ON TAP

A one-stop resource for all things beer, both local and beyond

Send local beer
news and events to spokane7@spokane7.com

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.

Old dog, new day

One of Belgium’s most iconic beers gets its due on Saturday.

Some 400 locations across America are participating in the third annual Orval Day, honoring the Trappist pale ale that introduced brettanomyces yeast – Brett, for short – to the U.S.

In Spokane, The Blackbird is handing out free glassware with the first two dozen Orval purchases and serving a classic Belgian dish, moules frites (mussels with French fries).

Nectar Wine and Beer in Kendall Yards is giving glasses to the first 10 Orval customers and offering customized cheese pairings. It’s also waiving the usual $1.50 fee for opening a bottled beer in-house.

Immediately recognizable from its distinctive skittle-shaped bottle (resembling a bowling pin), Orval is brewed under the supervision of monks at the Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval monastery.

Orange in hue and highly carbonated with a huge rocky head, it’s fruity and bready with a bone-dry finish, thanks to the addition of easy-fermenting liquid candy sugar and the highly attenuating yeast used for primary fermentation. 

Dry-hopping with a combination of Halleratu, Styrian Golding and Strisselspalt contributes earthy, herbal, spicy notes.

But the defining characteristic is a pronounced barnyard funk from bottle-conditioning with Brett, a wild yeast that’s become commonly used by American brewers in sour and farmhouse styles. That also allows it to age nicely for five years or more.

Continued fermentation in the bottle can raise alcohol by volume to the 6.9 percent listed on bottles in the U.S., though it leaves the brewery a full percent lower.

“I think it’s one of the most interesting beers in the world,” says Nectar’s Ben Simons. “You definitely get that wild element from the Brett, and there’s a refreshing element to it with some floral and stone fruit character.”

A favorite among more discerning drinkers in the days before the craft beer boom, Orval has taken more of a back seat in today’s scene.

“I don’t sell a lot of it, but always keep it in stock,” says Simons. “People are always looking for the new hot thing, and sometimes the old classics can get neglected.”

In addition to raising awareness about the beer, Orval Day is designed to do good. Through the end of the month, importer Merchant du Vin is donating $1 from each Orval sale to Map International, which provides medicines and other health supplies to those in need worldwide.     

Six times two equals Pints

Pints Alehouse is doubling down to celebrate its sixth anniversary Friday and Saturday, with a half-dozen specialties on tap each day.

While none is quite as old as Pints itself, the predominately barrel-aged beers date back as far as 2014.

“They’re mostly out of our cellar, with some new ones as well,” says owner Derek Quist. “It’s a good mix between vintage and fresh. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Friday’s list includes:

– New Holland Blue Sunday (7 percent alcohol by volume), a blend of various barrel-aged sours.

– Almanac Barbary Coast (10) oak-aged imperial stout brewed with cocoa nibs, chili powder and sea salt.

– Boneyard Wooden Femur (11), a malty English-style barleywine aged in rye whiskey barrels.

– Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break (11.5) stout brewed with coffee, almonds and vanilla.

– Boulevard Rye on Rye (12), an imperial rye ale aged in rye whiskey barrels.

– Firestone Walker Parabola (14.5) bourbon barrel-aged imperial oatmeal stout.

And on Saturday, look for:

– Almanac Apricot de Brettaville (6.5) sour aged in oak with apricots.

– AleSmith Vietnamese Speedway Stout (12) brewed with Vietnamese coffee beans.

– Firestone Walker Stickee Monkee (12.5) Belgian-style quad aged in oak barrels.

– Port’s bourbon barrel-aged Older Viscosity (12).

– Epic Big Bad Baptist (12.7) imperial stout brewed with cocoa nibs and coffee beans.

– The Bruery Mash and Vanilla (13.3) barleywine aged in oak with vanilla beans.

A selection of IPAs also will be on tap through the weekend including Fremont’s hazy Head Full of Dynomite and pFriem Juicy.

