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Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend's happenings in local craft beer:

FRIDAY

– Cole's Bakery & Cafe presents a Ground Breaker night from 4 to 7 with gluten-free beers from the Portland brewery (made from chestnuts, lentils and brown rice) and accompanying small bites incorporating them.

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys hosts a Laughing Dog tap takeover from 4 to 7 featuring De Achtste Hond peach sour, Huckleberry Cream, Devil Dog imperial IPA and the imperial Pecan Porter.

– Waddell's wine-barrel aged Blackberry Sour, a gold medal winner at this year's Washington Beer Awards, will be featured at the Newport Highway Growler Guys from 5 to 7.

– The Filling Station on 5th features four versions of Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA from 6 to 9 – grapefruit, pineapple, unfiltered and regular – with brewery prize giveaways. 

– Black Label has tapped a Drink N' Debate Porter in conjunction with the Sunday night shows of the same name at the Spokane Comedy Club.

River City is filling growlers for $10 all weekend.

– The South Hill Growler Guys is offering a half-price fill with the first two at regular price (32- or 64-ounce) through the weekend.

– Selkirk Abbey has discount glass pours and growler fills of its regular beers this weekend.

SATURDAY

– Thirty local and regional beers and ciders will pour for the inaugural Downtown Coeur d'Alene Brew Fest from 1 to 7 p.m. in McEuen Park, along with food and live music; admission is $25, which includes a souvenir mug and six 5-ounce samples (extras $2 each),

– Big Barn is donating $1 from every pint sold to colon cancer research.

SUNDAY

– The next Spokane Brew Run Run starts at 1:30 p.m. at No-Li and proceeds to Black Label, Steel Barrel, River City and Iron Goat; runners and bicyclists welcome. 

A Viking rebirth

Used to be, you would walk into The Viking on a sunny afternoon and feel the darkness descend like a shroud. But now you can go in on a damp, blustery evening and watch your mood brighten.

The new-look Viking – which was Spokane’s go-to craft beer bar back in the day – reopened last weekend under new ownership after a 10-month closure and a major remodel.

A higher, open-beam ceiling, lighter woods throughout and refinished concrete floors (the old carpeting is gone) all contribute to the cleaner, more modern feel.

It’s still The Viking, though, with beer signs covering the walls, wooden mermaids perched above the bar and the requisite pool and shuffleboard tables (the fire pit, which wasn’t up to current codes, is gone but could eventually return). As always, there are no windows, but a second patio has been added on the north side of the building.

The menu (a work in progress) again centers around appetizers, salads and sandwiches. Friendly, attentive service rounds out the welcoming vibe.

Beer-wise, a new draft system lines one wall behind the bar, with selections listed on a chalkboard above (including ABV percentages).

Taps have been reduced from 34 to a still respectable 24. Last night’s lineup featured 18 craft selections – including seven from Inland Northwest Ale Trail breweries – along with a pair of domestics (Bud Light and Coors Light), three imports (Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, Guinness stout and Optimator doppelbock) and a cider (Ace Pineapple).

Almost all of the handles will rotate regularly, says manager Steven Barclay. “It’s 10 taps fewer than it used to be, but we’ll be changing them out frequently, so you’ll still be seeing a great variety,” he says.

And local offerings will be a priority, Barclay adds: “Being Spokane’s original micro beer bar, we have a lot of people come in, even people from out of town who have heard about us, and ask what’s local. We want to make sure those are well-represented.”

Hours are daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. (midnight on Sundays). The kitchen stays open until 11 p.m.

As a new experiment, all ages are being admitted until 9, with an eye toward capturing traffic from family events at the nearby Spokane Arena. “We want to see what the general public thinks, what the response is,” Barclay says.  

Do good, drink well

By now, local beer drinkers are familiar with the growing number of community pint nights to benefit nonprofits. This week alone there are fundraisers for the Centennial Trail tonight at Perry Street, animal rescue Thursday at English Setter and for colon cancer research Saturday at Big Barn.

