Day Out: The Shop on South Perry

DSCN2246As of late, Spokane’s South Perry neighborhood has become my favorite miniature getaway/hiding spot.  It’s just far enough away from the Valley to feel like a minor excursion, but close enough that I can scurry downtown or back to the Valley in a timely manner if need be.  The neighborhood’s got just about everything you could possibly need or want, too: a pizza parlor, a natural foods store, a fitness clothing boutique, a great place for fine dining, and a quaint little cafe for meet-ups throughout the day.  The latter, simply named “The Shop”, is really a catch-all for the neighborhood: it’s got coffee, ice cream, pastries, lunch fare, vegan and gluten-free options, beer on-tap, and outdoor movies in the summertime.  Sounds pretty good, right?  I thought so, so I scootered on up there and checked it out.

I first happened upon The Shop by accident during a dinner outing this winter.  A friend and I pulled up to Casper Fry one evening, eager to check it out after hearing so many great things about the eatery, only to find that we had arrived on the one day of the week it was closed (Tuesdays, for future reference).  Feeling slightly let down that we’d driven all the way up there just to be shut out, we resolved to head across the street to drown our sorrows in a pistachio-topped pie at South Perry Pizza (it was terrific).  On our way out, we noticed a wee cafe hidden behind the parking lot next to Casper Fry.  Lo and behold, we’d found The Shop.

"Voluptuous" is how I'd best describe the blueberries on this scone.

“Voluptuous” is how I’d best describe the blueberries on this scone.

The Shop opens bright and early at 6am on weekdays, and after an hour or so, the house-made pastries and tarts start to appear.  To go with your fresh-out-of-the-oven scone or quiche slice, The Shop offers locally roasted Anvil Coffee.  If you’re after something a bit chillier to counter the heat of these sweltering July days, ice cream from Spokane’s very own Brain Freeze Creamery is also ready and waiting for your order.  The cafe also hosts six taps, a couple of which serve area brews from breweries such as No-Li, Iron Goat, and Paradise Creek.  By the way, The Shop has a killer Thirsty Thursday deal: $2 pints all day!  The Shop is ready and waiting to offer air conditioning and a cold one for those seeking shelter from the heat and excitement of the farmer’s market that takes place in front of the cafe every Thursday afternoon.

Adjacent to The Shop is Casper Fry, and the two eateries are separated by the latter’s north-facing brick wall.  Not wanting a blank canvas to go to waste, the wall is painted to look like the screen of a movie theater, which, on summery Saturday nights, it is.  Throughout the summer, The Shop hosts outdoor movies at dusk each Saturday night, each benefiting a different local charity, and this year’s lineup has something for everyone: The Princess Bride is this Satuday’s feature, and upcoming shows include Jurassic Park, Wreck It Ralph, and, to my delight, The Avengers (remember how awesome IronFest 2013 was?  I do).  Grab your favorite lawn chair and a bag of popcorn and enjoy a free (FREE!) showing in one of the most charming neighborhoods in town.

It can really be a challenge for a business to try to be everything to everyone, but The Shop does an impressive job at it.  Offering a place for locals to grab breakfast, lunch, an ice cream cone, or a cold brew, this hidden gem hits all the right notes.  As my last trip there resulted in an unexpected sighting of some rabbits sitting at the table next to me (I couldn’t make this up), I’m curious to see what surprises my next trip to The Shop will have in store (fingers crossed that it involves another peculiar farm animal!).

Night Out: Saranac Public House

image from Saranac Public House

Have you ever accidentally put a red shirt in a load of white laundry?  Even if you haven’t, you know what happens: the color bleeds off of the red shirt and rubs off on everything else in the load.  A similar phenomenon happens with friends: even if you’re dissimilar in so many ways, after spending time together, she’ll start to rub off on you.  I’ve noticed this happening a bit as of late: one of my good friends, the one with whom I visited the MAC and the Flying Goat earlier this spring, recently graduated from Washington State University’s interior design program.  By virtue of her field, she’s very cognizant of wherever she is, noticing the way a room is constructed, how its contents are arranged, and how lighting completely affects the feel of a space.  In our travels together, she has brought these aspects to my attention, and now, almost automatically, I find my focus shifting to them whenever I go someplace new.  This was the case last week when I made my first visit to Saranac Public House in downtown Spokane.

