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Beer on tap at camp: New tiny trailer on North Monroe is about ‘the community and bringing people together’

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 8, 2021

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

They say good things come in small packages, and that’s certainly true for beer lovers at Camp Taps. Located in the parking lot of 1889 Salvage Co. at 2824 N. Monroe St., Camp Taps is one of the tiniest taverns in Washington and the state’s first beer trailer.

Portland natives Blaise Barshaw and Laurie Ann Greenberg opened the venue in late July. “We’re both artists and had talked about finding a place to open a brick-and-mortar art space with a taproom,” Greenberg said. “Then COVID hit, and we downsized our dream.”

Downsized to 63 feet by 7 feet, to be exact. Beer trailers are common in Portland, so the couple purchased a vintage 1969 Aladdin Hideaway from their friend Gina Campbell, who offered them space in the parking lot of her vintage store.

They gutted the trailer and Barshaw set to work creating the pint-sized place for pints, while Greenberg got busy filling out paperwork for state and city licensing. Beer trailers may be common in Portland, but no such thing existed in Washington.

It took months of back-and-forth before everything was finalized. Meanwhile, Barshaw had transformed the camping trailer, adding a walk-in cooler for kegs and fold-up wooden bar counters, and he repurposed thrift shop finds into tap handles.

He grinned. “I used badminton and croquet handles and a vintage flashlight.” With a 12-person capacity, the cozy space offers ample opportunity for connection and conversation. “We wanted it to feel like you’re having a beer on the front porch or backyard with friends and neighbors,” Greenberg said.

The eight taps are all local, save one red beer from Oregon. “We wanted to highlight Spokane’s great craft beer scene,” Barshaw said. “The beer community here has been so helpful and nice to us.” For nonbeer drinkers, Camp Taps always has lemonade and a hard seltzer on hand.

The couple also want to keep their carbon footprint small and offer the Eco Camper Cup. “It’s an aluminum extended-use container,” Greenberg explained. “Take it home and bring it back clean. We fill it with the first pint of your favorite beverage for just $10.”

Camp Taps merchandise includes T-shirts, stickers and postcards, so you can write home from camp. A small gallery features the work of local artists. Camp Taps has had a steady stream of customers since opening, many drawn in by Barshaw’s handpainted beer signs.

The location in the North Monroe business district, surrounded by antique and vintage shops, has given shop-weary spouses an outdoor place to wait and enjoy a brew while their partners peruse the stores. Greenberg laughed. “One lady said, ‘Thanks for the husband daycare!’”

If you want to visit the tiny tavern, you’d better go soon – their business license is only valid May through October. Opening a new-to-Washington business has been challenging, but Barshaw and Greenberg believe it’s been worth the effort.

“It’s so much fun just watching people have fun here,” Barshaw said. Greenberg nodded. “It’s more than the beer,” she said. “It’s the community and bringing people together.”

Cindy Hval can be reached at dchval@juno.com.

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