– Daft Badger's End of Summer Celebration from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. will feature live music, German-style food and two special beer releases: a traditional Oktoberfest lager and a bourbon barrel-aged imperial cherry stout.

– The Lantern Tap House's fourth annual Sour Fest continues from 2 to 10, with 15 sours on tap plus live music at 9.

– Community Pint's Jones Radiator Weekend honors the popular bar that formerly occupied its space, with special beers and discounts for customers who wear their old Jones gear or bring their mugs. 

‚Äč– River City's Randall for the weekend is Afternoon IPA infused with Lord Bergamot tea.– No-Li's pub specialties include RGV2, an oatier, creamier version of Rise & Grind coffee milk stout, and the pistachio-infused Nutty Professor brown.
 
– Whistle Punk's Reverse Coast to Coast IPA is a mirror image of their regular soft, juicy New England-style IPA, with hops added at the beginning of the brewing process instead of the end for maximum bitterness.
 
– Selkirk Abbey has tapped a smooth Belgian-style strong dark ale called Mercy.
 
– The seasonal I-Peach-A is back at 238 on Green Bluff.
 
– Beers from Iron Goat (including a Helles and Back collaboration with brewery-in-progress Knucklehead), Badass Backyard, Whistle Punk and Mad Bomber will pour for the 12th annual POW MIA Fundraiser and Ride presented by the Combat Vet Riders motorcyle club; proceeds support area veterans.
 

SUNDAY

– Iron Goat has its annual Spohop party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to collect homegrown hops for a community fresh-hop beer; those who bring hops or help pick them off the bines will get half-price pints of the finished product.

Sour you in September

If it’s mid-September, that must mean sour beer time at The Lantern Tap House.

The South Perry pub’s fourth annual Sours ‘n September festival runs Friday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 2 to 10, with a dozen  or more different sours on tap in the outdoor beer garden each day and two more inside.

The lineup includes a pair of limited barrel-aged offerings from Spokane breweries. Iron Goat on Saturday debuts its Brett d’Or du Claret (7 percent alcohol by volume), a blend of golden ales fermented for two and four years in Barrister merlot and cabernet franc barrels with crushed wine grapes. After this, the rest will go into bottles.

And Young Buck on Friday brings its Cab Savvy sour saison (7), which spends two years in cabernet sauvignon barrels before being finished with apricot puree.

Among other locals, also look for Paradise Creek’s Huckleberry Pucker (4.6) on Friday, and Laughing Dog’s De Achste Hond peach sour (7.2), No-Li's guava/blueberry Unbreakable Imperial Sour (7.8) and Waddell’s Blackberry Sour (6) on Saturday.

The rest of the lineup includes:

FRIDAY

– Almanac’s spiced Pumpkin Pie de Brettaville (7)

– Anderson Valley’s lemon/juniper G&T Gose (4.2)

– Breakside Passionfruit (5)

– Deschutes Cultivateur oak-aged saison (8)

– Dogfish Head Festina Peche (4.5)

– Firestone Walker’s Bretta Weisse (4.9) and lambic-style Sour Opal (6.8)

– Founders Green Zebra watermelon gose (4.6)

– Grand Teton Flanders Brown (8.4)

– North Coast Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse (4.1)

– Silver Moon’s cherry/lavender Barrel-Aged Elf (5.6)

– Uinta Hopscursion Brett IPA (6.5)

SATURDAY

– Avery Ginger Sour (6)

– Boulevard’s dry-hopped Saison Brett (8.5)

– Crux’s Flanders-style Better Off Red (7)

– Fort George’s Sucker Punch kettle sour (4.1)

– Georgetown’s Boots, Berry & Murray raspberry gose (3.1)

– Grand Teton’s 2017 American Sour (8.5) and 2015 chardonnay barrel-aged version (8.2)

– New Belgium’s cherry-infused Transatlantique Kriek (8)

– Ommegang Pale Sour (6.9)

– pFriem Oude Kriek (5.6)

– Reuben’s dark rye Kentucky Common (5)

Tasting tokens will cost $1 each; you can get a 5-ounce pour for two to four tokens, depending on the beer, or a 10-ounce pour for four to eight.

Bottled sours also will be available inside including Avery's 2015 Fortuna, Firestone Walker's 2015 Agrestic, Fort George's Shady Grove, Mikkeller's Spontangreenapple, Reuben's Gose and VanderGhinste's Oude Bruin.   

There will be music and games in the outdoor tent, and live music inside each night at 9 by Tyler Aker on Friday and Lavoy on Saturday.