Saranac Public House resides in the Saranac Building, next door to the Magic Lantern Theatre and across the street from Zola and Boots Bakery.  The Saranac Building itself, recently renovated to become LEED Platinum-certified, played host to the single-room occupancy Saranac Hotel for nearly 100 years.  The exposed brick walls and abundance of natural lighting present in the modern pub are indicative of the building’s long history, though the modern artwork spread throughout the restaurant the the constant rotation of new taps suggest more concurrent affinities.  The vibe is open and relaxed, an ideal setting for a happy hour meeting after a long day or a relaxed lunchtime get-together with friends.  This particular outing was one of the former variety.

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Saranac boasts a fine line-up of a dozen taps, most from northwest breweries, including a house beer brewed by Spokane’s own No-Li Brewhouse.  The day seemed like an IPA kind of day to me, so I opted for a pint of Lovely Reida from Seattle’s Georgetown Brewing Company, while my friend went with something a bit fruitier: Superfuzz Blood Orange Pale Ale from another Seattle brewery, Elysian. Other breweries of the day included Mac & Jack’s (whose African Amber is a staple around these parts), Ninkasi, and Lost Coast.  Featured on the pub’s rotating nitro tap was Pyramid Weiss Cream, an offering I found to be an nice alternative to the standard nitro option of a stout.

DSCN2130As we caught up over beers, my friend and I worked up an appetite.  To remedy this, we took to Saranac’s selection of happy hour appetizers, which includes one heck of a pretzel (who doesn’t love a pretzel with her beer?), a hummus plate, and some good ol’ chips and salsa.  We opted for the polenta.  Pan-seared and baked, the polenta was light and fluffy, just enough to curb your appetite before dinner, but not so much as to entirely eliminate your hunger.  Topped with a generous scoop of tomatoes, mushrooms, and caramelized onions, the warm polenta is cooled by a healthy addition of fresh basil.  In addition to being a most savory appetizer, the polenta is also one of Saranac’s many vegan and/or gluten-free offerings.  While I know many vegans and vegetarians will appreciate this, carnivores (myself included) need not worry: the restaurant also offers more traditional pub fare, such as burgers, sausages, and tacos.  See?  Something for everyone!

DSCN2132We were enjoying the polenta so much that we’d nearly forgotten that we ordered dinner, too, and hurriedly shuffled to make room when our meals arrived.  Fixin’ for somethin’ hearty, I had the pork verde stew: seared pork shoulder smothered in spices and seasonings, including tomatillos, cumin, and pasillo, all served over brown rice and season pinto beans.  All of that heat was blessedly countered by a topping of cilantro and sour cream.  Also feeling the need for beans, my friend went with a cup of the vegetarian (or vegan, if you wish) black bean chili, a thick, kickin’ blend of onions, peppers, and jalapenos with locally-grown black beans.  Yep, in addition to being and IPA kind of day, it was a spicy beans kind of day.  By the time I finished off my bowl of stew and sipped the last of my beer, I was full and on my way to being stuffed, though, thankfully, not quite there.  Had I wanted to (which I did, but had the restraint not to act on the impulse), I could have lingered a while to try one of the flatbreads, a small house salad, or a bite of dessert, but I elected to save such an adventure for another day.

As it’s a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of the center of downtown, Saranac is a place to get away from it all without being too far away.  The space’s century of history is apparent all around, though its presence complements the modern accoutrements of the pub rather than detracting from them.  With the debut of summer upon us, I look forward to a few afternoons at Saranac enjoying the sun, a brew, and good company, be it in the form of a friend or a building with stories to tell.

Night Out: Women in Brewing at The Pike Brewery

Image from Seattle Beer Week

Oh, man, is it Tuesday already?  Back to work and weeknights after two days of fun and frivolity (and Monday)?  Yes, indeed.  I can’t believe that just over one week ago, at this time, I was on the other side of the state and on my way to what would be a fantastic evening celebrating not only terrific Washington beers, but the wonderful women who worked so hard to brew them.

Last Monday, I attended the 2nd Annual Women In Brewing event as part of Seattle Beer Week, an event presented by the Pike Brewing Company and Thirsty Sisters to benefit the Planned Parenthood and the Pink Boots Society, an organization comprised solely of women working in the brewing industry..  The event featured numerous beers brewed by women brewers across the state, as well as a variety of snacks from local vendors.  The venue, the Pike Brewery’s Museum Room located in the aft of the restaurant area, provided an outstanding milieu for the night’s festivities, as well as an ever-present reminder why we were all there: because we loved great beer!

