It’s been getting so you can’t keep all the local craft brewers straight without a program. Now, there is one.
Today marks the official launch of the Inland Northwest Ale Trail, with a brochure and website (inlandnwaletrail.com) showing the locations and details of 16 area breweries.
It’s more than just a map. Visit and get stickers from 10 of the breweries, and you’ll receive a 32-ounce grunt (half-growler) bearing the Ale Trail logo, while supplies last.
“We’re trying to grow the beer culture in the area,” said Heather Brandt of Iron Goat Brewing. “This is new, for this area to have this variety of breweries. A lot of people still don’t know that a lot of us are here.”
Added Dani Guthrie of the Belgian-inspired Ramblin’ Road: “People might think they know craft beer, but we have such a wide variety of different beers being brewed, different styles.”
The Ale Trail, modeled after a similar initiative in Bend, Ore., is the initial project of the recently incorporated Inland Northwest Craft Brewers association.
It’s partially funded through a $13,000 grant from Spokane County’s Tourism Promotion Area, supported by lodging taxes. Brochures will be distributed to hotels and other locations from the Tri-Cities to Western Montana.
“Visitors can pick up a map and extend their stay for a few days,” Brandt said.
Before getting their grunt, people will need to fill out a survey asking such questions as where they’re from, where they stayed (if visiting) and how much they spent.
The brewers’ association hopes to repeat the Ale Trail next year and include the wave of up-and-coming area breweries that aren’t open yet.
Other projects under discussion include a Spokane Beer Week – similar to what’s done in Seattle and Portland – and a local brewers’ festival in addition to the one put on here each fall by the Washington Beer Commission.
All the fests
• This year’s Inland NW Craft Beer Festival (formerly Spokane Oktoberfest) will be Sept. 27-28 in Riverfront Park.
Thirty breweries are expected at the Washington Beer Commission-sponsored event, including – for the first time – some from North Idaho. For further details, keep an eye on www.washingtonbeer.com.
• Kootenai River (Bonners Ferry), Laughing Dog, No-Li, Riverport (Clarkston), Selkirk Abbey and Trickster’s will represent the Inland Northwest at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, Oct. 10-12 in Denver.
By the way, tickets sold out online in 20 minutes this time – twice as fast as last year’s record – though they’re available (at premium prices) through resellers like StubHub.
The latest on breweries-in-progress that might make next year’s Ale Trail map (in addition to Hayden’s Mad Bomber, which we told you about last month):
• Zythum Brewing is busy remodeling the former hardware store in Fairfield for its brewpub. Plans call for a soft opening mid-September with limited beer and food, and a grand opening Nov. 29, just in time for the Apple Cup.
• Construction is moving along on the new home of Perry Street Brewing, at the northeast corner of 11th and Perry. If all goes smoothly, former Big Sky brewer Ben Lukes could be making beer on site in September and open by mid-October.
• The target date is Nov. 1 for the opening of Waddell’s North Side brewpub in Five Mile, which will also provide beer for the existing South Hill restaurant. Owner Michael Noble has lined up an 8.5-barrel brewhouse and is close to hiring a brewer and finalizing recipes in consultation with Laughing Dog’s Fred Colby.
• Hanson Brothers Brewing, a planned three-barrel distribution brewery in Newman Lake, is moving through the licensing process in anticipation of a fall opening. Next summer’s seasonals already have been announced: a cranberry saison and a Mosaic/Citra/Amarillo IPA.
• Probably the least-known, already-licensed local brewery, English Setter, has been selling kegs and growlers and servicing weddings and other special events out of owner/brewer Jeff Bendio’s Spokane Valley garage.
Now Bendio is looking for a location in the Sullivan Road-Liberty Lake area for a three-barrel brewhouse with a taproom and basic burger-and-brats menu. For more info, see englishsetterbrewing.com.
• Twelve String’s new Rhythmic RyePA (6.4 percent alcohol by volume, 79 International Bitterness Units) doesn’t miss a beat, with pine and peppery spice notes dancing over a lightly creamy, juicy, fruity base. As a further treat, it will be the Spokane Valley brewery’s first cask-conditioned offering once a beer engine is installed.
• In North Idaho, the hearty Hoppy Bee Imperial IPA (9.6, 84) at MickDuff’s in Sandpoint is mellowed by honey. And the MountainHop IPA (7.6, 75) at Coeur d’Alene’s Slate Creek, full of Galaxy, Simcoe, Mosaic and Calypso hops, sold out fast the first time around but is due back in a couple of weeks.
• The area’s newest homebrew supply store, Nu Home Brew & Bottles, has its grand opening today from 4 to 9:30 p.m. at 14109 E. Sprague, with a 25 percent discount storewide. Owner Peter McArthur plans to expand his bottled beer selection and also has taps for growler fills.
• Europa Restaurant & Bakery, 125 S. Wall St., is hosting a five-course No-Li brewer’s dinner Tuesday at 6 p.m. The menu includes sturgeon with Cream Ale; rack of lamb with Crystal Bitter; pork tenderloin with Silent Treatment Pale Ale; beef cheeks with Born & Raised IPA; and a chocolate-espresso dessert accompanied by Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout. Cost is $50; call today for reservations, (509) 455-4051.
• Laughing Dog celebrates its eighth anniversary Aug. 24 at the Sandpoint-area brewery with $5-per-plate barbecue and a new “top secret” beer. Mark your calendar, and look for more details in the next On Tap.