Friday, January 31, 2014

River City (we got trouble right her in....)

  OK, I had to recall that great song from The Music Man to lead into a story on Spokane's River City Brewing, but this new brewery is not making trouble or anything else that rhymes with Pool.  They are making a signature red ale--I guess it has to be signature as the red is even in their website name.  When the name river city has also been used by breweries in Sacramento, Jacksonville, and Witchita, you have to do something to stand out.
   Spokane's River City Red is a nice malty ale, moderately strong (5.6% abv, 16 IBU) that goes down easy. The taproom has been open a few months and a deli next door makes all kinds of sandwiches you can bring in.  The tap list from a few days ago gives an idea of the varieties offered here.
   Some of the names date from the brewers' prior incarnation as the Coeur d'Alene Brewing Co.  The guys who had been brewing over the line in Idaho decided to run a smaller system in a bigger city.
   The back wall displays some of the swag they sell.  They seem to be very bicycle-centered here, like the Pedlar in Seattle.
(Visited 01/17/14)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Iron Goats in Washington: several meanings

   Search the terms Iron Goat & Washington state; the first hit is likely to be the Iron Goat State Park, a trail in Stevens Pass along the old route of the Great Northern.  A massive avalanche there in 1913 took out two snow-stalled trains and 93 people.  A second hit will be either a trash-recycling sculpture in Spokane's Riverfront Park, built for the 1974 Expo, or Iron Goat Brewing, a brewpub east of downtown, founded in 2012 by two homebrewing couples: Greg and Heather Brandt and Paul Edminster and Sheila Evans.
   The 8.5 barrel system comes from Bozeman, where it originated Spanish Peaks' Black Dog Ale line. After Spanish Peaks relocated to California, its hooked-on-Montana staff launched Bozeman Brewing Co. and used this gear until they outgrew it and sold it to these Spokane folks.
   What they make here pays homage to the namesake goat. Me, I tried and liked the Goatmeal Stout (5.6%, 29 IBU, good coffee-and-chocolate malts).  Other choices had names like Head Butt IPA. Garbage Pail Ale, and Impaler IPA (evidently the house favorite).  Pix didn't turn out but it was a nice stop.
(Visited 01/17/14)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Slate Creek Brewing: new in Coeur d'Alene

     A mile or so north of downtown Coeur d"Alene, Slate Creek Brewing has been up and running since last March.  Two brothers, Ryan and Jason Wing, turned a former car wash into a two-barrel system with a friendly pub.  Slate Creek is a popular kayaking and fishing stream, tributary to the St. Joe River, and the beer names tend to reflect the brothers' enthusiasm for the outdoor recreation opportunities so abundant in the panhandle.
   The four core beers are a pale (the juniper-scented Norse Nectar, delicious tang), 6 weight IPA (a fly fishing term), Salmon Run Red, and Double Black IPA (a/k/a cascadian dark ale). Between the rotators and the seasonals on the right side of the board, I found two (2) brown ales, called Wingnut Brown and Backcountry Brown.  The Wingnut (4.5% abv, 22 IBU) had that long-lasting mouthfeel the good browns all have.
    Down in the lower left corner of the board is a price for Nalgene growlers.  Nalgene is the plastic so often used in water bottles for cycling and backpacking; this was the first time I had seen it applied to the beer growler market.
    An elaborate bit of graffiti art decorates the entrance from the parking lot.
The Wings have lift-off, it would appear.
(Vistied 01/17/14)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wallace Brewing: a brewing gem in the Gem State

    Wallace, Idaho: what a legendary spot.  The last traffic light on I-90 for years, bordellos run quite openly through the 1970s, silver mines slowly playing out...and now tourism for the 900 plus people still living there. Some of whom work at, and most of whom, I dare say, drink at Wallace Brewing, or have since it opened in 2009.  The brewery sits right on the main drag.
   The bar inside was a friendly spot; a couple other guys at the bar were also getting their Inland Ale Trail passports stamped (this Spokane-based promotion includes five breweries in the Idaho panhandle along with eleven Washington operations).  The beers coming out of the eight working taps all had names celebrating some aspect of Wallace history, the mining, the working choice was a 1910 Black Lager that recalled the year of the huge forest fire.  Timothy Egan's fine book about this fire, The Big Burn, starts and ends in Wallace.  The black lager was a smooth malty concoction.  A tasting note related that the malt was steeped in cold water for 24 hours prior to going into the 15-bbl brew kettle.
    An unusual feature at Wallace was posting technical notes on the recipes for some of the beers on the glass window looking into the brewing works.
    Some of these notes even include the style guides published by the Brewers Association, setting out the parameters of a classic ale or lager type.
    The decor is all history-themed.  A mannequin of a working girl sits atop the back wall, more or less over the entry to the mens room.  In in all, a most enjoyable stop;
(Visited 01/17/14)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

All hopped up in Spokane Valley

   Passing through Spokane recently, I remembered I had started an Inland NW Ale Trail passport at Republic Brewing last fall, and decided to seek another stamp.  An exit onto Sprague Ave. in the Spokane Valley area led to a brewpub called Hopped Up, in an A-frame along the highway.  The building style just shouted "former restaurant" and yes, it had been an IHOP (International House of Pancakes).  So points for a cute name that recalls some former business activity in the beer-making space.
   Hopped-Up is owned and operated by Steve Ewan, who comes from years of homebrewing, and his wife, and they had more than half a dozen ales on tap in the bright, cozy pub area.
   They offer samplers at a dollar a pop in unusual little sampling mugs.  I had to try their Lemon Cream Ale in one of these guys.
   The deal here is that they make a cream ale with whatever fruit is in season (strawberries in June, huckleberries in September, etc.) and in January you take lemons and make lemon cream ale.
     The Ewans' brewing equipment, like their building, is recycled, in this case the stuff that No-Li used, back when they were Northern Lights Brewing here in Spokane.  No-Li has moved on to a much bigger system to serve the large area they now distribute in, and the old gear has a new home here.
As their webite indicates, Hopped-Up has a distinct preference for variations of the brown ale and cream ale styles, having two of each on when I was there.
(Visited 01/15/14)