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Northwest Passages Book Club talks brews, business with No-Li Brewhouse

UPDATED: Thu., Dec. 17, 2020

Spokane was just named one of the top 50 cities for beer drinkers in the country, but it seems only a matter of time before it cracks the top 10, said No-Li Brewhouse owner John Bryant.

“It’s probably 100 years in the making, but we’ve had a good last decade for sure,” Bryant said during a virtual Northwest Passages Book Club event on Tuesday night. “We’re seeing Spokane become the Napa Valley of beer – it’s a craft brewing epicenter.”

No-Li recently took several awards at two international beer competitions, including gold medals for their Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout and Born & Raised IPA, among others.

With the help of other local breweries like Perry Street Brewing, which also recently won a major beer award, Bryant hopes to create a “staycation” destination where people will flock from all around the Pacific Northwest.

Following a brief toast, Bryant and The Spokesman-Review Features Editor Don Chareunsy dove right into No-Li’s history in Spokane.

“It’s probably a 100-year story,” Bryant said, looking back on breweries including Golden Hills, Northern Lights, Iron Goat and others – that have paved the way in Spokane since the Prohibition era. “There have been a lot of people who have laid the framework for No-Li to have the ability to represent Spokane.

Bryant went on to explain how continuing COVID-19-related health guidelines and restrictions have been affecting these businesses.

“I think the love of the city is what keeps us going,” he said.

Some local breweries remain able to offer outdoor seating – No-Li’s Spokane and Airway Heights breweries are still open in some capacity. But difficulties remain because for “our brethren in the pubs,” restrictions are more stringent. In other words, bars are closed and can’t buy products.

Bryant hopes to see more outdoor seating for pubs so that these businesses can safely bring the community together while keeping as many people employed as possible.

“I think what we’re missing right now is that emotional connection in all our cities, in all our neighborhoods,” Bryant said. “Six feet apart, houses apart, we’ve got to find some way to come together safely and rejoice and come together in the ways that really make us special here.”

Another highlight of the conversation was Bryant and his wife, co-owner Cindy Bryant, learning Tuesday that 100% of the $80,000 No-Li raised for wildfire relief efforts will be distributed to the families of Malden and Pine City before the end of the year.

To close out the discussion, Chareunsy asked what Bryant was most looking forward to as the state approaches reopening.

“I’m looking forward to the city becoming what it’s going to be, which is the No. 1 draw in the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “Bend, Walla Walla, Seattle ain’t got nothing on us. The love and the grit of Spokane are going to shine when it comes out of this.”

For more information, visit spokesman.com/northwest-passages/events.

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