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On Tap: Slate Creek in Coeur d’Alene aims to reopen in March

Longtime Slate Creek taproom manager, bartender and sales representative Danica Gilbert will re-open the shuttered Coeur d’Alene taproom in March. Popular brews 6 Weight IPA and the flagship Norse Nectar will be back. (Slate Creek Brewing Co.)
Longtime Slate Creek taproom manager, bartender and sales representative Danica Gilbert will re-open the shuttered Coeur d’Alene taproom in March. Popular brews 6 Weight IPA and the flagship Norse Nectar will be back. (Slate Creek Brewing Co.)

A closed Coeur d’Alene brewery is making a comeback, while a growing Spokane Valley brewery is bringing its beer to the Lake City – both with women at the helm:

Slate Creek, which shut down in October, is preparing to reopen on a smaller scale as soon as St. Patrick’s Day.

“It’s more than just a taproom and a brewery, it’s like a family,” longtime employee and new owner Danica Gilbert said of Slate Creek’s customers. “It will be great to get everyone back together.”

It’s the second North Idaho brewery to be revived by a previous employee. Downdraft in Post Falls, which announced its closure two days after Slate Creek, was reopened last month by a former server and her husband.

Gilbert was with Slate Creek since it launched in 2013 as a bartender, taproom manager, sales representative and occasional helper with the brewing. “All winter long I’ve been getting emails and texts from people asking, when’s the brewery coming back,” she said.

She finally worked out an agreement to buy the business along with a partner, longtime customer Andy Neels. Since he’s living in Alaska, Gilbert will be running things as the sole employee for now.

“I’ll be brewing, bartending every night, the whole show,” she said. “I want to be behind the bar. That’s what I love, seeing everyone.”

Slate Creek’s main 15-barrel brewing system was sold separately after the closure, so Gilbert will be brewing on the two-barrel (60-gallon) pilot system. She started Tuesday with the 6 Weight IPA, to be followed by the flagship Norse Nectar juniper pale ale.

To help fill the eight taps (with more on the way), there also will be guest beers from other area breweries.

Slate Creek beers will only be available in the taproom for now. Outside distribution could resume someday, possibly by contracting with other breweries to make beer on their larger systems.

Badass Backyard on Saturday opens a satellite taproom in the back of the Coeur d’Alene Fresh retail complex. Hours will be Thursday through Sunday from noon to 7 p.m. (8 on Friday-Saturday).

It’s the first in what could be a series of brewery outlets in the “general store” at 317 E. Coeur d’Alene Ave., which features works by a variety of artisans.

The 80-square-foot space will have only four taps and five seats. “It’s really small, kind of like a speakeasy, almost,” Badass owner Charlene Honcik said.

It’s a way for the Valley brewery to test the waters in North Idaho, said Honcik, who grew up in the Coeur d’Alene area. If all goes well, she said, Badass could eventually open a larger, more permanent taproom and a second brewery.

For now, she and partner Kendra Wiiest are busy running their home-based brewery and nearby taproom in the Argonne Mission Center. It’s open seven days a week with the recent addition of Monday hours.

“We’ve gone from one day a month to every day,” said Honcik, who started serving her beers at home the first Saturday of each month in August 2015. “We definitely took the long route, but it’s been fun.”

Production is expected to double this year, to 240 barrels, thanks to a new 3.5-barrel brewing system, up from the previous half-barrel. That’s allowed limited distribution to accounts including nYne Bar & Bistro and Lost Boys’ Garage.

The old system still is used for two small-batch releases each Thursday, based largely on customer requests.

Badass again is participating in the annual collaboration brew day organized by the Pink Boots Society, which supports women in the brewing industry.

This year’s beer is an IPA using a special hop blend released for the occasion. There’s a meeting at the taproom Thursday at 2 p.m. to finalize the recipe, which will be brewed March 8 on International Women’s Day.

Anyone interested is welcome to join in, Honcik said, whether they’ve brewed beer before or not – even guys, “if they’re man enough to wear pink.”

Trickster’s scores in NYC

Trickster’s was named Idaho Brewery of the Year at the seventh annual New York International Beer Competition.

The Coeur d’Alene brewery won a silver medal for its Juice Box IPA and bronze for its American Stout in the competition, judged by beverage industry buyers based on quality and price. There were more than 600 entries from 14 countries.

Freshly tapped

Post Falls Brewing is pouring a hazy, juicy New England-style imperial IPA, the Stallion (9.6 percent alcohol by volume, 84 International Bitterness Units).

No-Li’s latest is a light, pub-only RAB’s Pale (5, 25) hopped with Cascade, Comet and Amarillo for grapefruit, orange and apricot aroma and flavor.

The newest Northern Cross release in Selkirk Abbey’s non-Belgian line is a Russian imperial stout (9.4).

Save the date

River City releases a new Riverkeeper IPA for its monthly First Friday party in the brewery starting at 4, with food from 3 Ninjas and live music. The recipe changes each year for the beer, which benefits the Spokane Riverkeeper water protection program.

Perry Street Brewing celebrates its fourth anniversary March 9 and 10 with beer and food specials plus raffles to benefit nearby Grant Elementary School.

For a full rundown of local beer events and news see www.spokane7.com/blog/ontap.