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A&E >  Food

Lake City’s Newest Brew

By Rick Bonino The Spokesman-Revie

Amid the area’s brewpub boom, Hollister Mountain has made a comparatively quiet entry onto the beer scene.

Tucked into a former Dr. Pepper bottling plant in Coeur d’Alene, it’s one of three local breweries without an attached restaurant/pub - joining Northern Lights and Hale’s - and the first new one in three years.

That’s a tradeoff. Skipping the food and furnishings is a lot cheaper, and a lot less complicated. On the other hand, having your own pub means there’s always at least one place willing to pour your beer.

“We felt there was a need for just a manufacturer that wouldn’t get in the way of the other brewpubs,” says Debbie McGowan, one member of the two-couple partnership that started the brewery.

“We’re a supplier, not a competitor,” adds Debbie Piller. “People are happy with that.”

In its first three months, Hollister Mountain’s beers have shown up on taps throughout North Idaho in places ranging from such microbrew meccas as Capone’s in Coeur d’Alene and Eichardt’s in Sandpoint to the Eagles Lodge in Kellogg, where the One-Eyed Raven Porter is a hit. Plans call for Spokane distribution starting in February.

The brewery is the brainchild of the two Debbies and their husbands, veteran home brewers Greg Piller and Paul McGowan. It’s named after the area north of Coeur d’Alene where the Pillers live. The brewery’s Scottish theme (pint glass logo: “Whatever Blows Your Kilt Up”) also came naturally; all but Greg have some Scottish blood, and “Braveheart” was big when they were putting the business together.

“We just like the romanticism, the whole traditional idea of the Scots,” Debbie McGowan says.

The first four Hollister beers, all unfiltered, have a bit more body and flavor than some of the recent brewpub offerings.

The golden, slightly spicy Fieldstone Rye is the most approachable. The Keeper’s Pale Ale is light copper in color, with more malt and hop character. The flagship beer, the ruddy Claymore Scottish Ale, is satisfyingly smooth and malty.

As in some of the pubs, the porter is the real star of the show - rich and hearty, with chocolate and coffee flavors and a slight smokiness.

At this point, the beers are a true labor of love. All the partners except Debbie McGowan work other, full-time jobs as well. “The goal is to make this the only one,” Debbie Piller says.

Why do they do it? “It’s kind of a cook’s attitude,” explains Paul McGowan. “Most of the cooks I know like to serve other people their food, and have them enjoy it. It’s the same with our beer.”

New Bayou

In Spokane, the Bayou Brewing Company, part of the New Orleans-themed Riverwalk complex at Trent and Hamilton, is poised to make a major splash.

Behind a 25-barrel brewing system - the biggest in these parts - brewmaster Scott Harris hopes Bayou beers will win some of the tap space at area restaurants and taverns that now goes to large out-of-town players like Pyramid and Redhook.

Bayou began brewing a few weeks ago, and the beers should start showing up on area taps soon.

“This town is coming of age with microbrews,” says Harris, who was the winemaker at Arbor Crest from 1982 to 1990 before going to work for hop supplier S.S. Steiner in Yakima. “Why let Widmer, Redhook, Alaskan Amber come in and dominate the market?”

With Steiner, Harris worked with dozens of microbreweries and major breweries alike. “I stole a little bit of everybody’s best ideas,” he says.

His fondness for hops is evident in his beers. While they aren’t particularly bitter, there’s plenty of floral hop aroma and flavor from hops added at the end of the boil during the brewing process.

I tasted early samples of three Bayou brews. Golden Age Amber is an American-style pale ale with a lighter body that allows the hop character to come through. Spokane Red is a deep red British-style pale, rich and malty. Voodoo Dark is a dry, roasty porter with plenty of Willamette finishing hops. (Look for the Golden and Voodoo this week at Heroes in the Northtown Mall.)

Bayou Blues Dunkel-Weizen, a dark wheat beer, is the fourth beer Bayou will distribute. All will also be available at Bayou’s restaurant and pub, scheduled to open Feb. 4, along with a lighter wheat beer, a highly hopped India pale ale and seasonal specialties.

DPA exam

Seattle-based Pyramid, meanwhile, hopes to set itself apart from the pack with a distinctive new beer called Draught Pale Ale, or DPA for short.

The beer, introduced in Spokane last week at The Viking, is made from Pyramid’s regular pale ale recipe. However, it’s kegged with and served using nitrogen as well as the typical carbon dioxide. The smaller bubbles in nitrogen produce a creamy, long-lasting head and a soft, smooth, drinkable body with a muted hop character and a dry, clean finish.

Irish stouts such as Guinness have been dispensed this way for years, but Pyramid says it’s the first major American microbrewery to do so on a regular basis.

Brewmaster Rande Reed hopes the beer will appeal to less adventurous drinkers, while still satisfying those interested in more challenging brews. “We’ve made the style more approachable,” he says. “It just slides down.”

For those who prefer bolder beers, the hearty “MacPyramid” Scotch Ale, available on a limited basis last year, is being brought back as a regular seasonal offering. Both it and Thomas Kemper Maibock, from Pyramid’s sister brewery, are scheduled to arrive this week.

Party barley

Fans of those biggest beers of all, barley wines, should check out the Super Bowl party Jan. 26 at Casey’s Pub and Grill in Post Falls. Along with free finger food and happy-hour prices on pints, Casey’s will premiere its raspberry-tinged Proprietor’s Reserve Barley Wine, which won a silver medal in the Chicago-based World Beer Championships.

, DataTimes MEMO: On Tap is a monthly feature of IN Food. Write to: On Tap, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. Call 459-5446, fax 459-5098 or e-mail to

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rick Bonino The Spokesman-Review

On Tap is a monthly feature of IN Food. Write to: On Tap, Features Department, The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. Call 459-5446, fax 459-5098 or e-mail to

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rick Bonino The Spokesman-Review

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