As always, everything will be available in 5.5-ounce snifters as well as full pours, which will range from 10 to 16 ounces depending on the beer. Doors open at 3 p.m. each day.

Trickster’s tops national IPA competition

March Madness arrived big-time at Trickster’s today with the news of a major national award.

The Coeur d’Alene brewery’s Juice Box IPA has been named grand champion of the National IPA Championships sponsored by the Brewing News.

“We’re beyond excited here,” owner Matt Morrow said. “We went up against some of the best and won.

“We’re humbled to be in with everybody there. The pedigree of the competition speaks for itself.”

In its 11th year, the competition attracted 158 entries from across the country in the regular IPA category (there also were categories for imperial, session and specialty IPAs). They were divided into three brackets, NCAA basketball tournament style.

Trickster’s took top honors in the weekend’s final round over the winners of the other two brackets, second-place Hazer Beam from Barley Brown’s (Baker City, Oregon) and third-place Boat Shoes from Karl Strauss (San Diego).

Judging was conducted through a series of tastings over the past several weeks in New York, where The Brewing News is headquartered, by panels of “brewers and qualified hop lovers.”

It’s the second New York-based award in the past month for the fruity, Simcoe-focused Juice Box, which is available in 22-ounce bottles and accounts for 70 percent of Trickster’s overall production.

It took a silver medal in February’s New York International Beer Competition, judged by buyers for retailers, restaurants and distributors. Trickster’s American Stout also earned bronze in that competition.

Trickster’s is planning a party for Friday to celebrate the latest victory, though details haven’t been firmed up, Morrow said.

He said Trickster’s is talking with Barley Brown about doing a collaboration beer, and also plans to approach Karl Strauss.

Read full post ›

Your weekly roundup

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

• Trickster's Juice Box IPA has advanced to the title game of its bracket in this year's National IPA Championships presented by the Brewing News.

It topped Breaking Bud from Knee Deep Brewing in Auburn, California in judging this weekend and next goes up against the Hop Baller from Canteen Brewhouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That winner and the winners in the competition's other two brackets will meet to decide an overall champion.

• Tickets are on sale for a pair of upcoming beer dinners:

– A five-course Iron Goat dinner March 27 at Clover will be accompanied by Paul's Pale, Trashy Blonde, the unfiltered Buzzsaw McThunder and imperial Impaler IPAs, and Goatmeal Stout. Tickets are $65; call (509) 487-2937 for reservations.

– Remedy presents a four-course Lagunitas dinner March 29; tickets are $50 (includes tax and tip).  

• Among the newly announced specials at area breweries and craft beer stores:

Big Barn is selling bombers of its bottled beers for $4 through March at the brewery (excluding barrel-aged Black Dog stout).

Downdraft will offer an all-day happy hour every Wednesday, with $1 off pints.

Pilgrim's in Coeur d'Alene is taking $1 off growler fills on Thursdays.

• Finally, the Brewers Association has released its annual list of the 50 largest craft breweries in America and four Oregon brewers again made the cut, though their rankings dipped slightly.

Deschutes placed 10th based on production in 2017, down from No. 8 in 2016, after being passed by Stone and the Oskar Blues-led CANarchy collective. Full Sail again was 29th, followed by Rogue at No. 32 (previously 30th) and Ninkasi at No. 38 (previously 33rd).

The Craft Brew Alliance, which includes Widmer and Redhook, was 12th on the overall breweries list (craft and other), down from 10th in 2016. It doesn't qualify as a craft brewer because it's partially owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. 

Deschutes was 20th on the overall list, Full Sail 39th, Rogue 42nd and Ninkasi 48th.      