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Barn hopping

Clockwise, from lower left: Green Bluff's Big Barn Brewing is harvesting the first crop from its new two-acre hop field; owner Craig Deitz (right) and Dakota Bauman run cut hop bines through a harvester to separate the cones; Bauman feeds dried hops into a pelletizer. 

Big Barn, like most local breweries, is knee-deep into fresh-hop season. But unlike most of the others, it only has to go into its back yard to get them.

The Green Bluff brewery, on the Bodacious Berries and Fruit farm, has started the first commercial harvest of its new two-acre hop field.

Four of the varieties being grown – Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Willamette (the other is Styrian Golding) – will go into a fresh-hop Cascadian dark ale dubbed Midnight Harvest.

But most of the crop is being dried, pelletized, vacuum-sealed and frozen to supply Big Barn with the bulk of its hop needs over the coming year.

“We should get close to 1,000 pounds this year,” says Craig Deitz, who owns the brewery and farm with his wife, Jane. “It’s not a ton, but it’s a good start.”

That could provide as much as 80 percent of Big Barn’s annual hop bill, with enough left over to start selling to other area breweries, he says. The Steam Plant and Bellwether already have come by to collect some for their fresh-hop beers.

Eventually, with room for expansion, “We could have 10 acres of hops here,” Deitz says.

Big Barn previously used some homegrown hops from a half-acre pilot patch (which unfortunately fell prey to dust mites this summer), but this is its first large-scale harvest.

After being cut, the hop bines (as the vines are called) are run through a harvester to separate the cones. Big Barn bought its Hopster harvester from Columbia Bines in Moses Lake, which upgraded to a larger model.

The hops are then dried – some in a hand-built dryer borrowed from Newport’s Top Frog Brewery, others on window screens – before being run through a pelletizer to condense them for storage.

The harvest is expected to last another week or two. “We can only go so fast because of our equipment,” Jane Deitz says.

And afterwards, on Sept. 30 from 2 to 6 p.m., Big Barn is hosting a fresh-hop beer festival, “High Hopes for High Hops.” Bellwether, the Steam Plant and Top Frog have signed on so far along with Badass Backyard, Black Label, English Setter and Hopped Up, plus Green Bluff neighbor Twilight Cider Works, which is bringing a hopped cider.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, which includes five beer tokens and a bratwurst with sides. Proceeds support the Green Bluff Lions Club’s community projects for people in need.

Fresh-hopping around: Among other news from the fresh-hop front:

Twelve String taps its first offering of the season, a Simcoe IPA, on Friday.

Iron Goat has its annual Spohop party Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to collect homegrown hops for a community fresh-hop beer. 

Waddell’s releases its Centennial/Amarillo version Sept. 21 at Nectar Wine and Beer.

– A Fremont fresh hop festival Oct. 13 at The Steel Barrel will feature the Seattle brewery's Field to Ferment and Cowiche Canyon lines along with other area examples.

– And Dru Bru at Snoqualmie Pass has partnered with Yakima’s Cornerstone Ranches hop farm – both owned by Gonzaga University graduates – for a Zag-Grown, Zag-Bru’d fresh hop beer (featuring Centennial) that comes out Friday. Look for that one to pour around town, including the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival next week.

Your weekend planner

A look at the upcoming weekend in local craft beer:

FRIDAY

– Bottles hosts an Icicle Brewing tasting starting at 5 including Crosscut Pilsner, Kickstand Pale, Dirtyface Amber, Bootjack IPA and Dark Persuasion.  

– The North Spokane Growler Guys has a Founders tasting from 5 to 7.

– Bring a donation of new school supplies to get $1 off your first pint for Downdraft's Back 2 School First Friday, with live music at 7 and food from Las Brasas Mexican Grill.

Mad Bomber has tapped its Octoberfest Ale.

– The No-Li pub is pouring Blackfill 2.0, the Wrecking Ball imperial stout aged for two years in Dry Fly wheat whiskey barrels.

– Twelve String is serving some of last year's reserve Roundabout Confusion harvest ale.

– Bellwether has released a small-batch Mint Pale Ale.

– Slate Creek is seeking homegrown hops for a community fresh-hop brew.

SATURDAY

– An Endless Summer Party from 5 to 9 at Capone's in Coeur d'Alene will feature beers from Firestone Walker, Georgetown, Grand Teton, Laughing Dog, New Belgium and Ninkasi plus prizes, music and food,  

SUNDAY

– Capone's in Hayden has an NFL kickoff party from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring Ninkasi beers.

