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Welcome to On Tap online

Like they say, the journey of a thousand beers begins with a single sip.

Today, we begin a new voyage with this online extension of the On Tap beer column, which appears two Fridays each month in The Spokesman-Review’s 7 section. We’ll be able to bring you much more news from the area’s rapidly growing craft brew scene, and make it more timely – you won’t miss out on any new beers or events just because they didn’t fit into our print deadlines.

The On Tap journey started 20 years ago, with our first newspaper column in January 1994, just a couple of months after a fledgling brewery called Northern Lights launched in a large shop building in Airway Heights. Other local breweries had come before and would follow, with names now familiar only to us old-timers: Fort Spokane, Birkebeiner, Sweetwater, the Ram, the Bayou, Falls Brewing, Hollister Mountain.

Before long, with the exception of Northern Lights (now No-Li Brewhouse) and Coeur d’Alene Brewing (now River City), they were all gone, along with lots of others nationwide, caught up in the burst of the first craft beer bubble. For a while, On Tap went away, too.

But a few years ago, breweries began popping up again in increasing numbers both locally and across the country. And this time – knock on wood – it looks like they’re likely to stick around, at least most of them, as craft beer becomes a permanent part of the culture.

That’s where we come in, to help you navigate the increasingly crowded waters. Sure, there are plenty of people who know more about beer than we do; fortunately, many of them are running breweries. We won’t pretend to tell you what to drink, or what to think. Our job is to do the legwork to give you the most complete information we can, assist you in sorting out all the options, so you can make the best decisions about where to spend your beer time and money.

So hop on board. It’s going to be a fun ride.