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No-Li looks downtown

No-Li Brewhouse today announced that it’s looking for a location to build a new brewery in downtown Spokane.

The new facility would be a production brewery with a tasting room but no restaurant, No-Li’s John Bryant says. The current pub off North Hamilton would remain open.

“We’re just looking for some space where we can kind of stretch out, and also create a place where people can come watch beer being made – see it, embrace it, be part of it,” Bryant says.

“We really want to create something with a beer garden downtown that would be part of Spokane culture, like the beer halls in Germany.”

A combination of factors is driving the need for a larger facility. The current 25-barrel brewhouse was installed when the space formerly housed the Bayou Brewing Co. before No-Li (then Northern Lights) moved in back in 2002.

“It’s just very labor-intensive, and it’s not incredibly efficient,” Bryant says.

Plans call for a modern 30- to 40-barrel brewhouse at the new location, with a new, smaller system at the current pub for specialty beers and research and development.

No-Li also needs to upgrade its bottling line as it prepares to launch a six-pack offering (more will be announced about that later). And expanding the brewery’s barrel-aging program – Bryant is shooting for 100 to 200 barrels – will require more space.

Overall, he says, “The quality of life, quality of the environment (for employees) is pretty important. We’re pretty well squeezed in here.”

The current location also doesn’t afford customers a view of the brewing process, Bryant says:  “We want to take the brewing from behind the curtain, so to speak, and bring it out front, make it more interactive.”

Finding a suitable location is, of course, the key. No-Li has begun exploring various options, but that’s still in the preliminary stages, Bryant says.

“It might just be a pipe dream, but we’re going to find out,” he says. “Ideally, we’d like to do this by the first quarter of next year, so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

No-Li would join River City and the Steam Plant among the downtown brewing ranks. Iron Goat also has been looking at the possibility of a downtown location, though there’s nothing firm on that yet.