The Second Harvest food bank is offering a more hands-on approach with its VolunBEER event Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m. in its facilities at 1234 E. Front Ave.

For the first hour in the volunteer center, participants will sort and package food for Second Harvest clients – a full 55,000 of them each week in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

And for the second hour, they’ll move back to the kitchen for a tasting of Deschutes beers with a brewery representative – Pacific Wonderland lager, American Wheat, Fresh Squeezed IPA and Black Butter Porter – and a light snack incorporating some of the brews.

For $25 you get samples of each plus a full pour of your favorite. Everyone receives a Deschutes glass, sticker and bottle opener and the opportunity to win hats, shirts and a stainless steel growler.

“We wanted to come up with an event that would engage a different audience than perhaps normally interacts with Second Harvest,” says Chris Houglum, the food bank’s director of donor relations.

“People like to come here and volunteer, and local and regional craft beer is just growing exponentially,” he says. “We thought, let’s see what we can do to combine the two.”

Deschutes, a perennial participant in Second Harvest’s major Taking a Bite out of Hunger fundraiser, was an eager partner for the project, Houglum says.   

“It gives people a chance to interact with Second Harvest for the first time,” he says, “or in a way they’ve never done before.”

It’s also “part of an effort to raise awareness that we have a great kitchen in our facility, which we built two years ago,” says Julie Humphreys, Second Harvest’s community relations manager.

The kitchen offers both free classes for clients – a valuable service, since half of the food distributed is fresh fruits and vegetables – and paid classes for the general public.

Regular volunteers for the daily 5:30 food sort like to listen to music and have fun while they work, Humphreys says, and “sometimes they want to hang out and do something afterward.”

Thursday’s event, she says, “is an opportunity to come back into the kitchen and have some suds. And you get to financially donate as well, which allows us to teach free classes for our clients.”

Houglum says Second Harvest plans a similar beer or wine event each quarter, maybe more often if it proves popular.

“People are getting fed as a result, and that’s really what it’s all about,” he says.

Boys and the bubbles

Four-Eyed Guys' Alex Rausch and Bellwether's Thomas Croskrey deliver their Simon & Gruitfunkel beer to the Spokane Arena's Antwone Whaley before Friday night's Paul Simon concert.

When Bellwether’s Thomas Croskrey brewed a beer called Simon & Gruitfunkel, he never expected to be sending some to Paul Simon himself.

But that’s exactly what happened Friday night before Simon’s show at the Spokane Arena.

Croskrey and Four-Eyed Guys’ Alex Rausch collaborated on the recipe for Spokane Craft Beer Week. It combined one of Rausch’s specialties, gose (tart wheat beer), and one of Croskrey’s, gruit (herbed ale), flavored with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (hence the name).

The Arena crew, who are presenting their second annual Spokane Brewers Festival in August, heard about it and asked Croskrey if he could bring some for Simon’s backstage spread – like they did in February for Blake Shelton, who had taken a liking to No-Li beer during a previous stop.

So Croskrey and Rausch showed up with two growlers of Simon & Gruitfunkel and one of Bellwether’s Fernweh Baltic porter, which won a gold medal in last weekend’s Washington Beer Awards.

Croskrey, who was celebrating his birthday, stayed for the show with a longtime friend. “He and I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel,” he says.

“The concert was awesome,” Croskrey continues. “He did a half-dozen of the old Simon and Garfunkel songs.”  

He hasn’t heard how his offering went over with Simon. “He didn’t say anything during the show,” Croskrey says.

And no, he didn’t play “Scarborough Fair.”

Bragging on braggots

Bellwether is about to do for braggot what it did for gruit.

The North Spokane brewery specializes in Old World offerings like braggot, a honeyed beer/mead hybrid, and gruit, a typically hopless ale brewed with herbs and spices.

