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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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On Tap: Orlison celebrates expanded offerings, tap room’s first year

A lot has happened for Orlison Brewing over the past year.

Last August, the Airway Heights-based brewery opened a taproom in downtown Spokane at 1017 W. First Ave., which celebrates its anniversary Saturday.

And after specializing in lagers since launching in 2009 (originally as Golden Hills), Orlison has started adding ales to the mix to broaden its appeal.

Two new test batches will be on tap Saturday – Devil’s Toenail double IPA (named after a rock feature on the Spokane River) and Half-Day Imperial Chocolate Stout – along with revised versions of Weekend at Bernie’s IPA (honoring brewmaster Bernie Duenwald) and Palouse Pint Pale Ale, made with locally produced malt.

For lager fans, look for Havanuther light pilsner infused with grapefruit zest, a dry-hopped IPL (India pale lager) and some barrel-aged selections.

The party from 2 to 9 p.m. also features food, music by singer/guitarist Jake Johnson at 4 and raffle drawings for prizes including lift tickets to Mount Spokane and 49 Degrees North, day passes to Wild Walls Climbing Gym, a stainless steel Hydro Flask growler and pint glasses, and brewery hats and shirts.

“It’s helped people discover us,” Orlison’s operations manager, Kristen Silver, said of the taproom in the former Luxe Coffee House space. “Being out in Airway Heights, people didn’t really know who we were. It’s given us the home base that we needed.”

With 16 taps to play with, it also has provided a place to test new recipes for customer feedback, including the ale series by head brewer Blaine Serrin. Serrin, who came on board in March, previously brewed at Mack & Jack’s in Redmond, Washington, and Salmon River in McCall, Idaho.

The first full-production ale, a year-round Shin Splints IPA, debuted in April, followed by seasonal offerings Orangelicious Golden Ale and the newly released Boulder Garden Brown.

“It’s kind of evened out our portfolio, made us more popular with the general public,” Silver said. “The people who found our ales are now finding our lagers, and the people who have known our lagers have been finding our ales.”

The Palouse Pint pale and imperial stout are in line for future full releases along with a red ale and an ESB.

On the lager side, original flagship Clem’s Gold and the IPL will continue year-round. Havanuther is moving to the seasonal lineup, joining the likes of the Asian-inspired Toasted Dragon (brewed with Thai basil, lime, ginger and Szechuan peppercorns) and Roast House coffee stout.

And there’s another new twist: house-made root beer and cream soda for the non-alcoholic crowd. The root beer also will be served Saturday, but leave the kids at home; the taproom is 21 and older only

Old dog, new home

In North Idaho, Laughing Dog celebrates its 11th anniversary Saturday at its new Sandpoint-area location.

The brewery recently moved operations to 805 Schweitzer Plaza Drive in Ponderay (off Highway 95 behind Taylor Chevrolet), a mile north of its former space on Fontaine Drive.

The taproom isn’t open yet, but the public can get its first look at the new digs during Saturday’s party from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with food, games and live music.

And as always, there’s an anniversary beer – a light Helles lager, a departure from past heavy hitters like last year’s barrel-aged imperial rye ale, which clocked in at 12 percent alcohol by volume.

“We wanted something everybody could drink,” said owner/brewer Fred Colby. “We went kind of all-out last year for year 10, so we decided to back off for year 11.”

Laughing Dog is starting to catch up with production after beginning to brew at the new space in mid-July. While the brewhouse eventually will be expanded, the immediate improvement is a canning line that was delivered Monday; the brewery previously relied on a mobile canning operation.

“Being able to start canning ourselves on our own schedule will be nice,” Colby said. “Once a tank is done we can process it and get the order out the door.”

No opening date has been set for the taproom, which is under construction. “We don’t want to open it up just so-so; we want it to be right,” Colby said.

It will be slightly smaller than before but have a familiar feel, with the bar and other fixtures being moved over. And in keeping with Laughing Dog tradition, dogs will again be allowed inside. They were prohibited at the previous taproom when food service started in March, but that never really took off and there’s no room for a kitchen in the new location anyway, Colby said.

“We’re just going back to what we used to do, and used to do best,” he said.

Freshly tapped

Perry Street is pouring a Palouse Amber (5 percent alcohol by volume, 26 International Bitterness Units) made with locally produced Palouse Pint malts (English pale and Munich) and finished with Cascade hops.

Young Buck’s first full-batch beer at the downtown brewery incubator is a Cascade-hopped Cascadia IPA (5.5, 38) that’s conditioned over bourbon barrel chunks and French oak chips, with hints of cocoa nibs, vanilla bean and anise.

Mad Bomber has a release party for its new single-hop Centennial IPA on Saturday from noon to 4, while the Steam Plant will tap its annual Oktoberfest lager for First Friday on Sept. 2.

Save the date

Steady Flow Growler House in Spokane Valley celebrates its first anniversary over Labor Day weekend with One Tree hard cider Sept. 2, a parking lot party featuring a special Paradise Creek firkin on Sept. 3 and an Elysian/Lagunitas tap takeover Sept. 4.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort’s 24th annual Fall Fest on Sept. 3-5 will offer more than 80 beers and ciders from the region and beyond along with wine, food and art vendors and eight bands over the weekend. Beer pricing runs from $12 to $35, depending on the size and type of tasting glass, which includes your first three fills.

Send beer news, comments and questions to senior correspondent Rick Bonino at

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