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A&E >  Food

Waddell’s Noble has a handle on craft beer industry

Michael Noble, co-owner of Waddell’s, poses next to his “Drink the Northwest” taps. (Tyler Tjomsland)
Michael Noble, co-owner of Waddell’s, poses next to his “Drink the Northwest” taps. (Tyler Tjomsland)

The beer business just keeps getting bigger and better for Michael Noble.

Since Noble opened Waddell’s Neighborhood Pub & Grille in south Spokane with his partners in 2008, the number of taps has increased from 20 to 35 to today’s 50.

Lately, more and more of those handles have been devoted to beers from Eastern Washington and North Idaho breweries – all at $3.50 per pint, all the time, as part of a “Drink the Northwest” promotion.

Now Noble is poised to take the next step: starting his own brewery in a second Waddell’s location scheduled to open in the Five Mile area this fall.

“With the craft beer industry exploding, it just makes sense,” he said.

Trained as a chef (and probably best known for his sideline as an ice sculptor), Noble was a committed Coors drinker until one day when he picked up a more adventurous product from the Colorado brewer, Blue Moon Belgian White.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I can taste orange in there,’ ” he recalled.

His palate piqued, Noble started seeking out a variety of beers and eventually began toying with the idea of opening a brewery.

“We kind of wanted to when we first opened up (Waddell’s), but none of us had any beer experience,” he said. “We thought, let’s open this thing up, get a good clientele, and maybe someday we can open a second location with a brewery.”

That opportunity came along last year. Developer Gib Brumback, who Noble knew as a regular customer from his Longhorn Barbecue days, approached him about leasing space in the mixed-use Cedar Crossing project being put together by Brumback and his son, Nick.

Waddell’s Brew Pub and Grille and an artisan pizzeria, the Boiler Room, will be the first tenants in the development near the intersection of Francis Avenue and Cedar Street.

Noble has enlisted a craft-beer veteran – Fred Colby, owner of North Idaho’s Laughing Dog Brewing – as a consultant to help with everything from filling out licensing applications to hiring a brewer to developing recipes.

Initial plans call for five year-round beers plus a seasonal offering, Noble said. He’s considering a moderately sized seven-barrel brewhouse, which should make plenty of beer to supply the two Waddell’s locations plus a few other accounts like the Boiler Room; there’s room for expansion if he later decides on broader distribution.

The larger kitchen and dining room at the new Waddell’s also will allow for brewer’s dinners as well as wine dinners, something he hasn’t had sufficient space to do previously, Noble says.

In the meantime, he’s started a series of monthly brewer’s nights at the existing Waddell’s. The next one, next Wednesday, will feature beers from Ellensburg’s Iron Horse Brewery.

Noble is adding dishes using local beers to his summer menu, including clams cooked in Coeur d’Alene Brewing’s Huckleberry Ale; a barbecue sauce using Laughing Dog’s Anubis Imperial Coffee Porter; and a batter for fish and chips made with Iron Goat’s Garbage Pale Ale.

And he’s arranged for area beers to be served exclusively at the upcoming Micros for Mamas benefit for teen mothers (see information box).

While the new Waddell’s won’t have 50 taps, it will continue to serve some other local beers along with the house brews, Noble says.

“People expect to see a lot of different beers, and with the Inland Northwest brewing explosion, we want to support that,” he said. “Doing that helps us as well.”

He’s appreciative of the applause he received when he announced his plans at a recent meeting of the Inland Northwest Craft Brewers organization.

“It’s cool to be part of a groundbreaking movement in Spokane,” Noble said. “It does seem kind of like a family.”

Tour de source

If you’re looking to tour local breweries and wineries, now you can let someone else do the driving.

WineBrew Hop, a new offering from Spokane Party Bus, so far has signed up No-Li, Iron Goat and Budge Brothers among its destinations, as well as Bridge Press, Townshend and Latah Creek wineries and Nectar Tasting Room.

You can choose four locations for a five-hour tour aboard the sleek 14-passenger bus; cost is $500, with $100 of that going to support breast cancer research. For more information, call (509) 701-3392 or see

Spring fever

Spring seasonals keep coming from area brewers, with a pair paying homage to an incendiary bit of local history.

The Steam Plant’s 1889 Imperial IPA (8.2 percent alcohol by volume, 80 International Bitterness Units) takes its name from the date of downtown Spokane’s Great Fire. It tastes strong and slightly sweet, with a complex, floral/grassy hoppiness.

The imperial red at Iron Goat (7.7, 95) is dubbed Irish Kate, in honor of the local prostitute whose altercation with a customer allegedly knocked over an oil lamp that sparked the blaze, according to one colorful legend. Richly malty and fruity up front, it finishes dry and herbal.

Ramblin’ Road’s Plowed (6.2, 65), a Belgian farmhouse-style ale brewed with lemon peel, is more refreshing than its deep reddish hue might suggest. It starts with a citrusy kick, followed by spicy, earthy notes as it warms.

Also on the Belgian side, Selkirk Abbey’s St. Augustine rye saison, formerly a fall seasonal, will be produced year-round, and distributed to select East Coast accounts along with the Infidel IPA.

And Laughing Dog has launched a series of Purebred pale ales brewed with single hop varieties. First up, the Citra (6.2, 68) is full of that hop’s distinctive citrus and tropical fruit flavors. We’re looking forward to future litters.

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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