In February, it packed its cozy space for Gruitfest, featuring a half-dozen of those on tap. And on Saturday, it hopes to attract an equally enthusiastic crowd for Braggotfest, with a dozen examples from several area breweries.

Like gruits, braggots can cover a wide range of beer types from light to dark, mild to strong, malty to hoppy.

“It’s almost more of a method than a style,” says Bellwether brewer/co-owner Thomas Croskrey. “There are all these different beer styles that you can turn into braggots and gruits.”

Braggot traces its origins to the Middle Ages among Nordic and Celtic populations (it’s mentioned in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”). They likely started out by blending finished ale and mead, often accented with herbs and spices, then began brewing using a combination of grain and honey.

Not all beers made with honey are braggots, though there’s no clear definition of the term today. It’s simply not something federal alcohol authorities see often enough to establish firm guidelines.

“Honey-based beverages basically died in the 1600s and are just starting to come back in a major way,” says Jeremy Kyncl of Green Bluff’s Hierophant Meadery, co-sponsor of Saturday’s event.

Croskrey considers 30 percent honey content to be the minimum for braggots, though his are typically 50-50. Even so, they’re not necessarily sweet; the sugar ferments into alcohol, leaving behind the flavor components.

And with more than 300 honey varieties in the United States – plus regional variations within those, based on climate and other conditions – there’s an abundance of flavors.    

Croskrey uses lighter clover honey in his new Summer Run session braggot (4.6 percent alcohol by volume), a collaboration with Nu Home Brew that gets its bright, crisp character from a combination of lemongrass, birch bark and basil.

Hearty buckwheat honey goes into his stronger, Scottish-inspired Seawolf (7.9), lending what Croskrey calls “almost a Tootsie Roll chocolate.” And given the natural variations in honey supplies, he says, “Every batch is a little different. This one’s a little more chocolatey, this one has a little more leather. I love that part of it.”

Read full post ›

Your weekly planner

UPDATES FRIDAY 6/23

– Spokane's original craft beer bar, The Viking, reopens for business today following an extensive remodel.

– Coeur d'Alene's new Midtown Pub, from former Coeur d'Alene brewing owner T.W. Fisher, opens today at 5. 

– In-progress Priest Lake Brewing is offering test batch samples Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3:30 p.m. 

– On Green Bluff, 238 Brewing has tapped a Strawberry Blonde brewed with fruit from the bluff.

Orlison is pouring three new small-batch beers in the downtown taproom: Belgian Bunny single-hop golden ale, Vienna Pale and My Mom's Smokin' Scotch.

 

UPDATES THURSDAY 6/22

– No-Li is pouring a one-off Mack Daquiri variation on its March Forth Citrus IPA that's infused with coconut and raspberry along with the original orange.

– Perry Street is serving the latest version (yeast Generation 8) of its hazy, juicy New England-style IPA.

– The Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys is offering a half-price pint with growler fills through Saturday.

 

UPDATES WEDNESDAY 6/21

Twelve String is pouring its tequila barrel-aged Mango Mambo, along with a cask of Rhythmic RyePA dry-hopped with Citra. 

 

UPDATES TUESDAY 6/20

– Orlison is offering $3 pints and $10 growler fills of Boulder Garden Brown in the downtown taproom all week.

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

FRIDAY

– Post Falls Brewing's Summer Kick-Off Party from 4 to 10 will include $1 off OPC Hefeweizen and shandys, food from Tacos Los Panchos and Malvagio's wood-fired pizza, and music by Current Flow.  

– The Steel Barrel's first anniversary celebration continues with beer pong on the patio at 5, street corn from Zona Blanca and specialty beers from in-house brewers Little Spokane, Young Buck and TT's Old Iron.   

– Bottles hosts a Georgetown tasting starting at 5 featuring L.A. Woman Crystal Kolsch, Roger's Pilsner, Johnny Utah Pale, Lucille and Bodhizafa IPAs and 9lb Porter plus live music and food from Toby's BBQ. 

