This is one in an occasional series of 7 Sips interviews, where we sit down for a pint and seven questions with someone active in the local craft beer community. Today we catch up with Patrick McPherson, whose Manito Tap House gastropub has been wildly successful since opening on Spokane’s South Hill in September 2011. McPherson’s next project is The Blackbird, expected to launch April-May in the historic Broadview Dairy building (formerly Caterina Winery) just north of downtown on Washington Street.
Q: Manito Tap House has been open for more than three years now. What have you learned about Spokane craft beer consumers?
A: There’s a sophisticated base of beer drinkers, and they’re really concerned with looking for unique styles and they really care about the quality of the beer. Then there are other consumers that are just looking to drink local beers. We certainly try to cater a little bit to both, but we don’t want to sacrifice quality. Our goal all along, while we want to support the local craft beer industry, we also want to bring beers to Spokane that other bars and restaurants won’t carry. Avery Tweak (a barrel-aged imperial coffee stout), which we just had on, was the second most expensive beer we’ve ever had. A lot of places don’t put those on, so we want to bring beers to Spokane that just aren’t here. … (People’s) tastes are evolving. Sours are certainly really popular, and more and more they’re seeking out new styles that they’ve never had.
Q: How would you judge the progress of local breweries over those three years?
A: Well, I certainly think it gets better and better every day. There’s still a few where I don’t think they’re quite ready for the mainstream, though they’ve got their fans that come into the brewery and buy their beer. I think if you came and did a blind tasting, which we like to do a lot of blind tastings here with our staff and sometimes our customers, I think you can really pick out very sophisticated or evolved beers versus some of the new brewers who started as homebrewers and they’re trying to open a brewery. I’m just surprised how many people are getting into brewing without seasoned brewmasters. It’s an uphill battle for a homebrewer to make the conversion without any (commercial) experience, in this competitive landscape.
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