It’s been a long and winding journey for Whistle Punk Brewing to arrive in downtown Spokane.
The brewery originally was licensed in late 2013 as Hanson Brothers, but ran into a trademark issue with the singing Hanson brothers (of ’90s “MMMBop” fame) – who happen to have a beer produced under their name called Mmmhops.
With that finally settled, the newly christened Whistle Punk (an old logging term for the guy who blew the whistle on a steam donkey) began distributing to bars on a limited basis in late 2015 to test the market, while searching for a suitable taproom location.
After a few false starts, it landed in the former Brooklyn Nights lounge at 122 S. Monroe St., off Railroad Alley between First and Second Avenues. The grand opening was last week for Spokane Craft Beer Week.
“I really liked that bar. I hung out there quite a bit,” said co-owner Matt Hanson. “It’s kind of funny to be here now.”
He and his father, Craig (the longtime wrestling coach at East Valley High School) still make the beer on a modest three-barrel home-based system in Newman Lake. They haul it downtown to serve with the help of Matt’s mother, Jeneen, and wife, Daniella.
They exposed more of the sunken space’s wood-beamed ceiling and brick and rock walls, and built an assortment of high and low tables (some of the latter at windows overlooking the alley).
The copper-topped bar from Brooklyn Nights remains. An extension, covered with pennies to match the motif, continues into a formerly closed-off back space for additional seating.
A wood-and-metal brewery logo sign hangs from old chains that Craig Hanson used in his early days as a logger, before he began teaching. Historic logging photos will soon adorn the walls, along with an autographed one from those other Hansons (part of the settlement).
As busy as they’ve been with all of that, they’ve been just as busy brewing to fill their 14 taps, most of which will rotate among various styles.
“We want to brew new things all the time,” Matt Hanson said. (The lineup is updated daily at whistlepunkbrewing.com.)
There will be a couple of permanent offerings, including the Coast to Coast IPA – soft, hazy and juicy in the New England style, with a touch of West Coast bitterness – and an espresso milk stout conditioned on bourbon-soaked vanilla beans and blended with cold brew Anvil coffee. With a huge coffee nose and more balanced, smooth flavor from chocolate malt, it drinks far easier than its 7.1 percent alcohol by volume.
Other hoppy offerings so far have been fruit-forward, including a pale ale with orange-y Mandarina Bavaria and a bright Belgian-style spring IPA (look for a Mosaic/Ekuanot IPA this weekend). Adventurous palates will enjoy the sweeter, more resinous imperial.
There will always be some lagers – like the unfiltered Bohemian-style pilsner and German festbier, both with delicate but substantial malt characters – and some saisons. The standard saison, earthy and increasingly citrusy as it opens up, is brewed with rye, oats and wheat; it’s accompanied by a wheat saison conditioned on Oregon strawberry puree for a clean, balanced berry flavor.
One tap is dedicated to a cider, currently the huckleberry from One Tree, which plans to open a tasting room this summer around the corner at 111 S. Madison St. There’s also a limited (for now) wine selection and non-alcoholic options including soda and sparkling water.
Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday from 3 to 11. Food is available from the neighboring Texas True BBQ.
Badass Backyard Brewing is opening a small tasting room in downtown Coeur d’Alene this summer. If all goes well, the Spokane Valley brewery expects to set up shop July 1 in the back room of Coeur d’Alene Fresh, 317 E. Coeur d’Alene Ave., a “general store” that houses an assortment of artisans and food producers. Badass is upgrading from its half-barrel (15-gallon) brewing setup to a 3.5-barrel system it expects to have in place next month.
No-Li took home two medals from this year’s Australian International Beer Awards: a silver for Big Juicy IPA, and a bronze for Born & Raised IPA. That brings its medal count in national and international competitions to 23 over the past six years.
The New England-style Hazy Disposition IPA won the Brewers’ Showdown homebrew competition at Bellwether last week. The winning team of Jim Schulte and Chad Powers will have a full-scale batch of their recipe produced by the brewery for a planned August release.
Among the new releases last week for Spokane Craft Beer Week:
Twelve String’s Rockin’ and Rollin’ Session IPK collaboration with Quartzite (5 percent alcohol by volume, 66 International Bitterness Units) is a lightly tart session-style IPA fermented with kolsch yeast – an ale yeast that works at cooler temperatures to produce some of the smooth, crisp character of a lager – and hopped with Mosaic, Simcoe and Idaho 7 for bright citrus notes.
Iron Goat has a summery Citrus IPA (6.7, 90) with blood orange and grapefruit.
Bennidito’s Brewpub is pouring a single-hop India pale lager with fruity, floral Ella (6, 50).
Daft Badger and Post Fall Brewing teamed up for a Stoney MacBadger imperial IPA (8.4, 70) brewed with white wheat and lemon-limey Motueka hops.
The Fantastic Collab between Waddell’s and Paradise Creek (6.2, 6) is a hoppy sour with Comet in the boil and Amarillo dry-hop.
No-Li’s Unbreakable sour (7.8, 32) is brewed with blueberries and guava.
Bellwether’s Simon & Gruitfunkel collaboration with Four-Eyed Guys is a cross between a gose (tart German wheat beer) and a gruit (herbed beer), with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (4.5, 3).
The 5 Mile Hefeweizen (5.8, 20) at Black Label is in the Bavarian style with hints of banana and clove.
Apps and maps
The new Inland Northwest Ale Trail map is out, listing 44 breweries between Ellensburg to the west and Walllace to the east.
You need to collect a dozen stamps from participating breweries to receive a souvenir 32-ounce growler; this year, along with the printed map, you can follow the route and check in at breweries with an Ale Trail app (available only for Apple devices so far).
There’s also a new Washington Beer app from the state Beer Commission that provides information about breweries and beer events statewide, and serves as an electronic passport for Washington Beer Lovers (WABL) members. It’s available for both Apple and Android.
And a new interactive Beer Me app from The Spokesman-Review (spokesman.com/apps/beerme) helps you find local beers you might like based on your flavor preferences.
Save the date
An Orlison pint night Wednesday will benefit Camp Journey for children with cancer.
Oregon’s Double Mountain comes to Coeur d’Alene’s Filling Station on 5th for a tap takeover Thursday .
Downdraft has a Luau Party for First Friday on June 2.
Also on June 2, Bellwether hosts a benefit for Cup of Cool Water, which supports homeless youths.