SATURDAY

– The Steel Barrel wraps up its first anniversary celebration with pineapple habanero margaritas and Zona Blanca pork rib al pastor tostadas on the patio starting at 2, plus specialty beers from in-house brewers Little Spokane, Young Buck and TT's Old Iron.   

– Bellwether's Braggotfest from 3 to 9 will feature a dozen honey beers including collaborations with Hierophant Meadery, Young Buck and Nu Home Brew plus offerings from Badass Backyard, Four-Eyed Guys, Northern Ales, Rants & Raves and Top Frog. Admission is $15, which includes a commemorative mug and your first six drink tickets.

– The Lantern Tap House's Summer Concert Series continues with music by Super Sparkle plus New Belgium beer specials.

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

Roll out the anniversary

The Steel Barrel this weekend celebrates two brewery birthdays and welcomes a newborn.

The first anniversary party Thursday through Saturday at the downtown taproom will feature special beers from original in-house breweries Little Spokane and Young Buck, and the initial release from newcomer TT’s Old Iron.

Little Spokane will pour its Dark & Lovely oatmeal stout through a Randall of morita chilies, smoked at the adjoining Zona Blanca eatery. Young Buck will have its orange-spiked Mimosa Gose tart wheat beer and Cab-Savvy barrel-aged sour blend. And the vintage auto-themed TT’s will introduce its Ruckstell Rye IPA (named after a Model T axle).

Patio parties all three days will feature Zona Blanca’s pozole carnitas tostadas on Thursday beginning at 5 p.m., with live music at 7 by Haley Young & The Bossame followed by The Holy Broke; beer pong on Friday at 5 along with Mexican street corn, and pineapple habanero margaritas plus pork rib al pastor tostadas on Saturday starting at 2.

It all caps what Little Spokane’s Joe Potter and Young Buck’s Cameron Johnson call a successful first year for the unique brewery incubator operation, designed for up to five beginning commercial brewers to share a seven-barrel brewing system.

Each has four rotating beers on tap in the Steel Barrel – which fills the rest of its 30 handles with guest beers and ciders, and serves specialty cocktails and wine – and also distributes to outside accounts.

“The first year we were trying to get our feet underneath us, get squared away with the brewery and the taproom,” Johnson says. “Now I can focus more on the Young Buck side of things and barrel-aged sours, get more unique stuff out there.”

Potter, whose output has centered around more mainstream styles, says he’s ”ready to do some fun stuff, do some big beers and get some barrels back there.”

Read full post ›

Tokens of affection

We already told you that several Inland Northwest breweries brought home medals from a beer competition at last weekend's Washington Brewers Festival.

And several of them also had good success selling beer during the annual three-day event at Marymoor Park in Redmond, which featured 128 breweries from throughout the state.

Paradise Creek, whose popular Huckleberry Pucker sour propelled it to a second-place finish in last year’s token count, came in seventh this year – one spot behind Iron Goat, which repeated its Top 10 showing.

Waddell’s (14th), Ten Pin (19th), Twelve String (21st), River City (22nd), No-Li (26th) and Steam Plant (27th) also placed among the top 30.

Arlington’s Skookum led this year’s list, followed by Black Raven (Redmond), Triplehorn (Woodinville), Postdoc (Redmond) and Heathen (Vancouver).

Other area breweries pouring at the festival included Orlison, Riverport and first-timer Young Buck.

Winners’ circle

Led by River City with a pair of golds, Spokane-area breweries won nine medals in the Washington Beer Awards, announced this morning at the Washington Brewers Festival in Redmond.

River City took top honors in the strong lager category for its 2015 Congratulator Doppelbock and in British-style imperial stout with Midnight Marmot.

Other gold medalists included Bellwether, Baltic porter for Fernweh; Orlison, English dark ales for Boulder Garden Brown; and Kettle Falls’ Northern Ales, smoke beer for Smoked North Porter.

