There’s a new player on the local beer scene, and his name is Randall.
Actually, it’s Randall the Enamel Animal – a special tap system created by the quirky folks at Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery to infuse beer with extra flavors as it’s poured.
While originally intended to enhance hop character, Randalls are being used with a wide variety of ingredients. Spokane’s River City Brewing, which uses it on Fridays and Saturdays, has filled it with such combinations as Afternoon IPA on grapefruit and rosemary, Heritage Pale over oak chips and Golding hops, and Girlfriend Golden with jalapeño, cilantro and lime.
“I would have never thought of doing that one,” said Emily Schwartz, River City’s marketing and sales director. “It turned out really good.”
The brewery has a list of future flavorings to test out, she said, and also will solicit suggestions on Facebook.
“People are constantly looking for something new to try,” Schwartz said. “This is one way of keeping up with that without having a new beer every week.”
It’s also a low-key way to experiment with things that might turn into new beers without brewing whole test batches, said Mark Irvin, brewmaster/co-owner at No-Li Brewhouse.
“It’s a neat and easy way to see how different flavors can play with different beers,” Irvin said. “If something works really well, you might want to do something bigger with that.”
No-Li, which just acquired its Randall, will use it for the first time at its small batch beer festival Aug. 23, pouring Dry Fly wheat whiskey barrel-aged Jet Star Imperial IPA over whole Nugget hops. (For ticket information, see noli12.eventbrite.com.)
Nothing in particular is planned yet after that, Irvin said. Just don’t expect what he witnessed at a recent West Side festival: a Randall filled with Baby Ruth bars. “I don’t think it was a huge hit,” he said.
Most Randall offerings are single-day affairs. While heartier ingredients like wood chips and coffee beans can hold up longer, hops and fruits lose their flavor more quickly.
When Iron Goat poured a brown ale over toasted coconut, said co-brewer/owner Paul Edminster, “The coconut has so much sugar, the first few pints were really sweet. After that, the toasted flavor started coming out more. Over the course of two hours, it changed drastically.”
Iron Goat, which also has done pale ales with orange and ginger, uses its Randall sparingly. So does Ramblin’ Road, where brewer/owner Brian Guthrie has fashioned four homemade devices out of modified water filters; he served an IPA through whole Citra hops at last September’s Inland NW Craft Beer Festival and likely will do something similar this year.
For the curious – and ambitious – Dogfish Head even sells a home version: the (literally) pint-sized Randall Jr., which you fill with beer and flavorings, refrigerate to steep and pour through a filter.
And if you want to put candy bars in it, well, that’s your own business.
Tickets are on sale online for this year’s Inland NW Craft Beer Festival, Sept. 26-27 at a new location: Avista Stadium, home of the Spokane Indians, in place of the previous Riverfront Park.
Brewery booths will be set up along the outfield wall, with a music stage near second base and baseball-themed activities on the infield. Advance tickets are $20, which includes six 5-ounce samples; for details, see washingtonbeer.com/festivals.
• English Setter in Spokane Valley has been offering variations on some of its standard styles, including a Tri-Color Blonde (6.2 percent alcohol by volume, 58 International Bitterness Units) that’s sweeter and mellower than the regular Fetching Blonde; Powder Smoke Porter (5.6, 40), more roasty and aggressive than the previous Llewellin Porter; and a dark amber, single-hop Over/Under IPA (5.5, 85) with piney Chinook notes.
• The latest in a series of single-hop pales at Perry Street (all 5.0, 30) gets its orange hue from Maris Otter malt, and orange flavor and grassy, lightly bitter finish from Amarillo hops.
• It’s saison season at Selkirk Abbey in Post Falls. The rye-accented St. Augustine returns this month, while Saturday sees the release of a simple, dry Triathlon Saison brewed in conjunction with the Coeur d’Alene Triathlon.
Fill ’er up
Spokane’s first Growler Guys outlet has opened at 9329 N. Newport Highway, in the Heritage Village shopping center. Its 48 taps offer an impressive variety of local, regional and national brews priced mostly between $10 and $13 (more for certain specialties). Hours are 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Sundays, until 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A free glass growler will be given away with each fill during grand opening weekend Aug. 15-17.
Save the date
• The area’s newest homebrew shops both have special events this month.
Hot August Knights, Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. in the parking lot of Two Knights Homebrew, 3920 W. Fifth Ave., features local beer and food for sale along with live music and classic cars; admission is $8.
And Nu Home Brew & Bottles, 14109 E. Sprague Ave., celebrates its first anniversary Aug. 22 with discounts all day for new brewers, and demonstrations, samples and presentations starting at 5 p.m.
• Kickoff events for this year’s Inland NW Ale Trail continue Tuesday at Post Street Ale House, 1 N. Post St.; Aug. 16 at The Lantern Tap House, 1004 S. Perry St.; and Aug. 21 at Pints Alehouse, 10111 N. Newport Highway. All will run from 5-8 p.m. and offer at least 10 beers from the 27 breweries on the map.
• This summer’s Silver Mountain Brewsfest, Aug. 16 at the ski resort north of Kellogg, will feature 36 beers from 18 regional breweries along with live music. For ticket information see store.silvermt.com.
• Also on Aug. 16, the second annual Ales for the Trail festival at Coeur d’Alene’s McEuen Park will benefit the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation; for details, see www.nictf.org.