For five years, Michael Noble has been pouring other people’s beers at his Waddell’s Neighborhood Pub & Grille on South Regal.
Now, Noble has a new North Side spot with a budding lineup of beers brewed in-house: Waddell’s Brewpub & Grille, which opened this week at Five Mile.
“It’s exciting,” Noble said of having beers he can call his own, thanks to the skills of brewer Bryan Utigard. “I’m learning so much.”
Most everything about the newly built brewpub has a different feel from the South Hill location. The open, spacious dining room seats 165 people; another 85 will fit in an adjoining private event room with garage-style doors that will open in summer for a patio atmosphere.
The vibe is industrial, with a high, black open-beam ceiling accented by large copper tubing. The base of the concrete-topped bar and parts of the walls are lined with 100-year-old red fir from the former Crescent department store warehouse.
Beer conditioning tanks are visible through the windows behind the bar. “We wanted that working brewery feel,” Noble said.
Overseeing it all is a large likeness of Rube Waddell, the eccentric, turn-of-the-century star baseball pitcher (one of Noble’s original partners was a distant cousin), with an alligator wrapped around his shoulders. It seems Rube liked to wrestle gators in the off-season.
That’s also the logo for Waddell’s Alligator Stout, one of the first three house beers on tap. At 7 percent alcohol by volume and 75 International Bitterness Units, it starts with big chocolate flavors and finishes with roasty coffee notes.
“I wanted it to be more like a Russian imperial stout, but without the huge alcohol,” said Utigard, who’s planning to serve some of it through a creamy nitrogen tap.
The Fireman’s Amber (5.0, 45) – Waddell was a self-styled volunteer firefighter – shows a soft, smooth malt body nicely balanced by spicy Mount Hood hops. The other opener is a Left Hook IPA (7.0, 80) – yes, Rube also liked to throw punches, both in and out of the ring – with a complex, herbal-floral hop character.
In the pipeline are a South Paw Pale Ale (Waddell was a lefty) and Barkeep Bavarian Wheat (he tended bar in his spare time).
Not all the beers will be Waddell-themed. Also scheduled for the regular lineup is Shattered Glass Imperial IPA, honoring former Gonzaga University forward Casey Calvary, who famously demolished a Spokane Arena backboard during a dunk attempt in 2001. Calvary, a regular at the South Hill Waddell’s, is a fan of huge India pale ales.
And not to be outdone, former Zags guard Dan Dickau – who has a North Side barber shop, where Noble’s sister-in-law works – will be getting a pilsner named after him. Dickau acquired a taste for the style while playing professionally in Germany.
Utigard will have his hands, and his three fermenters, full trying to fill the 14 taps that have been set aside for house beers, out of 38 total.
“We’re not holding him down at all,” said Noble. “We’re telling him, ‘Go out and brew the beers you’ve always wanted to brew.’ ”
Utigard, a former assistant at Northern Lights, is up for the challenge. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, just to have this kind of freedom,” he said.
He’s talking about collaborations with brewing buddy Ben Quick from the Steam Plant, like a tart Belgian lambic that might see some time in wine barrels. Other beers will be aged in Dry Fly whiskey barrels.
Several of the beers will be served at Waddell’s South and at select other accounts like the Boiler Room pizzeria, a neighbor in the new Cedar Crossing development.
And the beers are showing up in the food at the new Waddell’s: the amber in osso buco and beer mustard, the stout in braised lamb and a “gumbolaya.”
That latter Cajun concoction includes alligator sausage, which also is served whole on a bun. Then there’s the spicy alligator wings, made from the critter’s front legs.
Something tells us Rube would love it.
• Zythum Brewing isn’t quite ready to open its doors in Fairfield, but it has launched a website with lots of information, plus an online store where you can buy “GrainOla” and other snacks made with spent brewing grains and sweet wort (the basic beer liquid, before hops are added). Go to zythumbrewing.com.
• Trickster’s in Coeur d’Alene is pouring a Naughty Nick oatmeal stout (7.1 ABV, 23 IBU) made with cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar.
• No-Li’s new Expo Series seasonal bottled offering is Skyrail (6.5, 65), a single-hop IPA based on the limited-edition Amarillo Red served at the brewpub in September.
And the rebranding of Crystal Bitter as Spin Cycle Red will be complete come January, eliminating one of the last remnants of the old Northern Lights days.
• Winter may be barely a week old, officially, but beer time marches on: Columbia Common, Widmer’s spring seasonal, already is replacing the Brrr on supermarket shelves. Is that a robin we hear?