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!).

Tropic-ale Breeze

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“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

This statement almost exclusively serves as a disclaimer for an activity that almost certainly turned out to be a bad idea.  The present case is a happy exception.  This cocktail seemed like a good idea at the time, and, to my delighted dismay, it actually was good.  Really good.

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As an admitted beer geek, I had distinct feelings of trepidation and doubt when I first heard the premise of a beer cocktail.  Why would one want to mix beer with anything else?  I understand the allure of a celebratory Irish Car Bomb on St. Patty’s day, but beyond that, it seems like a waste of a good beer to mix it with liquor.  Well, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

The good people of Spokane recently enjoyed the thrill of having a Total Wine & More store added to their growing retail base.  It’s about the closest thing to a grown-up toy store (save the naughty type) that there is.  There are so many choices, and where to begin?!  As part of the “& More” of its name, the store features all manner of peculiar spirits and exotic beers, so the mixing and matching possibilities are endless.  During a recent visit, my curiosity was piqued when I came across  Northwest Brewing Company‘s Mango Weizen.  Color me intrigued!  I had to have it.  That said, I purchased it, and it’s been sitting in my refrigerator ever since.  I didn’t feel right drinking a tropically themed beer while it was still lingering in the 40s outside.  However, the temperature has now warmed, and Mango Weizen’s time to shine has finally come.

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It’s time to get in the spirit of pre-summer.  As I later had plans to watch a film in which a variety of players come together to create one super team on the day I dreamt up this concoction, it was only appropriate that the evening’s selected beverage do that same, albeit with a fruity twist. (If you guessed that I was describing The Avengers, you were all-the-way right.  Well done.)  Mango Weizen will serve as the fearless leader (Captain America), a bit of orange juice will add a bold bit of flash and pizzazz (Iron Man), and a shot of peach schnapps will add some extra power (Thor).  To top things off, let’s garnish it wish a slice of fresh lime (I didn’t forget about you, Hulk).  Done and done.

Tropic-ale Breeze

1.5 oz peach schnapps

8 oz. Mango Weizen

3 oz. orange juice (fresh-squeezed or from concentrate)

1 slice of fresh lime (optional)

To Make the Cocktail:

In a pint glass, combine the orange juice and peach schnapps.  With the glass slightly tilted, gently pour in the beer.  Add a few ice cubes until the glass is full.  Garnish with slice of fresh lime.  Enjoy!

Night Out: Dogfish Head at Manito Tap House

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It’s a school of Dogfish (bottle-openers)!

Thursday is quickly becoming the new Friday.  I had never heard the term “Thirsty Thursday” prior to hitting college, but in the years since, I have found that it is a staple of many working class social schedules.  For those who may not know, Thirsty Thursday essentially adds an extra evening of fun to your weekend: it’s a step up from the perfunctory weekday happy hour, but a few steps down from an all-out Friday night bar bar-hopping extravaganza.  It’s a good time.

Last week, my crew and I headed to Manito Tap House on Spokane’s South Hill for our own pre-weekend get-together.  None of us were strangers to this particular gastropub: we had ventured up here on several occasions to sample myriad beer styles and the products of breweries both far and wide.  Tonight, we had a very specific purpose for making the journey south, that being to check out the eight (eight!) different brews on tap from Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.  The allure of potentially nabbing some Dogfish Head swag was also a contributing factor in determining our destination.  We were on a mission and could not be deterred.

Manito Tap House is known throughout town for being one of the best bars to not only enjoy rare, limited-release, and otherwise difficult-to-find beers, but also because there is a decent chance that you may run into a brewer or representative from any number of breweries enjoying a pint there.  About once a month or so, Manito Tap House hosts events with featured breweries.  These events may be a few hours of featured beers or exclusive firkins, or an entire four-course meal designed around a few of a brewery’s highlighted brews.  Past participants of these brewer’s nights have included Hopworks Urban Brewery, Ninkasi, Big Sky Brewing Company, Laughing Dog, Lagunitas, Harmon, Fremont, Deschutes, and New Belgium, and that’s not even the complete list!