Taking the plunge

Mountain Lakes Brewing is preparing to test the commercial waters.

Spokane’s next nanobrewery hopes to open as soon as December downtown at the corner of Riverside and Browne. (Sign up for the mailing list on the brewery website for progress updates).

“We’re just two guys taking their hobby to the next level,” says Dave Basaraba, who’s launching the project with business and brewing partner Tim Hilton.

Both grew up in craft beer strongholds, Basaraba in Portland and Hilton in Boston. Both gained greater appreciation for beer’s ability to bring people together, Basaraba while studying abroad in Europe and Hilton while working in a homebrew store.

“What really attracted us to brewing was the community aspect,” Hilton says.

After each ended up in Spokane, they met and began exploring their shared passion. Homebrewing grew from the garage into a business plan that started taking shape two years ago, leading to a serious search for a location over the past year.

They landed at 201 W. Riverside, a cozy brick-walled, tin-ceilinged spot next to the Lion’s Lair bar that was formerly occupied by Puffin Glass Studios. With state and federal permits in process, they hope to begin renovations next month.

The only thing missing, Basaraba jokes, was a canoe already hanging from the ceiling. “We’ll have to bring our own,” he says.

Outdoor adventure will be the theme for the brewery, which takes its name from a 1920s-era promotional postcard Hilton found that reads, “50 mountain lakes welcome you to Spokane.”

The beer will flow from a combination of three one-barrel systems, providing the flexibility to brew a wide range of styles. Regular offerings on the planned 12 taps will include the likes of an IPA, porter, possibly a golden or wheat beer balanced by something bigger such as a doppelbock or double IPA, fruit and spiced beers and typically a lager.

Brewing equipment will be integrated into the taproom space. “We want people to see where the beer is being brewed and make them part of that process,” says Hilton.

“It’s always cool to go to a brewery and meet the brewers,” he says. “With us, you’re not going to have a choice. We’ll be pouring your beer and washing your dishes.”

Your weekly roundup

Catching up with more local craft beer news over this holiday weekend:

• With Monday marking the unofficial end of summer, breweries and beer bars have been busy announcing events for fall:

– "Hoptoberfest" is to craft beer as "Rocktoberfest" is to classic rock radio, and two area celebrations are coming up under that name: at Perry Street on Sept. 21-22, with German-style and other beer specials plus accompanying food (advance payment of $25 gets you a souvenir 34-ounce mug, your first fill and a Bavarian-style hat); and at MickDuff's Beer Hall in Sandpoint on Sept. 30, with four special releases – two fresh-hop ales (Amarillo and community-sourced), Mashing Pumpkin and a RoggenFest Rye Ale collaboration with Paragon – plus live music and games.

Post Falls Brewing's more traditionally titled Oktoberfest on Sept. 30 weighs in with a Dr. Roktober Festbier plus other beer and Summit Cider specials, food trucks and live music. And Daft Badger gets things rolling with its End of Summer Celebration on Sept. 16, featuring two special beers – an Oktoberfest lager and bourbon barrel-aged imperial cherry stout – along with music and German-style food.

– On the alehouse front, The Blackbird Invitational on Oct. 14 will feature sour, fresh-hop, barrel-aged and other specialty beers from breweries including Cascade, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, Fremont, Grand Teton, pFriem and Young Buck. Tickets are limited and on sale now; for $50, you get a souvenir Silipint silicone glass, 15 drink tokens (good for 2 to 4 ounces each) and appetizers.

And on Sept. 25, The Flying Goat hosts its first-ever sours event with nine offerings from Firestone Walker, Grand Teton and New Belgium.

– Looking ahead to December, in addition to No-Li's previously announced FrostFest small-batch festival Dec. 9 (which is moving this year to the Spokane Arena concourse), River City brings back its third annual International Marmot Beer Festival on Dec. 2, with several variations on the seasonal Midnight Marmot imperial stout.

• September's arrival also means fresh hop season is in full swing. Local offerings in the works so far include a Citra-hopped Funkadelicious from River City; a Centennial/Amarillo combo by Waddell's; an Amarillo from Perry Street, to be followed by a fresh-hop entry in its New England-style IPA series; and a Simcoe IPA from Twelve String, with a reddish Mosaic version also on the way.  

• Bellwether's Scots Bere barley project wrapped up on Thursday, capping a five-week series of small-batch beers made with the locally grown and malted ancient grain. The winner in the crowd favorite voting was Bochet Braggot, with blueberries, juniper berries and burned, caramelized honey; a full batch of that will be brewed for release this winter.

