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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.

All are served as pints, half-pints and taster trays. Guest taps include a pair of Belllwether beers – Fibber McGee’s IPA and Saint Veronus barrel-aged plum sour – and the Newtown Pippin cider from fellow downtown dweller Liberty.

On the way in the next week or two are a single-malt (pilsner), single-hop (Northern Brewer) blonde and a coffee version using cold brew from nearby Spaceman Coffee. The requisite hoppy IPA also is in the works.

Some of the current recipes may get a bit of a hop boost, Hilton says, but he and Basaraba prefer more balanced beers. And while there will be more experimental offerings at times, he adds, “We don’t want to make things that are overly macho or showy.”

Three one-barrel systems are running in tandem, allowing the flexibility to produce 30, 60 or 90 gallons of a given beer. Those are tucked along the brick east wall of the narrow, rectangular space, with seating at a surrounding L-shaped bar. 

The smaller main bar and a few tables sit up front, with a patio planned along Riverside. Entertainment options include darts and a small TV above the entrance (a larger screen is expected later). For food, there’s hot dogs, sausages and snacks including popcorn, chips, pub mix and trail mix.

Hours are Thursday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to close. For more Info, call (509) 596-0943 or go to mountainlakesbrewco.com.