2019 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA
It's only been around since September 2015, but Bellwether already is steeped in history. The North Side brewery specializes in Old World styles like gruits (brewed with herbs), braggots (with honey) and the strong, sour Albion heather ale, along with more modern, familiar offerings. It also spotlights ancient barley varieties, locally grown and malted, which have been featured in several of a steady series of special events.
Opened: September 2015
The story: Childhood friends Thomas Croskrey and Dave Musser see their North Side nanobrewery as a way to help revive both Old World beer styles – such as braggot (a honeyed beer-mead hybrid) and gruit (brewed with herbs instead of hops) – and the surrounding Emerson-Garfield neighborhood.
The scene: In a former mechanic shop that sat empty for 10 years, the clean, inviting space was designed by Musser’s wife, Brianna, and brought to life by her father, a contractor. A polished concrete floor and walls in light and dark gray are accented by the black walnut used for the bar and table tops, tap handles and taster trays. Globe light bulbs hang from long cords over the bar. Along with padded, high-backed barstools and standard tables in the middle of the room, there’s distinctive seating along opposite side walls: two tables with stools bolted to one wall, and a cozy nook along the other (painted blue) with couches around an old dresser. A window opposite the bathrooms looks into the brewery operation. It's family-friendly, with children allowed.
Food: In-house offerings include pistachios, a cheese platter, panini sandwiches with Alpine Bakery bread using the brewery’s spent grains (which also appear in soft pretzels) and vanilla ice cream for floats. Free delivery also available from nearby Prohibition Gastropub.
Live music: Occasional.
Specials: Trivia Wednesdays; discount growler fills on Sundays during summer.
Brewhouse size: 1.5 barrels
Beers: Along with the distinctive Seawolf brown braggot (7.9, 51), Albion hopless heather ale (8.2, 0) and a rotating series of herbed, hopless gruits, there are more familiar offerings such as a lemon/ginger-accented Second Breakfast hefeweizen (5.2, 19), Whiter Shade of Pale Ale (5.4, 46), English-style Pond Hopper IPA (6.1), ever-evolving, Northwest-style Fibber McGee's IPA (6.3), Brother by Choice stout (4.2, 19), Patrick Horn nut brown (5.3, 20) and Lightbender Cascadian dark ale (6.5, 82), along with a rotating series of specialties.
Other options: Hard cider, Boylan's sodas.
Don’t miss: While the Old World styles are well worth checking out, you can't go wrong with the Lightbender, which layers piney, citrusy hops over a smooth, roasty malt body.