As I entered the event, I was delightedly overwhelmed at just how many people were there: tons of breweries from around the state, a slew of vendors from the area serving everything from cupcakes to oysters to pulled pork sliders, and, of course, a bustling crowd of dedicated beer lovers.  There was so much to see and to try; where was a girl to begin?

DSCN2062Upon entering, one of the first breweries I came across was Island Hoppin’ Brewery based on Orcas Island.  I have visited the San Juan Islands numerous times with my family over the years (Thanksgiving on the islands was a family tradition for years), and the islands’ three resident killer whale pods (J, K, and L pods) are my absolute favorite aspect of the area.  That said, nostalgia got the better of me, and I couldn’t refuse a sample of the brewery’s K-Pod Kolsch.  Light, golden, and slightly sweet, the light ale was an excellent introduction to the evening’s brews.

Making the rounds through the packed Museum Room, I got a peek at some of the vendors offering snacks at the event: Taylor Shellfish had two varieties of oysters available for everyone’s oyster-shooting pleasures, cleverly named d:floured had a couple of gluten-free treats out for sampling, and Seattle’s own Brave Horse Tavern had miniature breakfast sandwiches out for the masses’ enjoyment.  As if beer weren’t enough, there were also liquor samples available for sampling: BroVo Spirits featured a few of their herbally-inclined liqueurs including lavender, Douglas fir, and ginger.  In all, it was a feast for the eyes and the palate.

After a swift tour through the entirety of the event, I got back to beers.  As one would hope, some of Seattle’s more well-known breweries were in attendance.  A city staple, Fremont Brewing Company brought a couple of their own brews, including a bright summer ale with basil and grapefruit.  Keeping with the theme of fruit-accented beers, Naked City Brewery brought two versions of the Belles of St. Clements, actually, three versions, if you count their impeccably dressed representatives manning the taps (see photo at top of post).  The standard St. Clements is a summer saison, easy-drinking and perfect for hot summer days.  The exclusive version featured at this event was brewed with apricots, lending the brew an extra dose of very slightly earthy sweetness that left me looking forward to warmer days.  Not to be left out of the fun, Elysian was there, too, serving up both regular and Randall-ized versions of the newest release in the trip series, its collaboration with New Belgium.  The buckwheat ale alone sounded enticing, but as I’d first been introduced to Randalls earlier that day, I was eager to try the infused version of the beer.  The Randall-ized version of the buckwheat ale featured whole hops and roasted peanuts.  The medium-brown ale gained an addition of unusual roastiness from the peanuts, as well as a bit of extra bite from the hops.  The combination of flavors was deliberately intriguing and left me with inspiration for my next homebrewing endeavor.

What would a “Women in Beer” even party be without a few female brewery owners?  Fortunately, there was no shortage that evening.  Pike Brewery co-owner Rose Ann Finkel made the rounds throughout the evening, chatting with vendors and visitors, while her husband and fellow Pike co-owner, Charlie Finkel, did the same.  Haley Woods, owner of one of Seattle’s newest breweries, Peddler Brewing Company, was on-hand serving up a couple of Peddler’s brews.  Opened only two months ago, Spinnaker Bay Brewing Company, owned by Elissa Pryor and proudly holding the title of Washington’s only woman owned and operated brewery, was also present and serving up their porter.

It was truly inspiring to see so many women not only doing what they loved, but making beers that other people (many of whom were also women) loved.  I think that it is amazing that so many women, not only in Washington, but around the US and abroad, are making such waves in the modern craft brewing industry.  Looking a ways back at history, brewing used to be a task designated to women.  However, with the rise of industrial brewing, women’s roles largely fell by the wayside.  Today, brewing is, once again, becoming an arena in which women are highly active participants and are proving themselves to be undoubtedly every bit as skilled as their male counterparts.  Whether brewed by women or men, I look forward to continuing to enjoy the ever-creative and constantly growing onslaught of great beers from my home state of Washington, as well as everywhere else I may travel or find myself.  Yep, I’ll drink to that.

Additional Women in Beer Links:

3 Female Craft Brewers to Watch

Meg Gill’s Heady Run at Golden Road Brewing– Meg Gill is the owner of Golden Road Brewing Company and the world’s youngest female brewery owner

The Naked Pint and The Naked Brewer by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune

Women of Craft Beer: A Quick List

Pink Boots Society

Night Out: IronFest Finale and Twigs

Would anyone care for an Iron Man-hattan?

