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On Tap: 2018 brews in review

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time for our annual look back at the year in beer, plus a preview of what lies ahead:

Open and shut: Across the country, more than 1,000 breweries opened over the past year – pushing the total to more than 7,000 – and the Inland Northwest again did its part.

Local newcomers included Millwood Brewing and The Hidden Mother in the Spokane Valley, Mountain Lakes in downtown Spokane, Grain Shed near the Perry District and Humble Abode to the northeast. Fired Up launched in Colville while North Idaho welcomed a pair in Sandpoint – Utara and Matchwood – plus Priest Lake Brewing in Priest River.

Downdraft in Post Falls and Slate Creek in Coeur d’Alene both reopened under new ownership after closing in 2017. Also in North Idaho, Rathdrum’s Westwood Brewing began serving its own beer (brewed at Utara) after starting out as a bar and restaurant, and Coeur d’Alene’s Paragon Brewing, which opened as a gastropub in 2014, is building a brewery next door.

More additions are on the way with Masters Brewhouse on the verge of opening in Deer Park. Trails End is shooting for a summer opening in Hayden, Brick West is coming to the west end of downtown Spokane and Paramour is planned for the South Hill.

In the Valley, work continues on Liberty Lake’s Snow Eater, YaYa is taking shape on Montgomery Drive just south of Twelve String and Bardic has launched a home-based cidery as a first step toward a brewpub.

On the flip side, Orlison called it quits after nine years (beginning as Golden Hills) with No-Li taking over the Airway Heights production facility.

On the move: Among existing breweries, both The Hidden Mother and Four-Eyed Guys – which have been distribution-only – are preparing North Side taprooms, the former at Washington Street and Sharp Avenue and the latter at Monroe Street and Cleveland Avenue.

TT’s Old Iron will be the first graduate from the downtown brewery incubator at the Steel Barrel, with its own operation on the way in the Spokane Valley near Dishman-Mica and Bowdish Roads. Twelve String continues work on a new facility at First Avenue and Pines Road, two miles south of its existing brewery.

The Valley’s Badass Backyard opened a satellite Coeur d’Alene taproom in March while that city’s oldest brewery, Trickster’s, is finalizing expansion plans.

On the growler bar scene, Steady Flow Growler House took over the former River City taproom downtown to join its original Valley location, and Coeur d’Alene’s Filling Station on 5th is adding a Post Falls outlet (though the South Hill Growler Guys closed last summer).

Honor roll: There were no area winners at this year’s Great American Beer Festival following a two-year string of gold medals by Perry Street in 2016 and Orlison in 2017, but local breweries still scored big at major competitions.

No-Li became the first Spokane brewery to win in the biennial World Beer Cup, with silver for Born & Raised IPA. It also took its 27th and 28th international medals, both bronzes, at the Australian International Beer Awards.

Trickster’s Juice Box topped the National IPA Championships and also earned a silver medal in the New York International Beer Competition, where the brewery’s American Stout took bronze.

The Hidden Mother bagged both gold and silver at the Washington Beer Awards for its experimental Pine Tree Peppercorn Saison and Morel Mushroom Red, while Iron Goat had a gold, No-Li silver and River City bronze. And Badass Backyard took gold and Orlison bronze in the Bend, Oregon-based Best of Craft Beer Awards.

Going in style: Hazy New England-inspired IPAs continued as the hottest pour nationwide with most area breweries trying at least one version. And a few have attempted what could be the next big thing – bone-dry, effervescent brut IPAs – including Genus (at the Nu Home Brew supply store), Whistle Punk, Four-Eyed Guys and Black Label, which released one brewed with hemp seed and cannabis terpenes.

No-Li, meanwhile, is joining a handful of brewers across the country who are moving beyond beer into alcoholic seltzer. Day Fade Huckleberry Hard Seltzer starts rolling out next month.

Package deals: Several area breweries began putting beer in cans this year. Iron Goat, River City, Grain Shed, Whistle Punk and MickDuff’s in Sandpoint all added 32-ounce crowlers while Badass Backyard and Four-Eyed Guys started filling custom 12- and 16-ounce cans.

Over the weekend, Big Barn released its Mead Honey Lager in 12-ounce cans – available at the Green Bluff brewery, and possibly select Yokes supermarkets later – with more styles likely to follow. And Post Falls Brewing offered 22-ounce bottles of barrel-aged Big Jilm imperial porter (regular and coconut) at its taproom, with other limited releases expected in the new year.

Freshly tapped

Gingerbread Winter Warmer (9.7 percent alcohol by volume) has returned at Black Label, which also is serving a juicy new Golden Gully IPA (6).

Daft Badger has brought back its rich, seasonal Kahlua Porter (7.6) along with the bourbon barrel-aged Big Chill imperial stout (12).

Bellwether’s Wondermaker holiday stout (5.2) is brewed with allspice, clove, cinnamon, juniper, star anise and caramelized buckwheat honey.

Post Falls Brewing released a small-batch Sour Patch Punks IPA (8.1) blending strawberries with Citra and Mosaic hops.

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