Bringing home silver were Big Barn, specialty and historic beers, Mead Honey Lager; Perry Street, New World pilsners, PSB Pils; and Clarkston’s Riverport, chili pepper beers, 5/5 Pepper Beer. Waddell’s won bronze for barrel and wood-aged sour beers with its wine barrel-aged Blackberry Sour.

The fifth annual event attracted 1,207 beers from 165 breweries in 64 style categories, making it the largest single-state professional competition so far in the United States.

Other Eastern Washington winners were Ten Pin (Moses Lake), silvers for Snake Eye Stout, Angle Amber, Bowler's Biere de Garde, Barrel Aged BeWILDering B and Groove Pineapple Wheat; Old Schoolhouse (Winthrop), silver, Blonde Ale and Rendezvous Porter and bronze, Uncle Big's Brown and Rule Breaker IPA; Icicle (Leavenworth), gold, Crosscut Pilsner and bronze, Priebe Porter; Bale Breaker (Yakima), bronze, Wood & Wire Imperial Stout; Blewett (Leavenworth), bronze, Nut Brown Ale; Snipes Mountain (Sunnyside), gold, Red Fox Irish Lager; and White Bluffs (Richland), gold, Nectar of the Gods IPA.

Marysville’s 5 Rights Brewing won small brewery of the year honors, Tacoma’s E9 topped mid-sized breweries and Bellingham’s Chuckanut was named large brewery of the year with a record eight medals. Go here for full results. 

A cross to bear

Selkirk Abbey celebrates its new non-Belgian brand on Saturday, but the event is about much more than beer.

The Post Falls brewery is donating proceeds from the day’s sales of its Northwest-style Northern Cross beers to the family of the late Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore, who was killed in the line of duty two years ago, and to two Bonner County Sheriff’s deputies wounded in January.  

In a heartfelt Facebook post, Selkirk Abbey owner Jeff Whitman explains the personal impact of Moore’s death in May 2015: “I wanted to do something. I needed to do something; but each time I went to the police station to inquire what to do, I felt as an intruder … because of the losses I had faced in my own life and because I knew how difficult it must be for them to put on the brave face.

“I agonized over my lack of spine and outward appearance of apathy for ultimately doing nothing when it would have actually been appropriate to have made a gesture of condolence.”

After Bonner County deputies Justin Penn and Michael Gagnon were shot during an arrest, Whitman was talking with two friends, fellow deputy Austin Rosedale and Bulldog Pipe & Cigar owner Paul Banducci, about offering their support. So he decided to formally launch the Northern Cross line and make it a benefit for those lawmen and for Moore .

“It’s a message that needs to be sent,” Whitman says. “There’s such a lack of unity in this country right now, and I’m hoping to help bring that back.”

Two Northern Cross beers have made appearances in recent months: a mellow amber that Whitman says is more akin to an English mild, and a roasty stout. A version of the stout also will be served that was infused with frozen huckleberries.

“It’s not something we’re going to be able to repeat, we just thought it would be fun for the party,” Whitman says.

Brand new is a sessionable pale ale (4.4 percent alcohol by volume) that Whitman calls “a lovely, easy-drinking thing. It’s a fabulous summer beer – clean, clear and dry.”

That will be replaced in the lineup come September with a heartier rye pale for the cooler months. A revised, drier version of last fall’s original Northern Cross release, an IPA, also is in the works.   

Selkirk Abbey’s core Belgian-style beers also will be available inside the taproom for Saturday’s event, which runs from noon to 8.  Two outdoor stations will be devoted to the Northern Cross offerings.   

Also look for wood-fired pizza from the portable Malvagio's oven and cigars by Bulldog Pipe and Cigar

Your weekly planner

UPDATES FRIDAY 6/16

Steady Flow is offering $2 off Dad's first pint or growler Sunday for Father's Day.

English Setter will have $4 pints for fathers on Sunday, with the Citrus Setter orange/grapefruit pale back on tap.

