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On Tap: Four-Eyed Guys, Spokane’s latest nanobrewery, brings two beers to market

THURSDAY, FEB. 9, 2017, 6 P.M.

Things are starting to come into focus for Four-Eyed Guys.

The newly licensed Spokane nanobrewery is introducing its first two beers at a pair of events Tuesday. The flagship Hoptometry IPA starts pouring at 11 a.m. at Hop Jack’s in the Spokane Valley Mall.

And at 4 p.m., a special Love at First Sight lager – infused with chocolate and rose water for Valentine’s Day – goes on tap at Left Bank Wine Bar in downtown Spokane. Also look for that nearby at Black Label Brewing and in the Valley at Steady Flow Growler House.

Brewing on a tiny one-barrel (31-gallon) system, Four-Eyed Guys plans to build a reputation by supplying select accounts while working toward an eventual taproom of its own.

“We’re just trying to get our name out there,” said co-owner and brewer Alex Rausch. “Nobody has a bad time drinking beer. Why not help spread that good vibe?”

It all started a couple of years ago when he and business partner Brian Lollis – both of whom are 25, and wear glasses – were out having a beer themselves.

“We thought it would be cool to do something like this,” Rausch said. “We just started writing down all these beer names on napkins.”

He continued doodling designs to pass time at his boring warehouse job. After he got laid off (perhaps partly as a result of all that doodling, he allows) he decided to turn the idea into reality.

Learning to brew with the help of his parents’ neighbors, Rausch made his first two beers – an IPA and a porter – for his wedding in September 2015. “I just loved it,” he said.

He and Lollis found a small commercial space along East Trent and released a few collaboration guest beers at Bellwether Brewing while waiting for their own licensing to come through. It arrived the middle of last month.

Now they’re busy lining up locations for their magnifying glass-style tap handles, which bear the brewery’s bespectacled hop cone logo.

Hop Jack’s, where both Rausch and his wife work, was a logical place to debut the Hoptometry IPA. It’s brewed with locally produced light Munich and white wheat malts from Palouse Pint, and hopped with Citra, Amarillo and Lemondrop for fruity, orange and guava flavors.

At a relatively moderate 6.3 percent alcohol by volume, “it’s a super-easy, crushable drinker,” Rausch said.

His most popular beer among friends so far has been a hoppy pilsner. “The IPA people can drink it, but light beer drinkers can enjoy it too,” he said.

Other mainstays include a coffee porter and Vienna lager. But Rausch’s real passion is for gose, the tart, salty wheat beer style that’s becoming more familiar as sours increase in popularity.

Experimenting with different salts, he’s mastered a summery watermelon version that poured at Bellwether, and for Christmas did one with fir needles and cranberry. Rausch envisions having a half-dozen rotating goses in the lineup at the taproom.

Exactly when and where that might happen remains fuzzy. Possible locations include space adjoining the brewery, or somewhere in the Indian Trail area, near where the Shadle Park High School graduate grew up.

At this point, Rausch is in no real hurry. “So far, it’s all been loan-free, and we’d like to keep it that way,” he said.

And with limited production capacity, he added, “We don’t want to grow so fast we can’t keep up. People will taste the difference in a rushed beer compared to one you take your time on.”

For now, he’s just enjoying a more creative outlet than the warehouse days, and the camaraderie among local brewers. Rausch mentions Bellwether, Black Label and Nu Home Brew’s Peter McArthur, who helped develop the Love at First Sight recipe, as particularly helpful.

“I can’t imagine a better environment,” he said. “The whole beer community is insanely friendly.”

Freshly tapped

Iron Goat is greeting Valentine’s Day with a Chocolate Raspberry Pale Ale (6.2 percent alcohol by volume, 30 International Bitterness Units) conditioned with cocoa nibs and fresh berries.

Perry Street’s big Black IPA (8.1, 81), brewed with a touch of rye flakes, is hopped with Citra, Centennial and Chinook.

Orlison’s latest ale offering is a Ride the Pine Red (6.1, 42), malty and sweet with coffee notes plus some citrus from Cascade hops and spice from Chinook.

Little Spokane’s Backbone ESB (5.5, 38) is lightly nutty and fruity.

Young Buck’s Ludicrous Speed Triple IPA (11.6, 100-plus) – big brother to the brewery’s light but flavorful Lite-Speed Session Pale (3.9, 40) – gets its spicy, piney, fruity character from a combination of Columbus, Cascade, Chinook and Pekko.

No-Li next week releases its usually draft-only golden ale in 22-ounce bottles as Beethoven Golden Ale, in advance of the Spokane Symphony’s March 10 “Beethoven and Brews” concert that will feature a No-Li beer garden. Look for it at Rosauers, Yoke’s and Total Wine stores plus the Rocket Market.

Save the date

Perry Street Brewing is again offering a speed dating session on Valentine’s Day from 7 to 8 p.m., with $3 pints for participants (sign up in advance to guarantee a spot).

The Coeur d’Alene Growler Guys on Feb. 24 will tap three versions of Epic Brewing’s acclaimed Big Bad Baptist barrel-aged imperial coffee/cocoa stout: a 2015 vintage of the regular beer plus the cinnamon-spiked Big Bad Baptista and special reserve Double Barrel.

Breweries statewide will host special events for the Washington Beer Open House on Feb. 25; look for details of local activities in the next On Tap.

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



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