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On Tap: Bellwether celebrates meads and ales at second Braggotfest

Thomas Croskrey, left and Dave Musser run Bellwether Brewing Co. on North Monroe Street. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Thomas Croskrey, left and Dave Musser run Bellwether Brewing Co. on North Monroe Street. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Bellwether is mixing things up, literally, for its second annual Braggotfest.

Instead of braggot-style ales brewed with honey, this year’s event July 21 will focus on a variety of regular beers blended with mead from Green Bluff’s Hierophant.

Some think that’s how braggots were invented by the ancient Celtic and Nordic peoples, said Bellwether’s Thomas Croskrey. “They liked it, so they started co-fermenting (barley and honey together),” he said.

With beer/mead “table blends,” Croskrey explained, “There’s definitely a unified flavor, but it’s more distinct what the two elements are.”

The possibilities are endless. For example, Bellwether bartender Ty Johnson recently combined the brewery’s lighter Session Stout with Hierophant’s raspberry mead for a fruity, chocolaty treat.

Four meads will be featured for Braggotfest: straight, hopped and two to be determined. They’ll be blended not only with Bellwether’s beers but guest offerings from Four-Eyed Guys, Grain Shed, Mountain Lakes and Young Buck.

Some of Bellwether’s regular braggots also will be on tap, including the Celtic-style Seawolf, Four Branches braggot IPA with orange blossom honey and possibly the raspberry/mint Dankberry.

The event runs from 3 to 8 p.m. Admission is $10, which includes a tasting mug and three drink tickets (5 ounces for one ticket, 12 ounces for two); additional tickets are $3 each or four for $10.

Despite the Monroe Street construction, it’s easy to get there by taking any other north/south street up to Knox Avenue and across (Bellwether is at 2019 N. Monroe, just south of Knox).

“We’ve had some slow days with the construction, but the dominant trend is that we’re doing OK,” Croskrey said.

An ongoing series of special events helps bring in business, such as the biweekly Year of the Sainted Brewers honoring saints associated with brewing.

This Thursday, France’s Saint Arnulf of Metz, a patron saint of brewers, will be saluted starting at 3 p.m. with five small-batch beers suggested by Bellwether staffers: a coconut cream ale accented with pineapple, hoppy red, lemon-coffee ale, strawberry milkshake IPA and rhubarb sour.

More small batches will pour Saturday from 5 to 8 when six fruited IPAs will be paired with handmade pizza from the owners of a planned Spokane Valley brewpub, Bardic.

Bellwether’s regular batches just got bigger with the installation of a 10-barrel (310-gallon) system, up from the previous 1.5 barrels. That will allow for distribution around Spokane and beyond.

The first brew two weeks ago was a session saison with triticale and rye from MJW Grain in Ritzville, followed by a hoppy red oat ale.

Honor roll

No-Li has won its 27th and 28th international medals. Red, White & No-Li pale and Falls Porter both brought home bronze from the recent Australian International Beer Awards, billed as the world’s largest annual competition.

Freshly tapped

TT’s Old Iron (at The Steel Barrel) is celebrating its first anniversary with an imperial version of its Magneto IPA (8 percent alcohol by volume, 80 International Bitterness Units).

The Hoppy Seconds at Downdraft is a big, bitter, generously dry-hopped West Coast-style IPA (7.6, 105).

Millwood Brewing’s Summer Session IPA (5.1, 60) is a lighter, fruitier version of the regular Millbilly IPA.

Bennidito’s new Amarillo IPA (6.8, 65) is brewed with both hop extract and pellets. Also look for single-hop variations on the Sigrid Kolsch (Mandarina) and Checkerboard Pale (Centennial).

English Setter is serving a small-batch, campfire-inspired Ruffin’ It black IPA (5.8, 84) made with mesquite smoked malt.

Look for a rich, malty Mud Slinger amber (8, 54) at Hopped Up.

Big Barn releases its Strawberry Blonde today, while fellow Green Bluff brewery 238 has a huckleberry beer due Saturday.

Serving those who serve

Two local breweries are hosting fundraisers for police and firefighter organizations.

On Saturday, 238 Brewing features the Mounted Patrol Unit from Spokane COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) from 3 to 8 with live music, barbecue, games, a silent auction and raffles; admission is $5 (younger than 12 free).

And on July 19, Badass Backyard will donate $1 from each pint sale of Quick Hit red IPA, brewed in conjunction with Spokane Valley firefighters, to their Benevolent Association for community needs.

Save the date

Daft Badger’s Pau Hana Hawaiian costume party Saturday from noon to 9 will include live and DJ music plus Hawaiian-style burgers.

Some 16 regional breweries are expected for the Sandpoint Beerfest on Saturday from noon to 5 on the lawn of Trinity at City Beach, along with live music and food; admission is $25, which includes a commemorative glass and six drink tokens.

The Inland Northwest chapter of Beer Choir has its monthly gathering Monday from 6:30 to 8 at Bellwether.

The Steel Barrel celebrates its second anniversary July 19 with special releases from the three house breweries plus a Beer Mile Challenge; registration is $22 in advance, $25 day-of, which includes four beers to be consumed during the race.

Fremont beers will pour for The Filling Station on 5th’s third anniversary July 21.

The fifth anniversary party July 21 at Newport’s Top Frog will feature beer specials, live music and a food truck.

For craft beer event listings,visit www.spokane7.com/ontap.