While the attention lately has turned to all the newcomers, Spokane’s oldest and largest brewery isn’t standing still.
No-Li Brewhouse continues to roll out new beers, fine-tune its brewing process and upgrade its restaurant/pub. Among the highlights:
• The latest No Boundaries offering – draft-only specialties released every month or so – is a pale ale made entirely with El Dorado hops (6.7 percent alcohol by volume, 60 International Bitterness Units). It’s fairly dry, with a toasty, nutty character from Victory and Special Roast malts, and tropical fruit, apricot and melon notes.
• No Boundaries also is the name of No-Li’s small-batch beer festival on April 26 (see information box for details). It will showcase special treatments of both previous No Boundaries releases and beers from the regular lineup, such as whiskey barrel-aged versions of Spin Cycle Red, Born & Raised IPA and Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout (infused with vanilla beans), and wine-barrel Jet Star Imperial IPA. The next No Boundaries beer, Comrade Double IPA hopped with El Dorado and Amarillo, also will be introduced.
Each beer will be paired with a special small-plate menu item, similar to the Savor beer and food festival next month in Washington, D.C. For a second straight year, No-Li is among the 70-plus breweries invited to that event.
• The next Expo Series beer – quarterly seasonals, in both 22-ounce bottles and draft – will be a pilsner-styled Noble Hop ale made with American-grown Saaz and Hallertauer, due next month. “We’ll probably notch the hops up a tad from European pilsners,” brewmaster and co-owner Mark Irvin said.
• Empire No. 8 session IPA (5.5 ABV, 67 IBU), a lighter, hoppier version of the Silent Treatment pale ale (5.8, 49), is replacing Silent Treatment in the regular lineup.
Named after the Empire Builder train that runs from Chicago to Spokane, Seattle and Portland, its label imagery references Riverfront Park, Seattle’s Space Needle and Portland’s Rose Garden Arena. “It’s our attempt to bring the whole Northwest together,” said co-owner John Bryant.
• In a new program at the pub, customers who buy a six-sample taster tray ($7 for regular beers, $9 for specialties) will receive a $2 token they can either use for a merchandise discount, or donate to a local charity. This month’s charity is Big Table, which supports area restaurant workers.
• Renovations are underway in the River Room, across the hallway from the main pub, beginning with new chairs and a wooden archway over the entrance. Plans call for extending the feel of the adjoining patio, perhaps with an indoor fire pit, and adding accents with old mill wood and metal.
“We’re trying to make it more like a lodge, something you would see out at the lake,” Bryant said. “We want it to be a warm, friendly place for people to come.”
• On the brewery side, an updated filtering system and an in-house laboratory have been added for quality control, to keep the beer fresh and stable as it travels. While the focus is on the Northwest, No-Li also distributes to such far-flung markets as Hawaii, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio.
March production reached a new high of 730 barrels. The brewery will turn out around 8,000 barrels this year, up from 5,500 last year and 2,400 in 2012, when craft beer veteran Bryant came on board and the former Northern Lights became No-Li.
“We’re creating a true Northwest regional brewery,” Bryant said, adding: “It’s just building blocks. We keep building and building and building.”
• In Coeur d’Alene, Paragon Brewing is renovating the former Sully’s Pub & Grill, 5785 N. Government Way. Plans call for reopening the restaurant next month and adding a brewery this summer.
• Downdraft Brewing (formerly Cloudburst) has begun work on its space at 416 W. Seltice Way in Post Falls with an eye toward a late June opening.
• Iron Goat has started the expansion of its taproom into an adjoining former artist’s studio, which eventually will house an extended bar.
• Mad Bomber in Hayden and Budge Brothers in Spokane have added taproom days and hours: Mad Bomber on Thursdays from 2 to 10 p.m., and Budge on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m.
• Budge Brothers has begun distributing Orangutan IPA (5.0, 70), an extra dry-hopped version of the regular Orangutan pale.
• Perry Street is pouring a new Northwest Pale Ale (5.8, 40) made with Maris Otter malt for a biscuity, lightly sweet body, and a handful of hop varieties that add fruity, floral and earthy notes.
• Waddell’s, which has named beers after former Gonzaga basketball stars Casey Calvary and Dan Dickau, is honoring a different sort of hero with Red Team Belgian White. The unfiltered wheat beer salutes a former Navy SEAL Team 6 member who’s a friend of the brewery. Also debuting this week is a revamped Left Hook IPA.
• Twelve String plans to release its next limited Crescendo series beer next week, an extra special bitter (6.1, 60).
Beer for the ear
If you missed Orlison brewmaster Bernie Duenwald on the Beer O’Clock radio show last weekend, you can catch up online at kxl.com/ shows/beer-oclock. The Portland-based program airs Sundays at 5 p.m. on KYRS-FM (92.3/88.1) in Spokane.
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