I always plan to visit local breweries whenever I travel. This last weekend I journeyed to Spokane, Washington, to visit with family and made a point to seek out spots I hadn’t tried before. Just like in Portland, many new breweries have developed in the Inland Northwest over the years. It was a pleasure to explore and support the local craft beer scene there. Enjoy reading about three of the places I checked out, and make a point to visit them if you’re in the area!
River City Brewing
Location: The brewpub is a quick walk from the heart of downtown, on a mixed use street a few blocks from the river and several other breweries. The cycling themed brewpub has a sunny outdoor patio and plenty of seating inside. Each round table is rimmed with a bike tire, some with smooth commuter tires and others with chunky mountain bike tread.
Branding: River City’s brand drives home their location with a pleasant representation of downtown Spokane. Iconic buildings are complimented with a strong slab-serif font. The brand doesn’t speak to the cycling theme of the brewpub, but every designed element they had was done well and with purpose. The shield shape has become a visual cue to locals, as signs for their River City Red can be seen at just about every bar in town.
Beer: The brews at River City covered a range of styles and strengths. I was impressed with the consistent quality of each offering. Even if a particular style wasn’t my personal preference, I found something pleasant or exciting about it.
🍺 VB Stout
5.5% ABV 55 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.25)
Like most stouts, the VB Stout is a dark, rich beer with plenty of coffee and chocolate tones. In addition to most stouts, however, we add the distinct taste of organic vanilla and the essence of bourbon to make a complex beer with a symphony of flavor and a wide range of notes.
My Notes: Rich without being too heavy, wonderful vanilla finish.
🍺 Huckleberry Ale
5% ABV 6 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
Using the uniquely Northwest flavor of huckleberries, we match it with a blonde ale backdrop to make a flavorful and refreshing treat for your pint glass.
My Notes: The aroma! Mmmmm
🍺 Kung Fu Death Monkey
8.9% ABV 78 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
Resinous, fruity, and with enough kick to put you on your ass, Kung Fu Death Monkey is required to come with a government warning label (its true!) Treat it with respect and you’ll be fine.
My Notes: Really well done double IPA. Full bodied and a bit of sweet malt.
Whistle Punk Brewing
Location: Open for only a couple months, Whistle Punk’s downtown Spokane taproom is a beautiful hole in the wall, or should I say cave? When the owners renovated the space, they discovered brick arches, rock walls, and rough wooden beams underneath the sheetrock. They’re unique elements that definitely wow. A copper-topped bar and several tables complete the space.
Branding: A “whistle punk” was a lumberjack who operated a signal wire that was connected to a donkey engine whistle. There are two versions of their brand in use, one that exemplifies this concept and a more simplified version with just a tree (seen below). I like the bold simplicity, as well as applications seen around the taproom.
Beer: I always appreciate a twist on a common beer style, and Whistle Punk delivered handsomely. They had interesting ingredients that looked good on the menu but also tasted great in the glass.
🍺 We Are GRUIT
4.8% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.5)
Collaboration Gruit with Bellweather, Young Buck, Republic, and Whistle Punk. Brewed with mugwort, wormwood, spruce tips and chili flakes.
My Notes: So amazing. Complex yet balanced.
🍺 Mandarina Ekuanot Pale Ale
5.5% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
Pale Ale brewed with oats and hopped with Mandarina Bavaria and Azacca. Notes of orange, tangerine and berries.
My Notes: Berry/orange flavor, funky nose but nice berry finish.
🍺 Huell Melon Saison
6.4% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
Saison brewed with wheat and dry hopped with Huell Melon hops. Spicy, fruity, and dry.
My Notes: Fruity but not over the top.
Iron Goat Brewing
Location: Iron Goat Brewing is occupied within a historic auto shop in downtown Spokane. This is a new space for the brewery as of Spring 2016, and it’s fantastic. I love the incredibly high ceilings, big bay doors and flood of light. Large rolling doors reveal the brewing operation behind the bar.
Branding: While the original brand has some flaws (mainly the use and placement of the font Impact), it’s been adapted over the years to be more simplistic and abstract. It’s use on the metal taster trays is particularly nice.
Beer: More experimental styles existed here than the other breweries I visited in Spokane. Beyond their regular beers there were many collaborations with other local brewers or distillers. The sour beers were a welcome sight and didn’t disappoint.
🍺 Blackberry Apricot Sour Ale
6.2% ABV 17 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4.25)
An American Style Sour with Blackberry and Apricot. It finishes crisp and clean with a subtle fruit finish.
My Notes: Not too sour, good fruit combo. More please!
🍺 Brick and Steel
6.7% ABV 67 IBU 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
Bright and aromatic, this Northwest-style IPA is packed full of citrusy Mosaic hops.
My Notes: Good piney mosaic flavor.
🍺 Hazy Days of Summer
7.9% ABV 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4)
New England-style Imperial IPA.
My Notes: Not as juicy as some hazy IPAs. 7.9% and not too powerful.
(Beer Descriptions in italics are provided from the breweries.)