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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Find your tree, toast the season at Big Barn Brewing

Today marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season (though the grocery store Muzak got a jump start), and Big Barn Brewing is feeling the spirit.

The brewery is located at Bodacious Berries, Fruits and Brews on Green Bluff, which is selling Christmas trees this season for the first time. And it’s reopening to the public starting this weekend, on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.

Beer will be flowing in the actual big barn where it’s made, not the usual, smaller taproom building, which is uninsulated. You can ride the wagon to cut a tree (six varieties to choose from), then return for a pint, or hot cider or cocoa, by the new wood stove.

There’s also a new beer for the occasion: Fallow India pale ale (7.2 percent alcohol by volume, 135 International Bitterness Units), which owner/brewer Craig Deitz calls the best IPA he’s made yet.

The reddish-brown beer is brewed with Deitz’s go-to Centennial hops along with Amarillo, the latter adding a fruity touch. But it’s not all about the hops, he said: “For the IBUs, it has a nice malt finish.”

Freshly tapped

• Waddell’s welcomes winter with its big, deeply malty Lost Woods (8 percent ABV, 57 IBU). The mahogany-colored beer has lots of dark toffee flavor balanced by some roasted malts and Cascade and Hallertau hops. Look for it at Mt. Spokane when the lodge opens for the season.

• River City’s Deep Thaw Winter Warmer (8.3, 39) has a brighter caramel sweetness along with rye malt spiciness and earthy, herbal hop notes from U.S. Goldings.

• Iron Goat takes a different tack with its Belsnickel (7.5, 28), a traditional German-style Weihnachtsbier (Christmas beer) named after Santa’s sidekick in that culture, who beats bad children with switches so they’ll be good. It has a complex maltiness from Vienna and Special B, the latter contributing dark fruit flavors, with a spicy touch from Tettnang hops.

The Goat also has brought back last year’s lightly sweet seasonal Chocolate Cherry Stout (7.8, 25), with a little lactose added this time to enhance the chocolate.

• The latest release in Twelve String’s specialty Crescendo series is a reprise of the IPA (7, 80) that started it all last January. The new version of the copper-colored beer is made with Mosaic hops along with the previous Simcoe, Centennial and Ahtanum.

• Slate Creek’s seasonal Pow Day (6.3, 70) is a hearty brown ale brewed with hazelnut

• Look for two new offerings at Perry Street, on opposite ends of the spectrum: a big barleywine (9.0, 85), and a lighter ginger-cardamom-rose hip saison.

Save the date

• Tricksters in Coeur d’Alene celebrates its second anniversary Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. with seven beers on tap at discount prices plus free food, games and raffle drawings between 2 and 5 (you earn one ticket for each pint or growler fill), including two grand prizes of a free pint per day for a year.

• Sixteen breweries along the Inland Northwest Ale Trail will be on hand for Yelp’s Beertopia, Wednesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Black Diamond, 9614 E. Sprague Ave. For $5, you get tickets for five 2-ounce beer samples plus appetizers, with pints available for purchase. You must create a Yelp account and RSVP to attend; for details, see http://www.yelp.com/events/spokane-wa-us.

• The 18th annual 12 Ales of Christmas, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Capone’s in Coeur d’Alene, features a dozen winter beer samplers along with a commemorative cup, buffet, T-shirt, ugly sweater contest and taxi ride home (in the Coeur d’Alene area). Tickets are $50, at the pub.

• Iron Goat is hosting a brewer’s dinner Dec. 10 with five courses prepared by 3 Ninjas, each accompanied by a 12-ounce pour. Tickets are $45; call (509) 474-0722.

Send beer news, comments and questions to senior correspondent Rick Bonino at boninobeer@comcast.net.
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