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New order at Selkirk Abbey

Departing Selkirk Abbey head brewer Steve Milnes (left) with assistant Jordan Luikens and owner Jeff Whitman.

Steve Milnes got his first taste of professional brewing back in 2009, when he made a Belgian golden strong ale with the Ram restaurant/brewery in Lakewood, Wash., for a pro-am homebrew competition.

Now a beer based on that recipe will be released at Selkirk Abbey on Friday, Milnes’ last day as head brewer there, for his going-away party.

After working at the Belgian-inspired Post Falls brewery since its inception in 2011, Milnes is returning to his previous profession as a low voltage electrician to earn more money toward his daughter’s education.

“The opportunity presented itself,” he says. “I’ve got a daughter finishing her first year in high school, and she wants to go to college. I don’t want her to struggle like I did.”

Friday’s tap lineup, which will pour at discount prices, includes such specialties as barrel-aged Guilt imperial porter, Atonement tripel and a pair of recent releases under Selkirk’s non-Belgian Northern Cross label, a Russian imperial stout and a barleywine.

There’s also another debut: Father Cilwick’s Old Ale, a mixture of Saint Joseph imperial saison and imperial blonde ale aged in Dry Fly wheat and triticale whiskey barrels and a Templeton Rye barrel. Big, boozy and complex, it packs a wallop at around 14 percent alcohol by volume.

By comparison, the Belgian golden strong is deceptively easy-drinking for its 9 percent ABV, effervescent with a light sweetness up front and a drying, spicy yeast character.

Asked about his favorite beer he’s brewed at Selkirk Abbey, Milnes doesn’t hesitate: Saint Augustine rye saison. “It might be one of my favorite three beers anywhere,” he says. 

That one almost didn’t get off the ground. Selkirk owner Jeff Whitman says he had sampled several rye saisons, and “they all tasted like soggy rye bread. I said it couldn’t be done.

“Steve came back and brought me a growler and said, ‘Here’s that beer you didn’t want me to make.’ I sent him a two-word text, after I finished the growler: bring more.”

Along with the Augustine and Joseph, Milnes has brewed four other Selkirk saisons: a standard Saint Stephen, black Saint Thomas, a Summer Saison and one in 2014 for the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon.

“I can say with confidence that Steve has done more for the saison style than any other brewer in the country,” declares Whitman.

Now the torch passes to assistant brewer Jordan Luikens, who started at Selkirk Abbey in 2013. Milnes, meanwhile, will be digging out his old homebrew setup.

“It’s not like I can stop brewing,” he says, adding with a sly grin: “That’s not fair to the world.”

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

FRIDAY

Selkirk Abbey bids farewell to head brewer Steve Milnes with daylong discount prices on a special 12-beer lineup including the release of his new Belgian Golden Strong.

– Bombastic and Downdraft debut a collaboration black IPA for Idaho Craft Beer Month with a release party at Downdraft from 4 to 7; bottles can be ordered in advance through Bombastic for pickup at the event.

– Bottles hosts a New Belgium tasting starting at 5 featuring the Sour Saison, Le Terroir dry-hopped sour, Honey Orange Tripel, Juicy Haze and The Hemperor IPAs and Fat Tire.

– An '80s night at Beerocracy beginning at 6 will include drink specials, dancing and a costume contest.

– The Lemon Cream Ale is back on tap at Hopped Up.

SATURDAY

– Daft Badger's The Big Something party from 12:30 to 8 p.m. will feature a special barrel-soured ale release, Philly cheesesteaks outdoors and live and DJ music (plus a tent in case of showers).

– Bellwether releases a Dankberry Braggot brewed with whole raspberries and raspberry blossom honey along with barley and oat malts, catnip, hops and a hint of star anise.   

SUNDAY

– Mad Bomber hosts a chili cook-off from 2 to 4; entries are full, but customers can sample for free and vote for their favorite.

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

SATURDAY

Bombastic opens its Hayden brewery from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for pints and growler fills of Uncommon Wisdom English IPA, Common Wisdom imperial IPA and the Coffee Malice and Chocolate Murder Cake imperial stouts, plus free tastes of a test batch of barrel-aged stout.   

Post Falls Brewing continues its second anniversary celebration starting at noon with special beer releases, food trucks and live music.

– Local beers, ciders and food will be featured in this year’s Micros For Mamas from 6 to 9 at Dealers Auto Auction in Airway Heights. Tickets are $45, with proceeds supporting the the Spokane YoungLives program for teen mothers.