In the meantime, Bellwether will pour what's left of those small-batch beers at the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival on Sept. 22-23. And on Nov. 11, it's planning a landrace grain event featuring beers brewed with Scots Bere, Purple Egyptian and other ancient varieties by Bellwether and six guest breweries, including a collaboration.

• The downtown brewery district is gaining a fruity new neighbor. One Tree's Cider House has its grand opening Friday at 111 S. Madison, across the street from The Steel Barrel and around the corner from Orlison's tasting room.

• Finally, on a farther-flung note, the No-Li crew is headed to Ireland for brewery tours and an appearance at the Irish Craft Beer Festival in Dublin next weekend. Spokane's largest brewery is one of 15 nationwide selected for the trip by the American Brewers Association.      

Your weekend planner

A look at the holiday weekend in local craft beer:

FRIDAY

– More than 100 regional beers and ciders will pour for Schweitzer Mountain Resort's 25th annual Fall Fest from Friday through Monday, along with live music; tasting packages range from $15 to $40. 

SATURDAY

Community Pint is donating $1 from every pint and growler fill sold during the day to support RedRover, which helps animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey.

– Through Tuesday, Manito Tap House and The Blackbird will donate $1 from every pint sold of Red, White & No-Li pale to the American Red Cross for Harvey relief, with the brewery matching the donations. 

Selkirk Abbey is contributing $1 from every pint sold through Sept. 10 to flood relief efforts. 

– Beerocracy and New Belgium each are donating $1 from every pint of the brewery's Transatlantique Kriek sour sold at the Garland District pub.

SUNDAY

Bellwether is inviting everyone to bring homegrown herbs and spices to a Grui-It Ourselves harvest party and brew day from 2  to 4 p.m. The community gruit (herbed beer) will be released for the brewery's second anniversary Sept. 29.

– The new "Think Beer" radio show, hosted by River City brewer Todd Grove, debuts at 5 p.m. on KYRS-FM (88.1/92.3).  

Think beer, hear beer

Craft beer returns to the local radio airwaves this weekend.

“Think Beer,” an hourlong program hosted by River City head brewer Todd Grove, debuts Sunday at 5 p.m. on KYRS-FM (88.1 or 92.3 on your dial).

It follows a former KYRS show, “Good Brews” by assistant River City brewer Adam Boyd, that aired in the same time slot for two years, ending in April. That has morphed into an occasional online live feed/podcast.

Grove says he plans to talk to everyone from brewers (professional and amateur) to bartenders to chefs, about topics including beer styles, history, techniques, ingredients and food pairings.

“I’m really looking forward to having casual long-form discussions with people and keeping it fun,” he says. “Lots of it will be live broadcasts that encourage lively discussion.

“I’m mostly looking for an excuse to have beers with people in the community and do it in a way that others get something out of it.”

Grove is one of six Certified Cicerones in the Spokane area, meaning he has completed an intensive training program and test about all aspects of beer.

Homegrown gruit

This time of year, it’s common for breweries to seek backyard crops for community fresh-hop brews (like the call New Boundary just issued).

Now Bellwether – which specializes in old-world styles including gruits, which are herbed, often hopless beers – is taking that a step further.

The North Spokane brewery is inviting gardeners to bring homegrown herbs and spices to Sunday’s Gru-It Ourselves harvest party and brew day from 2 to 4 p.m. Hops are welcome as well, along with fruit and vegetable greens and even weeds.

Those will be tossed into a mass brew that will be released for Bellwether’s second anniversary Sept. 29. There will be discounted pints during Sunday’s event and goodies for those who bring in their bounty.

There are a few qualifiers: Your contributions must be identifiable (by sight or smell) and not sprayed with pesticides. And there’s no guarantee everything collected will be used in the beer; it does need to be drinkable, after all.

"It's a little bit of an experiment," Bellwether's Thomas Croskrey says. "I hope people don't get too personally attached if something they bring in is too weird, or if they think that it's edible but it turns out to be toxic."

And some herbs need to be added later in the brewing process to preserve their character, he says, like basil. "It turns out like spinach if it's boiled too long," Croskrey says.

"We're keeping a light-hearted attitude about it," he says. "We'll see how it goes. If it goes well, we'll do it again next year."

Summer into fall

More than 100 regional beers and ciders will pour for the 25th annual Fall Fest this weekend at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

This year’s event at the Sandpoint-area resort has been extended to four days, from Friday through the Monday holiday.  And there’s an expanded layout for the drinks tent (also including wine), food court, soda tent, kids’ activities, arts and crafts vendors and the music stage, with 11 bands performing through the weekend.

