If you’re one of those folks who has a hard time choosing among 31 ice cream flavors, your head just might explode at this weekend’s Inland NW Craft Beer Festival.
Thirty Washington and North Idaho breweries will offer more than 70 different beers today and Saturday in Riverfront Park. To help you navigate the sea of suds, here’s a look at some of the more noteworthy offerings, by category (subject to last-minute changes):
• Oktoberfest: The event is no longer called Spokane Oktoberfest, but several breweries are offering the season’s traditional German-style lagers, including Icicle, Alpine, Diamond Knot, Georgetown, Northern Ales and the Steam Plant.
• Fresh-hop: Fall also is the time for brewing beers with the newly harvested hop crop. Look for three versions from Iron Goat: a light Citra session ale, strong Centennial and more moderate Spohop made from various varieties contributed by customers. Twelve String has a Simcoe IPA, while Hopped Up’s all-Centennial Mad Hopper is made with red wheat and honey malt. Fremont features organic hops from the Yakima Valley’s Cowiche Canyon, and Riverport’s Alpha Reign weighs in at a hefty 8 percent alcohol by volume.
• Pumpkin: Another fall favorite, with offerings including Elysian’s popular Night Owl; Iron Goat’s dry, malty Punkid, made with Scottish yeast; both Belgian- and American-style renditions by Ramblin’ Road; New Belgium’s cranberry-accented Pumpkick; Paradise Creek’s Punkin Porter; and Laht Neppur’s pumpkin-tinged Waitsburg Winter Warmer. The Steam Plant and Northwest Brewing also are using their gourds.
• Huckleberry: A last gasp of summer comes from Paradise Creek’s Huckleberry Pucker, a tart Berliner Weisse; Selkirk Abbey’s Belgian-style Huckleberry Wit; Wallace Brewing’s Huckleberry Lager; and River City/Coeur d’Alene Brewing’s venerable Huckleberry Ale. Hopping Frog’s fruity contribution is a raspberry ale, while Laht Neppur has a peach hefeweizen with fall spices.
• IPA: The trendy, hop-heavy style is well-represented with offerings including the complex Topcutter from Bale Breaker, located on a Yakima Valley hop farm; Budge Brothers’ big Hop Train; Yakima Craft Brewing’s lighter-bodied Vern; and Orlison’s inventive India Pale Lager, among many more. Belgian-style interpretations come from both Selkirk Abbey and Sound Brewery, while Belgian-oriented Ramblin’ Road branches out with a traditional Northwest take. Also look for spicy rye renditions from Hopping Frog, Paradise Creek, Riverport, Twelve String and New Belgium/Elysian’s Segal Ranch collaboration, while Riverport offers a rye pale.
• Barrel-aged: Iron Goat is bringing both a Scotch ale and imperial stout aged in whiskey barrels, while Twelve String will pour an assortment of styles conditioned in whiskey, wine and tequila containers. Fremont’s bourbon-barrel Kentucky Dark Star imperial oatmeal stout, a huge hit last year, will be available in both its usual elegance, and a Randall-infused coffee/vanilla version.
Also worth searching out are Dick’s smoky Scottish Ale; Republic Brewing’s smoky, German-style Wildfire Rauchbier; Iron Horse’s dark, deceptively strong Irish Death; Northern’s light, deceptively strong Honey Basil (13 percent alcohol by volume); and No-Li’s single-hop Amarillo Red. And if you don’t drink your fill at the festival tonight, stop by No-Li for an after-hours reception running until 11 p.m.
Pullman’s Paradise Creek, Laht Neppur from Waitsburg, Wash., and Sandpoint-area Laughing Dog are among the 30 breweries participating in the 11th annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival, Oct. 5 from 5 to 10 p.m. in downtown Yakima.
Laughing Dog is looking for its seventh straight medal, with three first-place, two second-place and one third-place finish over the past six years.
Tickets are $35 at the gate. For more information, see freshhopalefestival.com.
• Mad Bomber Brewing, the Hayden-based project by former Army bomb squad technicians, reached its $26,000 Kickstarter goal with an impressive last-minute push. Look for an opening in October or November.
• English Setter Brewing, which has been operating out of design engineer Jeff Bendio’s Spokane Valley garage, is moving into the former Caruso’s restaurant location at 15310 E. Marietta Ave., off Sullivan Road. Bendio hopes to have his taproom, with a limited pub menu, open by December.
• In downtown Spokane, River City is refurbishing nearby space at 111 S. Cedar St. for its tasting room, which should be ready by mid-November.
• Hopped Up, which has been in business since June at 10421 E. Sprague Ave., is hosting a grand opening celebration Oct. 5 starting at noon in conjunction with neighbor Quantum Mechanics, featuring a car and truck show and live music.