– Whistle Punk is pouring a Passion Fruit/Guava IPA and Huell Melon Saison.

– The latest version of the experimental Fibber McGee's IPA is on tap at Bellwether.

 

UPDATE TUESDAY 6/13

– Ballast Point's Summer of Sculpin comes to the Newport Highway Growler Guys on Friday from 5 to 7, featuring variations on the base IPA including pineapple and unfiltered. 

 

A look at the upcoming week in local craft beer:

MONDAY

– Black Label has tapped a Crumb Kolsch brewed with 50 pounds of toasted bread from neighboring Common Crumb Artisan Bakery.

– The second release from Bottle Bay Brewing, a Citra-hopped pale ale, is on tap at the Rocket Market.

– Pints are $3 all week at Orlison's downtown taproom.

TUESDAY

– Paradise Creek will be on hand for trivia night at Steady Flow Growler House from 6 to 8.

WEDNESDAY

Pilgrim's presents a free tasting with Tacoma's Wingman Brewers starting at 3:30, including Razma Attack raspberry weisse, Ace IPA, Pocket Aces double IPA and P-51 Porter.

– Perry Street is featured for this month's Fried Chicken & Local Beer Dinner starting at 6 at The Wandering Table in Kendall Yards; cost is $35 for the family-style meal and three pints.

Badass Backyard releases the latest in its series of guest beers by homebrewers, Tim's Shotgun Pale Ale.

THURSDAY

Bombastic Brewing launches its first two beers – Attempted Murder vanilla/cinnamon stout and Puddle pale ale – in a release party from 5 to 9 at Enoteca in Post Falls.

– Capone's in Coeur d'Alene presents a Payette pint night from 5 to 8 featuring Fly Line Vienna lager and the Recoil and Blood Orange Rustler IPAs. 

FRIDAY

– Several local and regional breweries will be featured in the grand tastings of the inaugural Crave NW food and drink festival Friday and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley, including Bellwether, Laughing Dog, No-Li, Orlison, River City,Twelve String, Grand Teton, Iron Horse, Ninkasi, Yakima Craft, Wander and gluten-free Ghostfish. Advance online tickets are $35 per session, $50 for both. 

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

SATURDAY

– Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across the World collaborations will be featured in a tap takeover from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the North Onion Bar & Grill's Area 51 Taphouse. Advance VIP packages are available for $30 including tasters of all 12 beers, a T-shirt, appetizers and more; call (509) 482-6100.

– Selkirk Abbey’s fifth anniversary celebration from noon to 8 will feature its non-Belgian Northern Cross line (pale, amber and stout), with sales benefiting the families of North Idaho law enforcement officers shot in the line of duty; Malvagio's Wood Fired Pizza will also be on hand.

Northern Ales in Kettle Falls celebrates its 10th anniversary from 3 to 10 with live music all day.

– Hopped Up has a patio opening party starting at 6 with music by Too Many Men.

– The first in The Lantern Tap House's Summer Concert Series will feature beers from Double Mountain and music by Von the Baptist and Table Top Joe starting at 9.

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

A hazy shade of 3-Way

One of the Northwest’s biggest buzz beers is back, buzzier than ever.

The 3-Way IPA collaboration from Fort George, always a much-anticipated spring release, was even more anticipated this year. It’s in the hazy New England vein – the hottest beer style on the planet these days – and jointly brewed with two masters of that approach, Great Notion and Reuben’s.

At 7 percent alcohol by volume and 65 International Bitterness Units, it’s hopped with a fruity combination of Azacca, Strata, Mosaic and Citra. An opaque honey gold, it has a solid tropical and stone fruit aroma; it starts soft and juicy, but that quickly dissolves into a pronounced, lingering citrus-rind bitterness.