Beer tasting packages with souvenir glassware range from $15 for a five-ounce taster and four fills, to $40 for an 18-ounce copper mug and three fills; those can be pre-ordered online (plus fees) through midnight today, and will be sold onsite while supplies last. Extra drink tokens will be available for sale, and you can skip the packages and just buy tokens to get your beers poured in a regular plastic glass.

Beer tent hours are Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Here’s the posted tap list (subject to change):

Alaskan: White Wheat, Big Mountain pale

Alpine: Duet and Windows Up IPAs

Bale Breaker: Field 41 pale, Dormancy stout

Ballast Point: Dead Ringer Oktoberfest, Sculpin IPA

Barley Brown’s: Saison, Point Blank red

Bayern: Pilsener, Dragon’s Breath dunkelweizen

Big Sky: Shake a Day IPA, Slow Elk stout

Black Raven: Kitty Kat Blues blueberry pale, Coco Jones coconut porter

Boise Brewing: Burn One Down brown, Black Cliffs stout

Read full post ›

Your weekly roundup

Catching up with the latest craft beer news from around the Northwest:

• Fresh hop season has officially arrived with Wednesday's taproom release by Seattle's Two Beers, always an early bird in this much-anticipated category. Look for that one to show up soon here in cans and on draft, and for a whole slew of counterparts to follow including several local versions (we hear Perry Street will be doing one as part of its hazy New England IPA series).

• Ninkasi is joining the growing wave of brewers putting their beer in cans. The Eugene brewery announced it will release three yet-undisclosed offerings in 12-ounce cans early next year; according to Brewbound, that means 45 of the nation's largest 50 craft breweries will be canning.

• Missoula's Big Sky has launched GRIZ Montana Lager as an officially licensed beer for the University of Montana (where the brewery was birthed by a pair of business school students). Plans call for regional distribution including Washington and Idaho.

• While no Spokane breweries will be pouring at this fall's Great American Beer Festival for the first time in recent memory, the just-released list does include Pullman's Paradise Creek and Moscow's Rants & Raves.

• Finally, Dick Cantwell, the longtime Seattle brewing fixture who left Elysian in the wake of its sale to Anheuser-Busch two years ago, is back in the beer business: He's joined with Colorado's New Belgium and Belgium's Oud Beersell to purchase a bankrupt San Francisco brewery, Magnolia Brewing Company. They plan to expand on Magnolia's traditional English-centric lineup with new offerings including sours blended with authentic lambics from Oud Beersell.

Your weekend planner

SATURDAY

– Day two of Steady Flow Growler House's second anniversary celebration includes merchandise giveaways for the first 25 people through the door starting at 11, growler fill discounts and a parking lot party featuring a special Paradise Creek beer release along with games and prizes including a "golden growler" raffle at 5.

– Laughing Dog's 12th anniversary party from noon to 8 features an anniversary nut brown ale, the Old Tin Can burger truck, music by Harold’s IGA and a bicycle raffle to benefit Panhandle Animal Shelter.

– Hopped Up presents its fifth annual Art, Music and Beer Festival from 1 to 10 with arts and crafts vendors, food from the Mustard’s Last Stand and Tacos Tijuana trucks and music by Random Generation at 2, Sean Behrens and Nick Nelson at 4, Slightly Committed at 6 and Dreamtime with the Devadasi belly dancers at 8.

– Orlison marks the second anniversary of its downtown taproom from 2 to 9 with new beer releases, prize raffles, cornhole games and the Shameless Sausages truck.

– The Inland Northwest Home Brewers Conference from 4 to 8 p.m. at Coeur d’Alene’s Elk Point event center will feature brewing presentations, local beers for sale, cigars, food and live music; admission is $10.

Whistle Punk has tapped the second in a series of single-hop IPAs made with powdered lupulin, this time Mosaic.

– The latest in a series of hazy, juicy New England-style IPAs at Perry Street (Generation 12) is a fresh batch of the previous recipe, hopped with Mosaic, Citra and Simcoe.

– River City's Randall for the weekend is a Golden Mojito (Girlfriend Golden through fresh limes and mint).

Twelve String has four barrel-aged beers on tap: Gin Grapefruit Golden Strong Ale, Cabernet Porter, Barili Port Stout and Bourbon Drop DD Double Stout.

Selkirk Abbey is pouring the final keg of its Scotch ale, Grace.