– Bellwether taps a keg of its Cochinito Amber Lager, brewed for the downtown taqueria but not usually served in the taproom; get a free coozie with a pint purchase.

Black Label has released a Coffee Cream Ale and Peach/Mango Sour.

SUNDAY

Twelve String releases its Drop D Stout aged in Barili Cellars port barrels from noon to 5, with Barili's Liquoroso Port also available for side-by-side tasting along with stout brownies.   

Big Barn is donating a portion of its Earth Day sales to The Lands Council, with the seasonal Bluff Top Belgian back on tap and the Mac Daddy's food truck on hand.

High and go seek

Where's Waldo? Probably meeting his buds at 4:20 p.m. to get stoned and go look for a fabled garden of ganja.

That's the legend of The Waldos, the California crew whose '70s high school exploits led to an unofficial national marijuana holiday on April 20.

They also inspired The Waldos' Special Ale, released annually for the occasion by Lagunitas (whose own past pot-related indescretions are commemorated in its Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale.)    

The golden-amber Waldos' tips the ABV scale at 11.3 percent, nudging it into triple IPA territory. It's still quite drinkable, with just a touch of syrupy sweetness and a huge hop character that lives up to the weed-like descriptions (and a long finish that coats the mouth like an intense toke).

It's being tapped at the appointed hour today at the South Hill Growler GuysThe Filling Station on 5th and Community Pint; also look for it in the regular lineup at Steady Flow Growler House, Nectar Wine and Beer, Newport Highway Growler Guys, Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys and The Viking.

Nectar and Community Pint also are pouring New Belgium's new The Hemperor hemp pale, as is the Newport Highway Growler Guys as part of a New Belgium tap takeover beginning at 5 p.m. That one has been making its debut on draft here, and should start showing up in bottles before long.

Turning two, serving six

Post Falls Brewing celebrates its second anniversary this weekend with six special beers.

The festivities Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 also will feature food trucks and live music. Beer-wise, here’s what to look for and when (those marked with an * are small batches and not available to go in growlers):

FRIDAY

Noon – The Waffling Belgian Imperial IPA (9.8 percent alcohol by volume).

2 p.m. – *Violet, You’re Turning Violet, Violet Blueberry Milkshake Imperial IPA (9.8).

5 p.m. – The return of Coffee Catalyst Pale Ale (5.5).

SATURDAY

Noon – *Scrumdiddlyumptious Imperial Stout (11.4).

2 p.m. – *Beet Barley Wine collaboration with Spokane’s Four-Eyed Guys Brewing (14).

5 p.m. – Doma Warrior Coffee Brown Ale (4.9).

For food, Pi-daho Artisan Pizza will be on hand both days, along with Bean & Pie on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. and Las Brasas Mexican Grill from 4 to 10.

The music schedule includes the Devon Wade Band on Friday from 6 to 9, Justin James on Saturday from 2 to 5 and The Powers on Saturday from 5 to 8.

The event is family-friendly with no cover charges. And for those who really want to party, nearby Red Lion Templin's Hotel is offering special room rates.

Your weekly roundup

Catching up with more local craft beer news:

• The schedule is starting to fill up for this year's Spokane Craft Beer Week, just one month away May 14-20. Among the events announced so far:

– Things again get rolling with our On Tap kickoff party May 14 at Perry Street Brewing, which also reprises its Night of the Living Pils pilsner fest May 17 and Firk-Off firkin showdown with Fremont on May 18.

– Bellwether hosts this year's Collaboration Beer Fest on May 15, featuring cooperative efforts from area brewers. 

– Twelve String has a release party for its French saison collaboration with Badass Backyard on May 14, a tasting of its last four anniversary beers May 15, IPA Day on May 16 and a joint Valley Brewery Day on May 17.

– The Steel Barrel's three house breweries – Little Spokane, TT's Old Iron and Young Buck – release special beers May 18 including a collaboration tripel.  

– Hopped Up has beer releases throughout the week including a Bloody Mary pickled jalapeno ale, Coffee Blaster pale, Wild Red cherry sour and Bananas Foster imperial stout.

– Iron Goat has its own beer dinner May 14, another at the North Side Onion Bar & Grill on May 16 and tap takeovers at The Observatory on May 18 and Logan Tavern on May 19. It also launches crowler cans May 15 with discount pricing.

