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On Tap: Mountain Lakes Brewing opening Thursday in downtown Spokane

You’ll know when you’ve arrived at downtown Spokane’s newest brewery, Mountain Lakes.

A canoe paddle is the front door handle for the taproom at the southwest corner of Riverside and Browne, which opens Thursday.

Inside, the tap handles are paddle tops, with the blades used for taster trays. A canoe hangs from the ceiling, and a photo triptych of – you guessed it – a mountain lake adorns the wall next to the main bar.

Co-owner/brewers Dave Basaraba and Tim Hilton, outdoor types themselves, got the concept from a 1920s-era promotional postcard that reads, “50 mountain lakes welcome you to Spokane.”

They hope to create a destination of their own for thirsty visitors. “We want this to be an inviting place to hang out,” Hilton said. “We really like the idea of a spot where people can come after work and have a beer and take a growler home.”

Both he and Basaraba grew up in craft beer hotbeds, Boston and Portland, Oregon, respectively. After each ended up in Spokane, they met and began exploring their shared passion. Homebrewing grew from the garage into a business plan that led them to their new home, a brick-walled, tin-ceilinged spot next to the Lion’s Lair bar.

There’s room for 49 people in the narrow, rectangular space, with a patio planned out front on Riverside. Along with the smaller main bar and a few tables up front, most of the seating is at an L-shaped back bar that wraps around the brewing equipment along the east wall.

Hilton and Basaraba are running three one-barrel systems in tandem, allowing them to produce 30, 60 or 90 gallons of a given beer. “The ability to do smaller batches allows us the opportunity to play with a lot of things,” said Hilton.

Six house beers occupy the 14 taps for starters. There’s a crisp American-style Wheat Wheat, Don’t Tell Me (5.8 percent alcohol by volume, 24 International Bitterness Units) with a noticeable Citra/Cascade hop character, and a Woodwork Pale (6.3, 35) with a touch of sweetness from honey malt and floral, spicy hop notes from Columbus and East Kent Goldings.

The Big Red Wagon amber (6.4, 50) is joined by a bigger 2-Alarm Double Red (7.8, 70). Rounding things out are the Riverside Browne brown (6.2, 40) and a more malt-forward, English-style Live at Leeds IPA (7.2, 70). All are served as pints, half-pints and taster trays.

Set to join those next week are a lighter, single-hop (Northern Brewer) blonde and a coffee version using cold brew from nearby Spaceman Coffee. And the requisite hoppy IPA is in the works.

While there will be more experimental offerings at times, Hilton said, “What we’re trying to do for the opening is create clean styles and do something accessible. We don’t want to make things that are overly macho or showy.”

Along with the current taplist, a chalkboard at the entrance will show what’s brewing for future release and what’s conditioning in the fermenters and brite tanks.

“If people come in and we’re brewing, they’ll know when that beer is coming,” said Hilton. “There’s no mystery about what we’re doing.”

Match made in heaven

White Bluffs’ Nectar of the Gods is the winner of this year’s IPA March Madness at Manito Tap House and will receive a permanent handle for the coming year. It topped Reubens’ Crikey, Silver City Tropic Haze and Mack & Jack’s Resolution in Final Four customer voting last week.

Freshly tapped

The summer seasonal Passionfruit Gose tart wheat beer has returned at Twelve String.

Waddell’s Brewpub is pouring an Ales for ALS Hazy IPA brewed with a special hop blend to benefit research into the disease.

No-Li has released a whiskey barrel-aged Born & Raised Again IPA in 22-ounce bottles, available only at the pub.

Recent Liberty Lake startup the Hidden Mother has begun distributing its beers to locations including Bottles, the Lantern Tap House, Manito Tap House, Pints and Steady Flow Growler House.

Save the date

Bellwether’s Year of the Sainted Brewers series continues Thursday starting at 3 with a single-malt Scotch ale honoring St. Urban of Langres, brewed with locally grown and malted Scots Bere barley along with wild pine pitch, spruce boughs and birch twigs and aged in a Dry Fly whiskey barrel.

Post Falls Brewing celebrates its second anniversary April 20-21 with special beer releases, food trucks and live music.

A Wine Versus Beer Dinner Battle on April 20 at Nectar Catering and Events will include five courses paired with both beers and wines, with diners voting on their favorites. Tickets are $79.99, through

Local beers, ciders and food will be featured in this year’s Micros For Mamas on April 21 at Dealers Auto Auction in Airway Heights, to benefit the Spokane YoungLives program for teen mothers. Tickets are $45, through

The Inland Northwest Chapter of Beer Choir meets April 23 at 6:30 at Bellwether.

On Tap runs the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. For more local beer news go to