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Wednesday, April 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Craft Beer Fest returns to Avista with top-notch lineup

Get ready for a winning lineup of local and regional craft beer along with your October baseball.

The Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival returns to Avista Stadium, home of the minor league Spokane Indians, the weekend of Oct. 2-3.

That’s a week later than last year, to avoid conflicts with the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, which moved from its usual first weekend in October to this weekend.

Last year, its first at Avista, the local festival made money for the first time after four years downtown in Riverfront Park.

“We’re thrilled to be back at Avista Stadium,” said Eric Radovich, executive director of the sponsoring Washington Beer Commission, which did extra promotion for the event during the Indians season.

This year’s roster features 31 breweries (down one from last year), with 19 hailing from east of the Cascades.

Newcomers include a pair of local breweries that weren’t open last year, Black Label and Badass Backyard; Moses Lake’s Ten Pin, a recent addition to the Inland Northwest Ale Trail; and three from Western Washington: Der Blokken (Bremerton), Pike (Seattle) and Three Magnets (Olympia).

Along with most Spokane-area brewers, returnees include such West Side crowd favorites as Seattle’s Fremont and Elysian, Bellingham’s Boundary Bay and Mukilteo’s Diamond Knot. Among the highlights:

Pumpkin beers: Look for renditions of the fall favorite from Big Barn (with farm-fresh gourds), Elysian, Iron Goat, Steam Plant and Two Beers. Hopped Up and Paradise Creek are bringing pumpkin porters, Schooner Exact a whiskey barrel-aged imperial, Black Label has a roasted pumpkin ESB, and River City is pouring a Made the Hard Way pumpkin peach (after the infamous Budweiser Super Bowl ad).

Oktoberfests: There will be examples of the malty German lager style from Der Blokken, Georgetown, Icicle, Republic, Steam Plant, Top Frog and Waddell’s.

Fresh hop: In addition to several local versions (see following item), favorites Fremont Cowiche Canyon and Paradise Creek Alpha Madness return along with offerings from Riverport, Three Magnets, Twelve Bar Brews and Two Beers.

Other seasonals: Boundary Bay is bringing its Harvest Rye, Diamond Knot its dark Storm Surge and Pike its Harlot’s Harvest, while Fish and Fremont get a head start on winter with Winterfish and Bonfire, respectively.

Barrel-aged beers: They continue to explode, with the likes of Fremont’s bourbon Dark Star imperial stout (both regular and Randalled through coffee beans); Iron Goat’s whiskey barrel Cap’n Kidd Scotch and Goatnik Russian imperial stout; No-Li’s Barley Bash (whiskey barrel Mosh Pit tart cherry) and whiskey-aged, pumpkin-spiced Rise & Grind coffee stout; River City’s wine barrel huckleberry, and a bourbon barrel vanilla bean stout (Saturday only); Top Frog’s whiskey-barrel Jack Frog rye IPA; and Twelve String’s bourbon barrel Volume 3 imperial red and Double Drop D Stout, and rum barrel Coconut Imperial Porter.

Sours: The small but growing category includes Hopped Up’s apricot-infused Autumn Smash, Iron Goat’s blackberry apricot, Paradise Creek’s Huckleberry Pucker, River City’s TW Frankensour (dosed with naturally soured, 1996-vintage huckleberry ale) and a gose from Ten Pin.

Fruit beers: Both Badass and Schooner Exact are bringing raspberry wheats, while Ten Pin will pour a pineapple one. Big Barn has a blackberry porter, Hopped Up its lemon cream and No-Li a cask of orangey Brass Monkey conditioned with cranberries and peaches.

Also keep an eye out for Orlison’s Belgian-accented Clementine and its 2 Finger Pour, inspired by the Old Fashioned cocktail; Republic’s smoky Wildfire rauchbier; River City’s supercharged Eisbock (Friday only); and a firkin blend of Twelve String’s Double Drop D Stout and Belgian Dark Strong. (Plus, of course, more IPAs than you can shake a fungo bat at.)

There’s more to the event than the beer. Live music will again come from the stage near second base, there will be baseball-themed activities along the infield, and food will be available for purchase from Veraci Pizza and 3 Ninjas.

As well as online (, you can pick up advance tickets at Big Barn, English Setter, Hopped Up, Iron Goat, the Steam Plant, Ten Pin and Top Frog in Newport.

Fresh sheet

Fall is fresh hop season, and area brewers have been busy tossing those into an array of concoctions.

First up were Twelve String’s Simcoe IPA – which starts soft and juicy, with a bitter, piney-spicy finish – and a pair of Simcoe/Citra IPAs from Perry Street: a crisp golden session with a huge tropical nose and grassy finish, and a more subdued, rich amber regular version.

More Simcoe/Citra combos should be on tap by the time you read this from Iron Goat and Trickster’s. Still to come are an all-Equinox from Twelve String; an all-Mosaic from River City; an Equinox/Mosaic from Trickster’s; Waddell’s all-Comet rendition; a Chinook from Black Label with pink grapefruit zest; a Cascadian dark ale collaboration by Big Barn and Steam Plant, with Cascades from Big Barn’s farm; community beers using customer-grown hops from Iron Goat, Slate Creek and Mad Bomber; and a red kettle sour from No-Li hopped with fresh Amarillo.

Save the date

• MickDuff’s Hoptoberfest on Saturday in Sandpoint will include the debut of its fresh hop Simcoe IPA.

• Crafted in Coeur d’Alene celebrates Octoberfest on Saturday with live music, German food and seasonal beers.

• Valleyfest, on Saturday at CenterPlace, will serve local beers for the first time, from Valley brewers English Setter and Hopped Up.

• The Steam Plant’s Food Trucks, Blues & Brews Festival on Sunday features nine food trucks, two bands and guest beers from Black Label, New Boundary and Perry, along with Liberty cider. Admission is $25 for adults (includes food and beer samples), $17.50 for ages 13-20 and $10 for 12 and younger (food only). 

• The Blackbird kicks off its brewery dinner series Tuesday with a five-course menu paired with sour beers from New Belgium; cost is $80 (includes tax and tip).

• Fresh hop beers both local and beyond will flow at Yakima’s Fresh Hop Ale Festival Oct. 3, and The Lantern Tap House’s annual Freshtival Oct. 8-9.

Honor roll

Three River City beers were named best of the Northwest/Pacific region in this summer’s United States Beer Tasting Championship judging: River City Red, Inconceivable Imperial Pilsner and Congratulator Doppelbock.

Send beer news, comments and questions to senior correspondent Rick Bonino at

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