• In Coeur d'Alene, The Filling Station on 5th hosts a six-course Trickster's dinner April 29; tickets are $45 and must be purchased in advance.

• Big Headlights Blonde from TT's Old Iron is this month's featured beer at Community Pint, with a portion of every sale benefiting Spokane Public Schools' Community of Montessori Parents.

The Grain Shed is shooting for an early May opening in the South Perry District. The project combines the Culture Breads bakery with an onsite nanobrewery, both using ancient grains grown on the Palouse. 

• Green Bluff's 238 Brewing, which operates seasonally, is scheduled to reopen June 1 on Fridays and Saturdays only

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

SATURDAY

– Bellwether releases a March Hare's Mad Gruit brewed with traditional tea herbs and spices: hibiscus, rose buds, lemongrass and catnip.

– Perry Street has tapped a Juicy Double IPA.

Selkirk Abbey is pouring a barrel-aged Old Ale (14.5 percent alcohol by volume).

– The weekly small-batch releases at Badass Backyard are a Habanero Blonde and extra special bitter.

Mountain Lakes launches

Dave Basaraba (left) and Tim Hilton are the men behind Mountain Lakes Brewing.

You’ll know when you’ve arrived at downtown Spokane’s newest brewery, Mountain Lakes.

A canoe paddle is the front door handle for the taproom at the southwest corner of Riverside and Browne (next to the Lion’s Lair), which opens Thursday.

Inside, the tap handles are paddle tops, with the blades used for taster trays. A canoe hangs from the pressed tin ceiling, and a photo triptych of – you guessed it – a mountain lake adorns the wall next to the bar.

Co-owner/brewers Dave Basaraba and Tim Hilton got the concept from a 1920s-era promotional postcard that reads, “50 mountain lakes welcome you to Spokane.” Now they hope to create a destination of their own for thirsty visitors.

“We want this to be an inviting place to hang out,” Hilton says. “We really like the idea of a spot where people can come after work and have a beer and take a growler home.”

Six house beers occupy the 14 taps for starters, tending to the sweeter and more accessible.

There’s an American-style Wheat Wheat, Don’t Tell Me (5.8 percent alcohol by volume, 24 International Bitterness Units) with a noticeable Citra/Cascade hop character. Woodwork Pale (6.3, 35) gets a sweet touch from honey malt and earthy, floral hop notes from Columbus and East Kent Goldings.

The well-balanced Big Red Wagon amber (6.4, 50), with spicy Goldings, Northern Brewer and Tettnang over caramel and toasty Kiln Amber malts, is joined by a bigger 2-Alarm Double Red (7.8, 70) featuring more of those malts and a citrusy, peppery hop bill of Ekuanot and Cascade.

Rounding things out are the Riverside Browne brown (6.2, 40), with chocolate malt notes accented by Chinook and Centennial hops, and a malt-forward, English-inspired Live at Leeds IPA (7.2, 70) with a subtle hop presence from a combination of Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Amarillo and Northern Brewer.

Read full post ›

Turning nine with a shine

The Lantern Tap House celebrates its ninth anniversary with a series of events starting Sunday:

 – A Fort George Sunday Fun Day from 3 to 6 p.m. will feature $5 pints of six beers from the Astoria, Oregon brewery: the recent Bad Ryeligion IPA collaboration with Iron Goat plus Quick Wit Belgian-style ale, City of Dreams hazy pale, Fields of Green IPA, From Astoria With Love imperial stout and last year's 10th Anniversary Barleywine.

– Iron Goat's new Vienna-style lager, Goatorade, will debut at a launch party Tuesday with $3 pints starting at 6. Look for it to continue as a permanent tap handle at the Lantern.

– The acclaimed, bourbon barrel-aged KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) from Founders will be tapped Wednesday at 5 along with the Michigan brewery's Solid Gold lager, sessionable All Day IPA, flagship Centennial IPA, Red's Rye IPA and Dirty Bastard Scotch ale.

– Festivities wrap up April 19 with live music by Montana's Dodgy Mountain Men starting at 8, with $5 pints of Fremont beers. Admission is free for all ages.

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

SATURDAY

– The Newport Highway Growler Guys is serving Founders' barrel-aged KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout) and other dark beers accompanied by donuts and other pastries starting at 11 a.m. for National Beer Day.

– Badass Backyard at noon releases the Pink Boots Collaboration IPA it brewed as part of a worldwide effort last month on International Women's Day.  