Would anyone care for an Iron Man-hattan?

It’s finally here.  The end of an era.  After months of anticipation and weeks’ worth of preparation, the grand finale of IronFest 2013 has come and gone.  And what a finale it was!  Complete with with cocktails, themed outfits, and a big-screen premiere, it was definitely an event worth looking forward to.

Last Thursday, Amy, Amy’s husband, two of our married friends, and I sported our crimson and gold and headed out to Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar before heading out to the town’s first showing of Iron Man 3.   Twigs is one of the premiere martini bars in Spokane, and there are multiple locations throughout town.  This evening, we visited the Valley location, which features a spacious dining room and an impressive wall of colorful and well-organized liquors.  When possible, I recommend sitting in the lounge, where you are able to enjoy a warm fireplace, multiple televisions (if you follow sports), and the aforementioned booze array.

After sitting down, my friends and I ordered our drinks and quickly caught up on the news of the week: someone finished with school for the semester, someone else had plans to go out of town in the coming weeks, yet another had a new development at work to share.  Once we were all up to speed on the week’s happenings, we were free to jump into the topic of conversation we were all eager to get started on: what do you think the movie’s going to be like?!  It did make me laugh that despite the facts that we are all working adults with bills and responsibilities, we still get excited about seeing new movies and are willing to stay out late so that we can be the first to see them.

As fun as it is to go to midnight movie screenings, I do have one problem with them: they’re so late!  I realize that this makes me sound like an old woman, but the truth of the matter is, I’m just not a night owl.  I’d much rather get up early than stay up late.  That said, I was secretly thrilled that the “midnight showing” of Iron Man 3 was actually a 9:30pm showing.  Score!  With plenty of time to spare, we claimed our spots in the theater and speculated on the film to come.  Amy’s husband and I, both avid Iron Man fans, shared our thoughts and looked forward to finding out whether our plot hypotheses would prove correct.  As it turns out, most of them would not.

In my opinion, the movie was a blast, and I was glad that my friends and I made the effort to get together and go see it.  There were twists and turns, laughs and suspense, and a plot twist that none of us saw coming (I gasped when it was revealed).  More than anything, I was glad that we all had something to look forward to and enjoy together.  As we all get older, it becomes more and more difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules.  There’s work, school, family obligations, and myriad other responsibilities that take up time and prevent us from getting together as often as we’d really like to.  It takes effort on everyone’s part to meet up and set aside time to enjoy each others’ company.  On this particular outing, many of us have now known each other for the better part of a decade.  We’ve been able to watch each other grow into the people that we now are and witness the various trials and tribulations that we each experienced along the way.  At times, we’ve grown apart for one reason or another, but it’s comforting that we’ve been able to find our ways back to each other and continue what have become fulfilling and cherished friendships.  Whether it’s to celebrate a wedding, someone’s birthday, or a movie we all want to see, I, personally, am glad that I have people with whom I am able to not only enjoy myself, but be myself, no matter how goofy, nerdy, or otherwise embarassingly unconventional I may be.

Night Out: 12 String and Biplane Breweries

Tap Line-Up at 12 String Brewing Co.

Tap Line-Up at 12 String Brewing Co.

A single, lengthy day trip is all that stands between me and achieving my goal of visiting all of the breweries in the greater Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area.  Within the past several years, a whole slew of exemplary breweries have popped up all around our fair metropolis.  It’s terrific!  Besides being able to sample the area’s breweries’ beers at their respective tasting rooms, many local bars and restaurants regularly feature these local brews on tap.  It was once a laborious task to scope out any beers made within the confines of the city limits, and what was once a hefty challenge has been replaced with the pleasantly arduous task of selecting one of the myriad regional suds available.  I am far from alone in being delighted by these circumstances.

Last Friday, a friend of mine, himself a fellow homebrewer, inquired whether I was interested in venturing out to any of the local breweries that evening.  As if he really needed to ask? Being well-travelled across the area’s brewing scene, I was more than happy to introduce him to a brewery I was already familiar with and whose brews I’d not only previously enjoyed, but was eager to enjoy again.  Our first stop was the nearby 12 String Brewing Company in Spokane Valley.

