Looks like the new year will bring even more new breweries to the Inland Northwest.
Among the latest local projects to surface:
Hopped Up: For the past 10 years, Steve Ewan has been planning to open his own brewery.
First he found the equipment – a 12-barrel system used by the former Northern Lights Brewing when it was still in Airway Heights. Then came the location, when he bought the old International House of Pancakes across from University City Mall.
Now he’s busy remodeling the space into a brewery and tasting room, with an eye toward opening in May.
Ewan said the name reflects his love of both hoppy beers and hot rods, as well as the building’s IHOP history. “Beer is about everyday life,” he said. “I don’t really want an ironclad theme.”
A longtime homebrew competitor and later judge at the Spokane County Interstate Fair, where his imperial porter was grand champion, Ewan has recipes ranging from a dry raspberry champagne ale to a Russian-style kvaas made with rye and sourdough breads.
Black Label: Small and sustainable are the keywords for this project by brewing buddies Steve Wells and Dan Dvorak.
They’re turning former office space near the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center into a 1.5-barrel nanobrewery that will produce a wide range of both ales and lagers.
“What’s cool about a smaller system is that we can play around with a lot of different stuff,” Dvorak said.
As much as possible, the beers will use organic malts and the partners’ homegrown hops, with beehives in the works for their honey kolsch. Brewing byproducts – spent grains and graywater – will end up as compost and fuel for the hop fields, and the brewery will be partially solar-powered.
“Sustainability is going to be one of our main focal points,” Wells said.
They’re shooting for an August opening; look for a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter within the next month or so.
Zythum: Homebrewer Shawn Carney hopes to open a brewpub, with food service, in or near the Spokane Valley but says he hasn’t found the right location.
So in the meantime, he’s applying for permits and looking at small-scale distribution out of his garage to start establishing his brand name (which comes from the Egyptian word for fermentation).
Carney and his wife, Deb, also are planning to produce a brewer’s granola made from spent grains, as well as beer-related baked goods. More information should be available soon at zythumbrewingcompany.com.
The home stretch
Some other new breweries that have been in the works for a while are approaching the finish line.
With all permits finally in place, Spokane’s River City Brewing (from the owners of the former Coeur d’Alene Brewing) has begun making beer and is aiming for draft distribution beginning in February. In the starting lineup are red and golden ales and an IPA bearing the River City label, and the familiar Huckleberry Ale and Vanilla Bourbon Stout under the Coeur d’Alene name.
In Coeur d’Alene, Slate Creek is completing its taproom remodel and plans to begin brewing soon for an early February opening.
Moscow Brewing also has finally fired up its kettles, with a pale and IPA in the tank and an amber and stout on the way. The half-barrel nanobrewery should be serving beer in its tasting room by the end of January.
Happy new beers
The holidays may be over, but new winter offerings keep coming from area breweries.
Selkirk Abbey in Post Falls, which released a standard saison as a summer seasonal and a rye-accented rendition for fall, is back with a black Saint Thomas that adds a dark malt base to the spicy-tart Belgian farmhouse style.
The next entry in No-Li’s specialty series of 22-ounce bottles is Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout, a 9.5-percent-alcohol heavyweight scheduled to arrive on the market Jan. 25.
Twelve String, which last month celebrated its first anniversary with a big double IPA, is following up with an even bigger version conditioned in Dry Fly whiskey barrels. It debuts at a release party next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Spokane Valley taproom, along with a triple dry-hopped C#7#5 IPA and other rumored treats.
Iron Goat also is aging some of its seasonal Goatnik, a Russian imperial stout, in Dry Fly barrels, though that won’t be ready until spring. In the meantime, you can stay entertained with the new ad for the brewery’s Head Butt IPA, from Spokane’s Purple Crayon Pictures; go to www.youtube.com/watch?v= PVdZQAr-clI.
• Wallace Brewing beers should start showing up in Spokane shortly, thanks to a new, expanded distribution arrangement. Look for the Winter Ale on tap, and the Idaho Select Lager, Red Light Irish Red and Vindicator IPA in both bottles and draft.
• What’s being billed as the “biggest beer dinner ever in Spokane” – in terms of capacity, anyway – is set for Jan. 25 at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St., featuring New Belgium beers.
Menu details are forthcoming; tickets are $57.72, including service charges and taxes. Call (509) 327-8000.
• Finally, for those of you already sick of winter, spring seasonals are starting to hit the shelves.
Two returnees are among my favorites any time of year: Sierra Nevada’s peppery Ruthless Rye IPA, and Deschutes’ creamy, juicy Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale.
A newcomer, Widmer’s Columbia Common is in the California common, or “steam beer,” style revived by Anchor in the 1980s, made with lager yeast fermented at warmer ale temperatures.
Easy-drinking at 4.7 percent alcohol by volume, the amber-hued beer has a slightly sweet, smooth malt body balanced by a spicy, earthy hoppiness on the way to a clean finish. Spring-clean, you might say.