Erin go brew

Here's how local breweries are celebrating St. Patrick's Day this weekend:

– The Steel Barrel's St. Patrick's Feast & Fest on Friday and Saturday features a pair of pint-and-a-shot specials on house-brewed beers for $8 – Young Buck Warp 7 IPA with Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition, and Little Spokane Dark & Lovely stout with Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition – and $4 shots of regular Jameson's with any other pint purchase. There also will be Mexican-Irish fusion food from adjoining Zona Blanca.

Millwood Brewing will serve a green version of its 3 Buck Chuck session blonde on Friday and Saturday along with food from the Mac Daddy's truck on Friday and Mixed Plate on Saturday.

Whistle Punk will pour three Irish-inspired beers Saturday starting at 10 a.m. including a dry stout on nitro.

– Badass Backyard's St. Patrick's Day party from noon to 9 will feature new beer releases and specials, Irish music all day and a funniest T-shirt contest at 5 p.m., plus locally produced sauerkraut by SanderKraut.

English Setter's celebration from 1 to 9 will offer Irish music and the new Red Dog Redemption sweet Irish-style red, along with a drawing for souvenir T-shirts. 

Bellwether taps two Irish-style beers from 1 to 10 p.m., a red and a stout, and will serve up Reuben panini and Irish stew.

– Perry Street is serving Reuben sliders with house-made corned beef and local sauerkraut, with happy hour from 2 to 4 and the Zags on the big screen at 4:45.

Iron Goat offers Irish-influenced music by the acoustic father-and-son duo of Don and Thomas Thomsen from 7 to 9, with special St. Paddy's menu items throughout the day (in limited quantities). 

Selkirk Abbey has special pricing on both the regular and huckleberry versions of its Chapel witbier.

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

SATURDAY

– Several local breweries are celebrating St. Patrick's Day with beer, food and other specials. 

– Mac Daddy's has an Iron Goat tap takeover starting at 4 with $4 pints.  

– A Post Falls Brewing tap takeover from 5 to 8 at Syringa Japanese Cafe will include OPC Hefeweizen, Jonny On the Spot pale, Cruz Control session IPA and Stoney MacGuyver IPA.

IPA March Madness continues for a second week at Manito Tap House with blind flights of four Washington IPAs; the winner in customer voting advances to the Final Four.

– Big Barn today releases a Campesino Tropical IPA.

Cap'n Kidd Scotch ale is back on tap at Iron Goat.

Ready to tipsy-off

March Madness again is officially underway – the liquid kind, that is.

Manito Tap House is into the second week of its third annual IPA March Madness. Each week for four weeks, customers can get blind flights of four different Washington IPAs for $5 and vote for their favorite.

The weekly winners then face off in a Final Four round for the right to a permanent tap handle at Manito for the coming year.

Not surprisingly, week one saw Silver City’s Tropic Haze – part of the New England-inspired “haze craze” that’s sweeping the country – win out over three clearer competitors. You won’t be told who’s in this week’s flight until after you’ve tasted them and voted.  

Instead of using Facebook nominations to narrow the field to 16, like before, this year’s lineup was based on a blind tasting of 36 contenders by Manito’s staff. “We wanted to get the list more accurate and make sure the right field was in there,” says owner Patrick McPherson.

Like the typical tournament, there were some surprises. Nectar of the Gods (NOG) from Richland’s White Bluffs – hardly a household name around here, though it won gold in last year’s Washington Beer Awards – came in third in the preliimiinary tasting.

Finishing fifth was the hazy new Resolution IPA from Mac & Jack’s (Redmond), known mostly for its more mainstream African Amber. And the Magneto IPA from TT’s Old Iron, which launched just last June at the downtown Spokane brewery incubator, placed eighth.

“That’s pretty exciting,” McPherson said. “I knew he was doing some good stuff.”

Locals Perry Street IPA and River City Riverkeeper also made the cut, along with Backwoods Logyard (Carson), Bale Breaker Leota Mae (Yakima), Bellevue IPA, Boundary Bay Cedar Dust (Bellingham), Dru Bru IPA (Snoqualmie Pass), Fremont Lush (Seattle), Georgetown Bodhizafa (Seattle), Icicle Bootjack (Leavenworth), Puyallup River Hazey’s Comet (Puyallup), Reuben’s Crikey (Seattle) and Tropic Haze (Silverdale).