Considering Dogfish Head’s formidable list of past brews and collaborations, we were more than a little eager to see what was on tap and, consequently, sample every Dogfish Head brew available.  Though we didn’t doubt that we would be, we were not disappointed.  While waiting for our table, we took some time to review the tap list and to make some preliminary decisions regarding what we would drink.  We all felt delightfully smothered by the IPA selections alone: the nationally-lauded and palate-busting 90 Minute IPA, the old world/new wave blend that is Burton Baton, a biting ale with a whisper of sweet stonefruit known as Aprihop, and the debut of Hop 644 in a Sierra Nevada collaboration called Rhizing Bines.  Though IPAs are an unrelenting crowd favorite in these parts, the options didn’t stop there.  We were also treated to the magnificent alternatives of the comforting Indian Brown, the warming Chicory Stout, and, the sole lager of the line-up, the startlingly hoppy My Antonia.  Hold up- there was one more.  This was the big daddy of the group, in more ways than one.  Weighing in at an astounding 18% ABV, one of Dogfish Head’s “Occasional Rarities”, a vintage 1/26/2012 World Wide Stout.  Did I mention it was 18% ABV, as in over four times as potent as your average Bud Light?  Yay or yikes?  A bit of both, really.  On the off chance that one was not altogether satisfied with the magnificently wide-ranging choices on tap, Dogfish Head’s gluten-free gem, Tweason Ale, was also available by the bottle.  We were getting thirsty just thinking about the choices, so we were more than eager to order by the time we sat down at our table.

After some careful consideration of the choices, including discussions of IBU and ABV levels, adjuncts, and pour volumes, (yes, we’re all…ahem…beer snobs) we made our choices.  The possibility of sampling a new hop variety was too much for one of my friends and I to resist, so we started off with a pint each of Rhizing Bines.  Another wanted something a bit more passively hoppy, so it was My Antonia for him.  Yet another couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on anything at all, so she went with the sample paddle, allowing her to try six beers of her choosing.  Only one brave soul in our quartet took the plunge and ordered the World Wide Stout.  Little did he know, we’d all be helping him finish it.  As is the way of things, after being served our beers, each pint was passed around so that it could be smelled, tasted, and analyzed by each person.  My friend and I were both intrigued by Rhizing Bines: not as bombastically citrusy as some other IPAs we had had, this was more soft-spoken.  Glowing gold in color and dry-hopped with a brand new hop varietal, this ale did a splendid job of showcasing Hop 644, all while providing the drinker with an unrelenting and altogether drinkable IPA.  A quick poll of those at our table revealed that everyone else was equally satisfied with his/her selections.  We were off to an excellent start.

Each of us took our sweet time with our beers.  With such unique and altogether enjoyable brews, we all seemed to agree that it would have been a waste of a good beer to simply toss it back and move on to the next one.  Oh, no.  Good things take time.  So, sip away, we did, chatting about what was new with everyone, recent vacations, big moves, and additional topics of varying relevance.  All in all, a magnificent time was had by all enjoying both the beers and the company.

After finish our first round of Dogfish Head beers, we succumbed to the temptation to try a few more of the incredibly unique available brews.  One couldn’t resist the draw of Rogue’s Morimoto Imperial Pilsner, one of her personal favorites.  I was fascinated by the prospect of Fort George’s Roses on Roses, an imperial IPA aged in a Four Roses bourbon barrel and conditioned with rose hips; it was lovely and terrifically ladylike.  After tackling the behemoth that was the World Wide Stout, my friend’s husband was ready to take things down a notch, ABV-wise, opting for another Dogfish Head Brew, Indian Brown Ale.  Succeeding our head-first swan dives into Dogfish Head’s realm of extreme brews, we took comfort in the knowledge that we had accomplished our goal for the evening, that being to take in all that Dogfish Head had to offer.

By the time we got to wrapping up our second round, our initial hopes of walking away with some Dogfish Head memorabilia had entirely slipped our minds.  Having taken advantage of the opportunity to drink some exceptional beers brewed thousands of miles away was memorabilia enough.  My friends and I each had a grand time sampling new beers and chatting to our hearts’ contents.  Our adventure out was an ambrosial distraction from our workweeks and an exultant excuse to venture out from our habitual neighborhood hang-outs.  The merry memory now has me pining for our next beer-venture.  Is it Thursday yet?