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Trickster’s latest treats: cask beers, barrel aging, cans

On the verge of turning 2 years old, Trickster’s is growing up fast.

The Coeur d’Alene brewery is launching a weekly cask series, beginning a barrel-aging program and preparing to can its beers, along with the addition of a new head brewer.

After a few initial experiments, a new cask-conditioned beer should start showing up most Fridays, beginning today with Feel the Love CDA, a fresh-hop Cascadian dark ale flavored with coffee and oak chips.

“It just brings something new to the table,” said owner Matt Morrow. “These are things you’re never going to see again.”

Trickster’s cask beers are a hybrid, naturally carbonated in the keg with added flavorings but poured through a regular carbon dioxide tap. The creamier result is somewhere between a typical beer and a traditional cask ale served through a hand pump.

One sixth-barrel keg of each cask beer is being distributed to outside accounts, with the remaining two set aside for the taproom.

The regular version of Feel the Love is also pouring at the brewery. Heavy on Simcoe hops, along with Mosaic, Chinook, Citra and the lesser-seen Sorachi Ace, the malty, opaque brown beer has coconut notes up front and a bit of bubblegum-like fruitiness in the finish (a Sorachi hallmark).

It’s the first recipe developed entirely by new head brewer Evan Ruud, whose family owns Old Schoolhouse Brewing in Winthrop, Washington. After starting out there, he worked at Ska Brewing in Durango, Colorado – like Morrow, though not at the same time – before coming back to the Northwest.

Ruud’s brother, Blaze, recently became production manager for Yakima Chief, one of the world’s top hop providers. That connection that already has come in handy for fresh hop beers like Feel the Love.

“His family is becoming well-established in the area, so it made sense for him to tap into that,” Morrow said of Ruud’s return.

His presence also allows Morrow to focus more on big-picture planning, like the line of canned beers expected to launch around the first of the year.

Shape Shifter IPA, Bear Trap Brown and the seasonal Soul Warmer Porter (which started rolling out on draft this week) will be the first to go into six-packs of 12-ounce cans. Trickster’s kolsch will replace the porter next summer, with Inspector Stonewall’s Amber also scheduled to join in at some point.

The brewery’s barrel program began this week, though the results won’t be seen for some time. A reserve of last year’s Naughty Nick winter oatmeal stout – made with cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar – went into a wine barrel along with lactobacillus for a sour touch. Morrow says it will stay there at least six months before being bottled in 22-ounce bombers.

Beyond all that, Trickster’s is stepping up its Spokane distribution (particularly on the North Side); installing a new grain mill that will increase efficiency, paving the way for an imperial IPA; and preparing to boost its production capacity to handle the canning.

And then there’s that second anniversary party to plan. Mark your calendar for Nov. 29 and look for more details here later.

Freshly tapped

• Waddell’s and River City are serving their second fresh-hop collaboration (5.2 percent alcohol by volume), brewed entirely with fruity, earthy Equinox hops.

• English Setter’s new seasonal Crockett Setter Porter (4.9) features coffee and caramel notes.

• Budge Brothers is getting a jump on Thanksgiving with The Dirty Pilgrim (8.5), a subtly flavored, lightly sweet imperial brown ale brewed with homemade cranberry sauce.

Save the date

• The Lantern Tap House’s Elysian Pumpkin Beer Festival continues today and Saturday with four different pumpkin ales from the Seattle brewery on tap each day, plus live music at 10 p.m. Also ongoing is the pumpkin festival at Post Street Ale House, with a half-dozen rotating pumpkin beers being poured daily.

• There’s still time to make reservations for the Kootenai River brewers’ dinner Sunday at Hills’ Restaurant and Lounge. Each of four courses will be paired with a Kootenai River beer, including the McGreagor Scottish Ale that just won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival. Cost is $49; call (509) 747-3946.

• Mad Bomber Brewing in Hayden celebrates its first anniversary Nov. 1. Look for the return of many of the most popular beers from the past year, plus new offerings including a strong, dark, barrel-aged Black Hand anniversary ale and an unusual (and accidental) soured fresh hop IPA.

• Seventeen local and regional breweries are lined up for the PowderKeg winter beer festival, Nov. 7-8 at the Spokane Convention Center as part of the Snowlander Expo. Ticket packages range from $15 to $25, plus $7 Expo entry; see snowlanderexpo.com.

Send beer news, comments and questions to senior correspondent Rick Bonino at boninobeer@comcast.net.

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