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A&E >  Food

Local crop of breweries just keeps on growing

Warm weather must make breweries grow, because they just keep sprouting around the area. Here’s the latest update on the upcoming crop:

Red Barn – Agriculture is an apt analogy for this homespun brewery taking shape at Bodacious Berries, Fruits and Brews on Green Bluff.

Owner Craig Deitz plans to use produce from his farm in several beers – such as a cherry lambic, raspberry wit and roasted pumpkin ale – as well as a lager made with Green Bluff honey. He’s also growing several varieties of hops and some barley.

“It would be wonderful if down the road we could be completely self-sufficient,” Deitz said, though he’d still have to outsource specialty malts.

He’s assembling a seven-barrel brewhouse from used dairy equipment and converting a storage barn to a tasting room, which he hopes to open for this fall’s Oktoberfest.

Slate Creek – Outdoor adventure is the theme for this small Coeur d’Alene startup, named by brewing brothers Jason and Ryan Wing after their favorite fishing and kayaking spot in the North Idaho mountains.

Jason, an attorney, and Ryan, a firefighter, have lined up a location at 1710 N. Fourth St., next to Bistro on Spruce, for their two-barrel operation (capable of brewing 60 gallons at a time). They’re aiming to have the taproom ready by November or December.

“We’re starting small, emphasizing the local nature of it – the locavore movement, so to speak,” Jason Wing said.

He describes the planned beer lineup as “traditional ales with an American twist” – nut brown, Irish red, porter, stout, etc. – with a Scandinavian-inspired juniper ale also in the works.

Knucklehead – Third-generation brewer John Forsman plans to honor his grandfather with a lager dubbed Farfar – Swedish for “father’s father” – once this Newman Lake brewery gets off the ground.

Forsman and brewing buddy Gary Plunkett are finalizing a lease at 25011 E. Trent Ave., just west of Starr Road. They hope to install a seven-barrel system and open by spring.

“It’s been a good experience so far,” said Forsman, who’s working on state and federal licensing. “We’re ready to go.”

Oh, and the name? That comes from the time he was brewing a batch and forgot a hop addition: “I thought, ‘You knucklehead.’ ”

Beljica – At first, we figured another Belgian-style brewery was on the way to join Selkirk Abbey and the upcoming Ramblin’ Road.

Actually, Alexander Freeman’s Chewelah venture is named after a peak near Mount Rainier that his great-grandfather scaled and helped name. But there’s still an intriguing twist: Freeman, who has celiac disease, is brewing gluten-free beers from such ingredients as millet, rice, oats and sorghum.

“I’ve made some funky beers, but I’ve learned some tricks along the way,” he said.

He plans to hand-bottle 22-ounce bombers from his three-barrel system, beginning with a pilot batch of honey blonde, then moving on to the pale ale that will be his primary product.

First things first: For the moment, Freeman is focusing on his wedding this weekend.

• Meanwhile, work continues on two delayed larger-scale projects – River City in Spokane (from the former Coeur d’Alene Brewing folks), and Trickster’s in Coeur d’Alene – as well as the tiny, half-barrel Moscow Brewing Co.

Summertime brews

We’ve been so busy keeping track of all the newcomers lately that we’ve neglected letting you know about the summer seasonal offerings from established area brewers.

As might be expected, the emphasis is on easy-drinking wheat beers with refreshing fruit flavors.

The fruitiness is fairly subtle in Twelve String’s crisp, dry-leaning Mango Mambo (4.6 percent alcohol by volume, 17 International Bitterness Units). Valencia orange peel provides a citrusy kick in Iron Goat’s Summer Blonde (5.0 ABV, 38 IBU).

C.I. Shenanigan’s Apricot Summer Wheat (4.2, 13) shows sweet-tart notes from apricot puree and tropical aromas from Belgian yeast, finishing dry and slightly sour.

The Steam Plant is serving a strawberry version of its blonde ale, while a raspberry hefeweizen is making regular appearances at BiPlane in Post Falls along with the likes of lemon and mango cream ales.

And on the fruit-free front, No-Li’s Summer Wheat (4.5, 17) gets a slight sweetness from honey malt, accented by spicy/herbal Liberty hops.

Joining forces

Representatives from a dozen area breweries – No-Li, Twelve String, Shenanigan’s, Iron Goat, Golden Hills, Budge Brothers, Knucklehead, Ramblin’ Road, River City, Selkirk Abbey, Laughing Dog and Kettle Falls’ Northern Ales – shared beers and ideas at No-Li last month in the inaugural Spokane/Inland Northwest Craft Brewers gathering.

The informal session spawned talk of cooperative efforts ranging from an “Ale Trail” map for visitors to a local brewers’ festival. The one firm decision: to meet again in October.

• Golden Hills, No-Li, Laughing Dog, Selkirk Abbey and Clarkston’s Riverport Brewing will represent the region at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, Oct. 11-13 in Denver.

But don’t plan on joining them – tickets sold out in less than an hour last week.

• No-Li has put in a formal bid with the Denver-based Brewers Association to have Spokane host a future National Homebrewers Conference.

That took place in Seattle this June, so it likely wouldn’t return to the Northwest for a few years.

Homebrew away from home

Twenty teams of homebrewers are scheduled to compete in the second annual SpoBREW, Aug. 25 at The Porch, 1804 W. Broadway Ave.

The event, put on by the people behind the SpoCOOL blog, will also feature a beer art contest. The public is invited to taste the beers, and Veraci pizza will be available for purchase.

Keep an eye on SpoBREW’s Facebook group page for further details.

On Tap appears the second Wednesday of each month in the Food section. Send beer news, comments and questions to freelance writer Rick Bonino at

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