Devotees are debating where it fits into the recent 3-Way hierarchy, following the legendary 2014 version with Boneyard and Block 15, the more sessionable (and disappointing to some) 2015 release with Georgetown and Pfriem and last year’s return to burlier form with Melvin and Barley Brown’s.

While it just arrived in Spokane, you might want to hit your favorite bottle shop soon. There’s talk of can shortages on the West Side, given limited early supplies and this vintage’s attractiveness to traders and hoarders, though that’s likely to ease over the summer as the initial demand levels off and production catches up.     

A killer debut

After years of priming, Bombastic Brewing is about to drop.

North Idaho’s newest brewery arrives Thursday with a release party at Enoteca in Post Falls starting at 5, featuring Attempted Murder vanilla-cinnamon stout and a Citra-hopped pale dubbed Puddle.

It’s the three-year-old project of three avowed beer geeks: former Enoteca owner Russell Mann, who brings business savvy; railroad engineer Phil Hottenstein, who handles marketing; and Matt Skillicorn, a mechanical engineer and longtime homebrewer. Between them, they’ve sampled beers from every state in the U.S. and drank their way through Europe.    

“Our slogan is ‘We know beer,’ and we honestly do,” says Hottenstein, who stars in a “How to Be Bombastic” video series on everything from the best tool for opening a beer to choosing the right glassware and pouring it properly.

There’s also plenty of playful attitude. Beers take their names from groupings of various animals (except for eventual barrel-aged offerings, which will honor assorted deities). Stark but intricate black-and-white label designs come from Hottenstein’s former tattoo artist.

Attempted Murder is a variation on Bombastic’s standard stout recipe, Murder (named after a group of crows), which includes vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, Ancho chilies and cayenne. Since it’s missing those latter three ingredients, it’s “almost Murder”; its label pictures two evil-looking crows, but not the knifed crow corpse they’re standing over on the regular Murder label.

With intense cinnamon balancing the vanilla sweetness, it’s quite approachable for its hefty 10 percent alcohol by volume. On the opposite end of the scale comes Puddle (platypuses), an easy drinker at 5.5 percent ABV.

“We tend to do the biggest beers we can, but we realize everybody isn’t about that,” Hottenstein says. “A beer like Puddle is a good entry point. It allows people to start going up our ladder of beers.”

Other offerings in the works include an IPA, Wisdom (wombats), which opens with the soft juiciness of the New England style followed by a decidedly West Coast hop kick; and an imperial porter dubbed Sleuth (bears), brewed with dark wheat malt and honey for a roasty aroma and smooth flavor.

For now, everything is made on a half-barrel pilot system in the Panhandle Area Business Council incubator at the Hayden airport. While that’s intended for small-batch specialties, negotiations are underway to rent excess capacity at established area breweries for larger-scale offerings – the sort of so-called “gypsy” brewing done by such creative cult favorites as Mikkeller and Evil Twin.

Initial batches are being split between a small keg or two for events like Enoteca’s and a limited run of 22-ounce bottles, which will be available only at the brewery. Bottle releases will be announced through Bombastic’s email list and website.

Hottenstein hopes those will eventually capture some of the excitement of similar release events at breweries in more sophisticated markets, which can draw folks from far away. “I’ve met many people standing in line to get beer that I’m still in contact with today,” he says.

“We want to grow the beer culture in the Spokane area,” Hottenstein says. “You’re going to see craft really taking hold here, brewers getting more experimental, pushing the envelope more. We want to be at the forefront of that.”

Your weekly roundup

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

• No-Li is no stranger to taking home medals from beer competitions. And now it's starting to win business awards, too.

Spokane's largest brewery won the Entrepreneurial Spirit trophy at Wednesday's annual AGORA Awards, presented by the Greater Spokane Incorporated business development organization. That recognizes "innovation, creativity, perseverance and leadership when launching or growing a business or idea."

The new award follows the silver medal No-Li took in April for Food Processor of the Year in Seattle Business magazine's Washington Manufacturing Awards.