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Dry Fly Whiskey Barrel Aged C#7#5 IPA

If you didn’t already know where 12 String is, you’d be likely to miss it.  Nestled in a small industrial park just off of I-90, one would never guess that a bustling brewery occupies one of the spaces in an otherwise docile neighborhood.  Upon entering 12 String, one can’t help but take a moment to take in the scene: softly lit, the sleek wooden tables look warm and up to the task of hosting an evening of enjoying bubbly brews and colloquial conversation.  A small stage occupies the front corner of the room, where, several nights a week, it’s occupied by musicians who happily strum and sing along between sips of their favorite 12 String creations.  Behind the bar, a formidable line-up of twelve taps, eleven of which are occupied by the brewery’s original creations, stands at attention, ready to serve the next eager patron.  I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at the simultaneously opposing and complementary arrangement of elements in the room: a shelf of long-empty growlers, many from breweries located throughout the West, was situated directly across the room from taps that rarely stop flowing.  The scene was a feast for the eyes and whetted our appetites for a one of 12 String’s numerous concoctions.

When we arrived early Friday evening, the tasting room was already packed.  Unbeknownst to my friend and I, that Friday happened to be the release of 12 String’s new seasonal beer, Dry Fly Whiskey Barrel Aged C#7#5 IPA (6.6% ABV, 110 IBUs).  In celebration of the release, Veraci Pizza, a locally-owned mobile pizzeria, (literally) fired up their ovens and set up camp right outside of the brewery’s front door.  Retrospectively, it seems that it was only appropriate: there are few pairings more right in the world than piping hot pizza and fresh beer.  Having chatted about whiskey (specifically, bourbon) the majority of the drive to the brewery, it seemed only right that we both that we each enjoy a pint of the new whiskey-saturated brew.  Spotting a couple of seats at the bar, we moved in, sat down, and ordered one each.  When our beers arrived, elegantly peeking their sturdy white heads over the edges of the tulip glasses, neither of us wasted any time sniffing, sipping, and serving our initial analyses to each other.  Considering the generous additions of two particularly earthy and high-alpha hops, Summit and Columbus, we weren’t surprised when this ale revealed a bitingly bitter finish that held on with all its might.  The addition of Cascade hops to the mix provided a refreshingly sweet quality that soothed some of the unrelenting bitterness of its companion hops and an irresistible grapefruit aroma, a tell-tale sign of many an American IPA.  Both my friend and I adore a good barrel-aged beer and the oaky vanilla flavor that whiskey and bourbon barrels contribute to the brews they house; the present example did not disappoint.  Subtle, but conspicuous enough, we were able to taste the warm influence of the whiskey barrel on the IPA.  This rendition of one of 12 String’s most popular ales showed itself to be a solid example of what many beer-lovers have come to love about the growing trend of barrel-aged beers: the warming influence of the beloved liquor that once occupied the barrel, and the stories of the barrels themselves.  We took our sweet time with our pints, sipping away over chit chat and the clamor of the high-spirited milieu.  After a bit, we were treated to a concert of crowd-pleasing favorites played by two local musicians on guitars, a combined twelve strings.  Perfectly fitting.

After 12 String, it was time to make our way east.  Just a few miles to the east, barely over the border into Idaho, is Post Falls, the city lying smack-dab between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.  It was in this town that my friend and I were both treated to a novelty: Biplane Brewing Company.  Personally, I wasn’t sure whether to be aghast or elated that the brewery ended up being right next door to Starbucks.  The identification of Biplane’s location contributed to my hypothesis that Spokane and the surrounding area is home to breweries with some really rather unusual locations.  However, that is neither here nor there.

At the Bar at Biplane Brewing Co.

At the Bar at Biplane Brewing Co.

As one would hope, the interior of Biplane Brewing Company is adorned with all-manner of aviation-themed decor: a large model biplane hanging over the bar, airplane artwork on the walls and windows, even a biplane printed on the floor.  We seated ourselves at the bar top and were quickly greeted by Nadine, who faithfully tends the tasting room six days a week. She was welcoming and happy to answer our questions about the brewery, informing us that when they say “small batch”, they mean “small batch”: Biplane brews only 10-gallon batches, each one at a time.  When I asked how long she’d been there, I received two answers: the physical brewery had been there for two years, but Nadine, herself, had been there since about ten o’clock that morning.  The tasting room promptly opens its doors at eleven o’clock each morning, though Nadine and brewmaster Doug, arrive early to start the day’s brewing.  The tasting room is open until 7 or 8 most nights, and until 9 on Fridays and Saturdays, resulting in some exceedingly lengthy days for Nadine.  As it was already 8:30 when my friend and I arrived, I greatly appreciated her graciousness and willingness to answer our questions, despite her having been at work for the better part of eleven hours already.  We took tremendous pleasure in drinking in each of Biplane’s offerings and enjoyed Nadine’s company just as much.