– A blood drive runs from noon to 2:30 at the Coeur d'Alene Growler Guys, with a $4.99 pint voucher in return for a donation. Spots are limited; call (208) 930-4382 or email brittany@thegrowlerguys.com for reservations.  

Millwood Brewing is pouring four variations on its Frog Skin Porter: Coffee Porter Bigalowgulp Style plus Cherry, Vanilla and Nitro versions. 

IPA March Madness wraps up at Manito Tap House through Sunday with a blind flight of the first four weeks' winners: Silver City Tropic Haze, White Bluffs Nectar of the Gods, Mack & Jack's Resolution and Reubens Crikey. The champion in customer voting gets a permanent tap handle for the next year.

SUNDAY

– The Lantern Tap House's Fort George Sunday Fun Day from 3 to 6 p.m. will feature $5 pints of the Oregon brewery's Bad Ryeligion IPA collaboration with Iron Goat plus Quick Wit Belgian-style ale, City of Dreams hazy pale, Fields of Green IPA, From Astoria With Love imperial stout and last year's 10th Anniversary Barleywine.

Hazy beer, clear cause

Waddell’s Brewpub taps a special beer on Thursday to support the fight against ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive condition that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in the loss of muscle control and eventual paralysis.

It’s often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the baseball great whose life it took. Spokane native Steve Gleason, a former WSU and NFL football star, is another victim, as was scientist Stephen Hawking, who died last month.

It has also taken a toll on the family of Yakima’s Cheryl Smith, whose husband, Mike, owns the Loftus Ranches hop farm (their children operate Bale Breaker Brewing). Five years ago, they launched Ales for ALS, which provides participating breweries with a special hop blend to brew beers that benefit ALS research.

Waddell’s (named after another baseball legend, Rube Waddell) is one of six Washington brewers involved this year, and the only one in Spokane. It’s personal for them, too; sales manager Kevin Green’s grandfather died from the disease.

The hazy IPA it will release on Thursday has a similar base to the brewery’s regular New England Haze, but uses an English yeast strain instead of an American one to enhance the haziness. Wheat and oats also contribute to the cloudiness, while a bit of honey malt adds a sweet touch.

But the real star, of course, is the hops. This year’s blend includes 40 percent Ekuanot and 10 percent each Simcoe and Loral, with the rest consisting of four experimental varieties that so far go by numbers, not names.

Waddell’s brewer Bryan Utigard says he can’t really compare it to any hop combination he’s previously used.

“There’s a very rounded, juicy hoppiness that I haven’t tasted before,” he says. “It is a juice bomb. It tastes pretty amazing.”

The beer will only be served at Waddell’s (no outside distribution), with $1 from each pint sold going to the ALS Therapy Development Institute.

Thursday’s release party from 6 to 9 p.m. also will include a Mario Kart 64 video game tournament on the patio. That’s open to the first 16 people who sign up the day of the event; the $15 entry fee includes your first beer, a souvenir pint glass and a brewery tour, with the winner receiving a $50 gift card.

“I’m a video game nerd, so it makes me pretty excited,” says Utigard, who‘s been discussing the idea with Green. “It could be the first of many different video game tournaments we might pull off.”

Your weekly roundup

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

• Beers from local startup The Hidden Mother are beginning to make their way to area accounts.

Owner/brewer Mike Detar on Thursday delivered a single-malt (Maris Otter), single-hop (Centennial) IPA to The Lantern Tap House, and a spicy Russian rye stout to Bottles; look for those on tap soon  And on Monday, Manito Tap House will receive a European pale ale brewed with English malts, German hops and an Irish yeast.

The largely organic Newman Lake brewery launched production last month. 

• Mountain Lakes Brewing now hopes to open April 12 downtown at the corner of Riverside and Browne. The nanobrewery will run three single-barrel systems, separately and in tandem, to produce varying amounts of different styles.

• On the canning front, Orlison has added Boulder Garden Brown – a gold medal winner at last year's Great American Beer Festival – to its canned lineup, while Badass Backyard plans to offer cans of its beers at the brewery this summer.

• Mark your calendars for an unusual beer dinner, one which involves wine as well. Nectar Catering and Events downtown will present the five-course meal April 20, with each course accompanied by 2 ounces of wine and 4 ounces of beer; guests will vote on the best pairings. Tickets are $79.99.  

