In another sign of Spokane’s burgeoning beer renaissance, a local brewery is playing with one of the big boys.
Jamie Floyd, co-founder of Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, was in town last week to brew a burly triple IPA with Iron Goat’s Greg Brandt and Paul Edminster. Floyd will return for a release party later next month.
While such collaborations among craft brewers have become common, this is the first involving a Spokane brewery.
Floyd met the Goat crew when he was here for an event a year ago, and they hit it off. “We’re both very hop-centric, and we’re into big beers,” Brandt said.
At an expected 10 to 11 percent alcohol by volume and around 100 International Bitterness Units, the yet-unnamed Ninkasi collaboration fits both bills. The recipe includes Citra, Amarillo and Mosaic hops along with a new experimental variety.
“Ninkasi understands what we’re trying to do, and it’s great to be able to work with someone like Jamie with his tremendous amount of experience,” Edminster said.
Floyd was hands-on throughout the process, climbing inside the mash tun at one point to hose it out.
“Jamie’s an extremely busy guy,” Brandt said. “It’s really cool that he took the time to do this. Having a big regional brewer like Ninkasi want to do a collaboration with us is kind of a feather in our cap.”
Fast-growing Ninkasi – the nation’s 30th-largest craft brewery, based on the most recent numbers – produced more than 90,000 barrels last year (compared with 900 for Iron Goat). It has partnered with everyone from giant Sierra Nevada (for an espresso milk stout, part of the upcoming Beer Camp Across America variety 12-pack) to tiny, heavy-metal-themed TRVE in Denver (for an IPA dubbed Hell Patrol).
After his Spokane stop, Floyd was in Boise at the end of the week to unveil The Cabaret, an India black lager co-produced with Payette Brewing.
“It gives you the opportunity to really hang out for a whole day, and it’s a chance to make a beer you might not otherwise make,” Floyd said of the collaborations.
“I learn something new every time. There are many ways to bake a cake. It’s fun to watch the different ways that people do it.”
And, he added, “We’ve been selling beer in Spokane for a long time. It’s nice to be tied in to the community.”
• This year’s post-holiday ReNEWalefrom Ninkasi is a pale ale brewed with a German-style alt yeast, which produces a sort of cross between ale and lager. At 5.4 percent ABV and 32 IBU, it starts softly malty and finishes crisp, with a touch of the trademark Ninkasi bitterness.
Also keep an eye out for a tropical-accented India red ale called Dawn of the Red, and the first in a new year-round lager series, Pravda, a hoppy Bohemian pilsner which won a gold medal at last year’s Great American Beer Festival.
• The new year also brings two of my favorite seasonals – or favorite beers, period, for that matter: Deschutes’ creamy, juicy-citrusy Red Chair pale (6.2, 60) and Sierra Nevada’s creamy, spicy-peppery Ruthless Rye IPA (6.6, 55).
• And speaking of rye, the reddish, draft-only Smoky Rye from No-Li (6.3, 28) has a pronounced initial smokiness that blends nicely into the background as the beer warms.
• Twelve String is releasing an IPA similar to its recent Rhythmic Rye – but without the rye – as the first in a new Crescendo series of one-time experimental brews.
It’s also pouring an all-Citra Arpeggio pale ale (4.7, 45) based on last fall’s fresh-hop version.
The second annual Palouse Cabin Fever Brew Fest will be Feb. 8 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the community center of the little town northeast of Pullman.
Along with returning brewers Budge Brothers, Spokane; Paradise Creek, Pullman; Riverport, Clarkston; and Twelve String, Spokane Valley, this year’s lineup includes Moscow Brewing and Laht Neppur from Waitsburg, Wash.
Tickets are $15 in advance – check locally at Budge or Twelve String – or $20 at the door, if any are left (they sold out in 15 minutes last year). That includes a commemorative pint glass and six taste tickets; for more info, see the event’s Facebook page.