(from left to right) Chocolate Stout, Biplane Pusher Pale Ale, Bristol Bulldoge Brown Ale, and Cranberry Cream Ale

(from left to right) Chocolate Stout, Biplane Pusher Pale Ale, Bristol Bulldoge Brown Ale, and Cranberry Cream Ale

My friend and I both opted for taster paddles, so that, between the two of us, we would be able to sample each of the six beers on tap.  I selected Bristol Bulldog Brown Ale and Biplane Pusher Pale Ale, as well as two seasonals, a chocolate stout and a cranberry cream ale.  Not wanting to miss out on anything, my friend selected Sopwith Camel IPA and Rumbler Red Scottish Ale, as well as the brown ale and the stout.  I started off with the cranberry cream ale.  I didn’t abhor cream ales, but it would be an exaggeration of the truth to say that I was a connoisseur of the style.  I’d sampled Hale’s Cream Ale before, though I wasn’t enamored with it.  My liking of cream ales took a turn for the better last summer when I tried Laughing Dog’s Huckleberry Cream Ale; I found its boisterous huckleberry flavor most enjoyable and a welcome distraction from the somewhat disappointingly light malty flavor.  Biplane’s cranberry cream ale proved a magnificent aberration from my previous experiences with the style.  The initial sip demonstrated a stronger malty flavor than anticipated, and, just when I had prepared to give up hope that the cranberries would make any sort of notable appearance, there they were: a light tartness began to arrive in this beer’s second act, and by the third, those superbly piquant berries were strutting their stuff all over my taste buds.  The cranberry cream ale proved a tough act to follow and would ultimately turn out to be my favorite beer of the evening.  Moving on to the pale ale, I found it to be comfortingly familiar; with a healthy dose of Yakima Valley hops and a warm amber color, this could potentially pass for a strong session beer amongst northwest hopheads.  The next step up, in terms of color and bitterness, was the IPA.  It was a charming ale, though it didn’t provide either of us with the thrill that our initial sample, the cranberry cream ale, had.  Progressing through the line-up, the Scottish red ale was next.  Nadine wasn’t at all surprised when this one made both my friend and I raise our eyebrows and declare, “Whoa.”  A brilliant red color, one can’t help but react as we did when one experiences the startling jolt of roastiness that this beer reveals.  Utilizing a recipe from the eighteenth century, this brew delivered a flavorful wallop that was reminiscent of its beloved and well-known cousin, Scotch whiskey.  For me, Biplane’s remarkable red ale proved a close second to the cranberry cream ale, though my friend loved it enough that he went home with a growler full of it.  Down to the last two brews in the evening’s roster, we prepared to tackle the brewery’s two darkest offerings: the brown ale and the chocolate stout.  First, the brown ale: a soothing deep chestnutty color, with hints of roasted nutty spice and a whisper of chocolate, this easy-drinking brew reminded me of the cold winter months we only recently left behind.  Though I thought that the brown was a solid brew, I wasn’t looking forward to reliving memories of a winter not-so-long-since passed, and I found myself pining for something hoppier and more indicative of spring.  We were ready move on to our final sample of the evening, and Biplane’s seasonal pièce de résistance: the chocolate stout.  Without hesitating, we each took a sip; it was just what we were hoping for.  Strong and smooth, this stout presented flavors of dark chocolate with just enough roasted malt to reassure you that it deserves to be called a stout.  We chatted with Nadine as my buddy finished up the remainder of our samples, unabashedly gleaning as much information as we could about Biplane’s beers and approach to brewing.  All in all, the combination of bold ales and charming conversation was a fine way to end the evening.

My friends and I only make it out to a new brewery once every other month or so.  While it frustrates me that so much time passes between these outings, I’m also glad for it.  The respite provides me with plenty of time to reflect on my thoughts about the brewery’s offerings on tap, what I enjoyed about the physical brewery, and compare other beers to what I tried at the brewery.  The fact that we are able to go out on these “brews cruises” and have a different destination each time is one of my favorite things about living in Spokane.  Though I never shy away from the opportunity travel to distant breweries or to sample beers from far-off lands, it’s comforting to know that I can always go back home and rest assured that great brewing is happening right down the street.