The weekly matchups aren’t entirely seeded based on the tasting results, though McPherson says, “We tried to mix it up as best we could.”

And while there are some tough draws, he adds, “If you’re going to win, you’ve got to beat the best.”     

Your weekly roundup

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

• A new North Spokane nanobrewery has launched a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Humble Abode Brewing got over the hump today with close to $9,400 in contributions and counting, well above its goal of $8,500 with two more days to go. It's finalizing a lease for warehouse space northeast of Francis and Nevada and launching the federal and state licensing processes.

Owner Matt Gilbreath has only been homebrewing for about a year but just finished his 52nd batch, ranging from hazy New England IPAs to a Russian imperial stout. He plans to turn out a wide variety of styles from a one-barrel system and rotate them on six to eight taps in a family-friendly tasting room.

"The name of the brewery kind of says it all," he says. "We’re humble people. We know we can’t do it by ourselves."

• Another new nanobrewery, Mountain Lakes, had planned to open next week downtown at the corner of Riverside and Browne but has pushed that back to April because of scheduling and licensing issues.

• Slate Creek's grand reopening party has been set for March 24, with live music in the parking lot from 6 to 8 and food from the Las Brasas Mexican Grill truck. The Coeur d'Alene brewery, which closed last October, is being revived as a nano by a longtime employee.

 • Matt Spann, formerly of Idaho Brewing (Idaho Falls) and Slate Creek, is the new head brewer at Laughing Dog. Spann earned five medals at the Idaho-based North American Beer Awards during his five years of professional brewing, most recently for Slate Creek's Slack Line Saison in 2016. Look for the first in a quarterly series of Year of the Dog releases at the end of the month.

• Trickster's Juice Box IPA has advanced to the Final Four of its bracket in this year's National IPA Championships presented by the Brewing News. It topped the AlphaDankopotamus from California's Hop Dogma Brewing in judging this weekend and next faces the Breaking Bud from another California brewery, Knee Deep. Winners in the competition's three brackets will meet to decide an overall champion.  

Your weekend planner

A look at the weekend in local craft beer:

SATURDAY

– The Warriors of the Rotating Tap (WORT) homebrew club gives brewing demonstrations including an Irish stout from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the HopStop supply store in Post Falls. 

– Perry Street's fourth anniversary celebration continues starting at 11:30 a.m. with the release of three barrel-aged beers and raffles to benefit Grant Elementary School, including a stand-up paddleboard and a Golden Growler with free fills and a pint each week for the next year.  

– Community Pint has a tasting of beers from Tacoma's Narrows Brewing from 3 to 6, including the Bridge to Tomorrow hazy IPA, with former RIver City brewer Moose Sanders, who now works for Narrows.

– A pint night at English Setter from 4 to 9 benefits Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary, which receives $1 from each pint sold; also get paintings from Paint Nite Spokane for a $5 minimum donation.

– The next Brewery Battle at Steady Flow Growler House from 5 to 8 pits Post Falls Brewing vs. Black Label, with two beers from each on tap for customer voting.

– This year's IPA March Madness continues at Manito Tap House with a $5 blind flight of the first four competitors. Four Washington IPAs will face off each week for four weeks, with the winners in customer voting meeting in a Final Four for the right to a permanent tap handle for the coming year.

– Enoteca is pouring a four-year vertical of Deschutes' The Abyss imperial stout from 2014 through 2017; get a 4-ounce flight for $14, 

SUNDAY

– The Lantern Tap House has a Selection Sunday party for the NCAA men's basketball tournament announcement starting at 3, featuring Firestone Walker's canned Nitro Merlin Milk Stout plus cookies.