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

FRIDAY

IPA March Madness continues for a fourth week at Manito Tap House with blind flights of four Washington IPAs; the winner in customer voting advances to the Final Four along with the first three weeks' winners, with the grand champion getting a permanent tap handle for the coming year.

Whistle Punk is pouring a Pineapple Smoothie IPA.

– The weekly small-batch releases at Badass Backyard are a hazy Milkshake IPA and a Cascadian dark ale.

SATURDAY

Bombastic has a pickup day for four bottled beers – Coffee Malice Imperial Stout, Common Wisdom Double IPA, Uncommon Wisdom English Style IPA and Business Adambier – from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the production brewery in Hayden; order online in advance. A  Chocolate Murder Cake stout brewed with cocoa nibs and cake mix also will be on tap.  

Craft growth: Steady as she flows

Source: Brewers Association

Craft beer continued to show smaller but steady gains last year while the overall market shrunk slightly, according to a new report from the Brewers Association.

The industry trade group says total craft production rose by 5 percent. That follows a 6 percent increase in 2016, which was the first time since 2009 that the growth rate had dropped below 10 percent.

As a result, craft accounted for 12.7 percent of the U.S. beer market last year, up from 12.1 percent the previous two years. While craft continued to rise, overall beer production dropped by 1 percent.

Three-fourths of craft growth came from microbreweries (producing fewer than 15,000 barrels per year) and brewpubs, as opposed to larger regional and national brewers who ship their beer farther from home. Bigger players like Boston Beer (Sam Adams) and Sierra Nevada saw decreased sales last year.

“Beer lovers are trending toward supporting their local small and independent community craft breweries,” Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, said in a press release.

“At the same time, as distribution channels experience increased competition and challenges, craft brewer performance was more mixed than in recent years, with those relying on the broadest distribution facing the most pressure.”

There were 6,266 operating craft breweries at year’s end, up from 5,424 in 2016 and more than twice the total from five years ago.

But brewery closures are ticking up slightly, though the overall percentage remains small. There were 997 brewery openings and 165 closures last year, compared to 826 openings and only 97 closures in 2016.

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

SATURDAY

– Slate Creek reopens under new ownership with a grand opening party from 2 to 10 featuring the house-brewed 6 Weight IPA plus 10 guest taps, along with food from the Las Brasas Mexican Grill truck and music in the parking lot from 6 to 8 by The Powers.

– A Riverkeeper IPA pub crawl will feature representatives from River City, Spokane Riverkeeper and Numerica Credit Union at Steelhead Bar & Grille, Veraci Pizza and Borracho from 2 to 3, Tomato Street, Fast Eddie's and Central Food from 3 to 4, Spencer's, The Blackbird and Ripples Riverside Grill from 4 to 4:45 and a final toast at David's Pizza at 5. Sales of the beer benefit the Riverkeeper program; buy a pint at five of the participating locations through Sunday and receive a free pint glass.   

Pints Alehouse continues its sixth anniversary celebration starting at 3 with six specialty beers (including barrel-aged stouts and sours) and select IPAs.

– Girl Scout cookies will be on sale from 4 to 7 for beer pairings at Big Barn.

– Lost Boys' Garage has a Twelve String tap takeover from 5 to 8 with $3 pints (get a souvenir glass with your first one).

– The Blackbird and Nectar Wine and Beer observe Orval Day, honoring the iconic Belgian beer.

Badass Backyard is donating 50 percent of its profits Saturday and Sunday to a fund for Heather Forsman, a member of the local beer community who is battling breast cancer.

Daft Badger has tapped a dark, malty small-batch Midnight Bru (5.3 percent ABV, 50 IBU).

No-Li is pouring five specialty beers on a new barrel-style draft system: a hazy, unfiltered March Radness pale ale with cantaloupe and peach notes (6.2 percent ABV); a Chasing Rainbows red dry-hopped with strawberry/rhubarb Belma (5.8); a malty, dry-hopped, fruity/spicy Thawed Out IPA (7.1); Wake and Cake, a peppermint-infused version of Rise & Grind coffee/oat/milk stout (6.2), and a barrel-aged Wrecking Ball imperial stout dubbed Rip Van Winkle (9.5).

IPA March Madness continues for a third week at Manito Tap House with blind flights of four Washington IPAs; the winner in customer voting advances to the Final Four along with the first two weeks' winners, Silver City Tropic Haze and White Bluffs Nectar of the Gods.