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Common Language Brewing Co. now open in downtown Spokane’s Chronicle Building

UPDATED: Wed., April 6, 2022

Charlie Thudium, Common Language Brewing head brewer, pours beers at the new brewery and taproom in the ground-floor space of the Chronicle Building in downtown Spokane.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Charlie Thudium, Common Language Brewing head brewer, pours beers at the new brewery and taproom in the ground-floor space of the Chronicle Building in downtown Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A new brewery has opened in the former Spokane Daily Chronicle newspaper pressroom in downtown Spokane.

Sean Owens – a former veterinarian and retired professor from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine – and five business partners opened Common Language Brewing Co. this week at 926 W. Sprague Ave., Suite 101.

“The Spokane community has been unbelievably welcoming,” Owens said. “We’ve met lots of folks here that love craft beer. It’s very nice to be in the arts and entertainment district, and we are hoping to have a long tenure here in town making great beer for people.”

Common Language Brewing Co. features six taps with its signature hard seltzer, Irish stout, brown ale and India pale ale brewed with locally sourced grains, hops and fruits. It also has six rotating guest taps with beers, ciders and wines.

The brewery also serves wine by the glass and tea, Owens said.

“We want everyone to have something to drink and enjoy, and be able to sit, hang out and make new friends,” he said.

Since opening this week, the brewery’s Irish stout has been a top seller, Owens said.

“Spokane loves stouts,” he said. “That was a wonderful surprise … people like it and asked us to keep it on (draft) as a staple.”

Common Language Brewing Co. has a limited menu with chips and salsa. The brewery is partnering with Slightly Charred Wood Fired Pizza to offer free delivery via QR code that patrons can scan at their tables, Owens said.

The brewery plans to collaborate with other restaurants in the future for delivery service, Owens added.

Common Language Brewing’s co-founders include Jeremy Johnson, chief financial officer; Chris Durrant, chief technology engineer; Alex Lowrie, chief educational officer; Dallas Hobbs, director of marketing and design; and Charlie Thudium, head brewer.

Owens served as a professor, associate hospital director and associate dean of admissions and student programs at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine for more than 15 years prior to retiring and becoming a brewer at 3-Mile Brewing Co. in Davis, California.

Owens, who had been homebrewing for several years, completed the UC Davis master brewers certificate program last year.

Owens and his wife, Dori Borjesson, relocated to Pullman after she was hired as dean of Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2020.

Owens said he hopes Common Language Brewing Co. becomes a welcoming and inclusive place that supports career advancement of women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community in the craft beer industry.

“With a name like Common Language, we strive to be inclusive for everybody and we want to give back and support diverse segments within the community,” he said.

Common Language Brewing Co. is planning to donate 20% to 25% of its annual profits to local organizations, Owens said.

In addition to their roles at Common Language Brewing Co., Johnson is senior director and general manager of pathology at IDEXX Laboratories in Sacramento, California; Durrant is a water engineer based in Denver; and Hobbs is a former WSU defensive lineman who works as a digital media specialist for the university’s athletics department.

Lowrie is chair of data, technology and engineering at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education, according to the university’s website.

Thudium, a UC Davis graduate, was part of a team that won the university’s 2020 Iron Brew competition for Caledonian Nights, a Scottish export style ale.

Owens spent several months renovating the 3,500-square-foot Riverside Avenue space into a brewery. The space was formerly occupied by River Rock Taphouse, which shuttered during the pandemic.

The building is owned by Cowles Real Estate Co. a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.

Common Language is hosting a grand opening event beginning at 3 p.m. Friday that will feature giveaways, a photo booth and live music by Matt Mitchell.

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