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Northern Lights Brewing plans expansion

Company forms lofty goals with new partner

Northern Lights Brewing Co. is undergoing a makeover designed to boost production tenfold and give Spokane a dominant local craft beer.

Founder and owner Mark Irvin has brought on craft beer veteran John Bryant as a business partner, and the two have changed the name of the brewery to No-Li Brewhouse with aspirations to brew at least 10,000 barrels every year and sell across the region and out of state, including to pubs and restaurants along the West Coast, in Denver and even in New York City.

It’s an ambitious plan sparked by the addition of Bryant to the ownership group. He was the vice president of sales and marketing at Deschutes Brewery, the successful Bend, Ore., enterprise that grew from 17,000 barrels to 140,000 barrels during Bryant’s tenure. He also worked as chief operating officer of Colorado breweries Odell Brewing and Oskar Blues Brewery.

Now he wants to finish raising his family in his hometown of Spokane.

“We’re ready to make Spokane a destination place for craft beer,” he said. “Everything is here to be successful.”

He noted Northern Lights’ recent success against other craft brews in a Seattle competition.

Both Irvin and Bryant say Spokane needs a local brewing powerhouse, a regional brewery that will give Spokane an identifying beer while at the same time encourage other smaller breweries to open and flourish.

Irvin founded Northern Lights 19 years ago in Airway Heights. He moved the brewery 10 years ago to its Spokane location at 1003 E. Trent Ave. just east of the Gonzaga University campus. Irvin’s brewery has weathered two recessions among a series of ups and downs that have doomed other small breweries across the country.

His beers are poured at local restaurants and pubs and sold in bottles at groceries.

The brewery makeover includes revamped label designs. Two pay homage to Expo ’74, including the popular Crystal Bitter burgundy ale, which will sport a red, white and black label featuring three washing machines that represent the former Crystal Laundry, torn down to make way for the world’s fair.

The brewery’s India pale ale will be called Born & Raised, and its label features the Clocktower in Riverfront Park along with a string of three gondolas.

No-Li’s pale ale will be called Silent Treatment, with the label featuring a falling pine tree.

Irvin said some longtime customers will be troubled by the name change. The brewery, however, wanted to avoid a legal fight with another brewery with a similar name.

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