• Make your reservations now for a pair of beer dinners coming up on June 20:

– Nectar Catering and Events downtown is hosting a five-course pFriem dinner featuring spicy adobo pork shank with Blonde IPA; country terrine with mustard and stone fruit vinaigrette salad, with the Saison; fried fish and pommes frites with Spring Pale Ale; house-made sausage with glazed carrots and cassoulet puree, with Abrikoos barrel-aged apricot sour; and stone fruit strudel with fresh cream, with the Pilsner. Tickets are $49.99.

– A six-course Sierra Nevada dinner at Clover will include a nettle puree, pea shoot, pecorino and radish salad with the Pale Ale; green tea-encrusted ahi tuna and charred asparagus with Nooner pilsner; octopus ceviche with blueberry salsa, snap pea salad, chili mango gel and crispy chorizo, with Otra Vez prickly pear/grapefruit gose; foie gras and chicken liver pate with Ovila Belgian-style wit; wild boar carnitas with masa cavatalli and summer succotash, with Hoptimum triple IPA; and coconut brown butter cake with chili mango ice cream and beer/papaya reduction, with Tropical Torpedo IPA. Cost is $69; call (509) 487-2937.

• And speaking of Sierra Nevada, its Beer Camp Across the World collaborations will pour in a tap takeover next Saturday at the north side Onion Bar & Grill from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Expanding on its previous Beer Camp Across America, Sierra this year paired up with six U.S. breweries and another six from around the world for everything ranging from a ginger lager to a dry-hopped barleywine.

You can get an advance VIP tasting package for the Onion event that includes tasters of all 12 beers plus a T-shirt, grunt, lanyard and sausage appetizers with Sierra Nevada mustards; call (509) 482-6100.

A mix pack of the bottled beers also is available. Look for those at Total Wine, JB's Foods & Bottleworks and the Yoke's on Montgomery.     

Fill up on Fremont

Fremont takes center stage Saturday as Coeur d’Alene’s Filling Station on 5th celebrates its second anniversary.

Eleven beers from the Seattle brewery will pour for the all-day party beginning at 11 a.m. at the combination growler house/gastropub, most at pint prices of $5 or less.

“It’s been a great year. It’s been fun,” owner Keith Carpenter says. “We want to give back to everybody.”

The lineup includes some of the usual suspects: Summer Ale, Wandering Wheat, Session Pale and The Sister imperial IPA.

Then things get really interesting. There’s also Summer Ale infused with blackberries and mint, Wandering Wheat with pineapple and coconut, and Interurban IPA with Thai basil, ginger and lime.

Toss in a pair of cask-conditioned firkins: the newer Lush IPA with Citra and Mosaic, tapping at noon, followed by Interurban dry-hopped with Chinook at 3 p.m.

And for good measure, add both the 2015 and 2016 vintages of Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb barrel-aged winter ale.

“I don’t know how I’m going to make it all day,” Carpenter jokes. “I’ll have to take a break and go hike around Tubbs Hill.”

There also will be prize giveaways including special Fremont bottle packs for the customers who kill the firkins. Blow the Interurban and get the 2013 and 2015 First Nail imperial stout with licorice and smoked barley, and this year’s barrel-aged Rusty Nail version; the Lush slayer receives last year’s bourbon barrel-aged Dark Star imperial oatmeal stout plus its coffee and Spice Wars variants.

Most of the action will take place up front in the adjoining Collective Kitchen restaurant, with live music by Gabe Green from 6 to 8.     

The headline for Year Two was the doubling of the beer and cider tap count to 50 in March, with 25 added in Collective Kitchen (operated by Carpenter’s half-brother, Jason Rex) in addition to the original row in the back bar.

A cooler was added around the same time for sour and barrel-aged bottles, to drink there or to go. Each Thursday, four selected bottles are featured at 20 percent off; with any bottle purchase during the following week, you get a raffle ticket for a free bottle drawing the next Thursday.