English Setter Brewing is a somewhat old dog attempting a new trick.
Owner/brewer Jeff Bendio, a longtime home winemaker, has had his license to make and sell beer since fall 2012. The mechanical design engineer originally operated a small side business out of his Spokane Valley garage, mostly providing beer for weddings and other special events.
Over time, he said, “Neighbors would come over, wanting to borrow some beer. Then they started dragging chairs over. We thought, ‘This is getting out of control.’ ”
So Bendio, 57, and his wife, Anita, 50, decided to take the plunge. Their new brewpub, in the former Caruso’s sandwich shop on the south end of the Spokane Business & Industrial Park, officially opened Feb. 1.
The airy, high-ceilinged space comfortably seats 75 at the black wooden tables Bendio built. The feel is slightly industrial, with corrugated metal lining the front of the bar and the taps on the wall behind.
But mainly, it’s about dogs – from the photos of English setters covering the walls (mostly the Bendios’ own Faith and Sadie) to the metal popcorn bowls embossed with a pawprint design.
The pub-style menu of appetizers, sandwiches and flatbread pizzas is prepared in an infrared convection oven that crisps foods without frying them in oil. “You don’t have to feel guilty,” Anita said.
A three-barrel system turns out six standard beers that Bendio has developed over his three years of brewing. The lightest, On-Point Pale (4.7 percent alcohol by volume, 55 International Bitterness Units), is what he calls his “2 p.m. sunshine beer in the summer.”
The medium-bodied Fetching Blonde (6.5, 70) – a photo of Anita with Sadie adorns the tap handle – is robust for the style, with a noticeable hop presence. “If you see a fetching blonde going down the road, she’s got a little more to her than the other blondes,” Bendio said.
Llewellin Porter (5.4, 26.5) is more mild-mannered, skewing closer to a red than a stout in both color and flavor, with a touch of chocolate and no real roastiness. The food-friendly Chukar Nose Amber (6.7, 54) is malt-focused and lightly sweet.
A pair of IPAs – Wiggly Butt (6.6, 75) and Wild Flush (6.6, 120) – use the same hops as the blonde (Chinook, Centennial, Cascade and Simcoe), but in different amounts and added at different times. The result is a more upfront hoppiness in the former, and a back-of-the-throat experience in the latter, though both seem a bit rough around the edges.
Once Bendio has the basics on a firm footing, he’ll begin brewing some seasonals, largely from recipes he’s never done before. New tricks, indeed.
• Another local brewery that’s distributed on a smaller scale since 2012, Ramblin’ Road, has opened its taproom at 730 N. Columbus St., just north of No-Li Brewhouse.
Three Belgian-style beers are on tap for starters – regular and rye saisons, plus a lower-alcohol grisette – with more Belgian and American styles on the way. Look for more details in a future On Tap.
• No-Li has added a new beer to its standard lineup: Empire No. 8 (5.5 ABV, 67 IBU), a citrusy, all-Cascade India pale ale that offers hopheads an easier-drinking alternative to the stronger Born & Raised and Jet Star. Look for it on draft now and in bottles next month.
And set to debut Friday is the next No Boundaries draft specialty, Brewers Breakfast, an oatmeal coffee milk stout made with doughnut mix from Spokane’s zombie-themed Dawn of the Donut.
• Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hopped Up is pouring a not-too-sweet, lightly spiced orange vanilla porter made with orange zest and cinnamon sticks. There’s also a richly malty No-Name Brown, slightly roasty with caramel and nutty notes.
• Following in the footsteps of the stronger 12 and 10, Selkirk Abbey has tapped 8, a seasonal Belgian dubbel. Guilt, a porter brewed with DOMA coffee, has joined the regular lineup and will be bottled shortly.
• Orlison next week is launching a hoppy Pilsner 37 in partnership with Team Gleason, the charitable foundation of former WSU and NFL football player Steve Gleason that helps people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Gleason wore No. 37 with the New Orleans Saints.
• A release party for the collaborative triple IPA brewed by Iron Goat and Ninkasi will be Thursday at 5 p.m. at Jones Radiator, 120 E. Sprague Ave.