Live Long and... Imbibe!

The University of California Irvine set out in 2003 to find out what the key to long life might be. They launched their mission by conducting a study of some of the “oldest-old” citizens in the United States. In the study, which they called the 90+ Study, they visited more than 14,000 members of a retirement community in California every six months to test them for neurological and neuro-physical tests, seeking to find an answer to what factors could be attributed to life beyond the age of 90. The common denominators they found might come as a surprise.

Among the factors associated with longevity, the 90 + Study found that subjects who drank two glasses of beer or wine every day decreased their chance of a premature death by 18 percent, and those who drank two cups of coffee a day saw a 10 percent decrease in the chance. As if this wasn’t enough good news for the Hedonists among us, they also found that subjects who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than their underweight or “normal” weight contemporaries.

“People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained.” - 90 + Study, University of California Irvine

Researchers haven’t been able to explain why this statistic holds true over the course of 15 years, but at this point it seems irrefutable. Whether it’s simply because those who continue to dabble in life’s simple pleasures have less stress and more joy in their lives, or because coffee and alcohol have life preserving powers, we wait anxiously to find out, beer in hand.


Life in the Beer and Now

As we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the longest “spring” in human history, I would like to take a moment to focus on the little glimpses of light in the winter-like darkness that has become our perpetual reality. Not everything is terrible. For instance, most of the snow in Stevens County is melted. Unless, of course, you travel above 2000 feet elevation, or just outside of town, then there is still snow. But we do have some bare ground showing, and for that, in early April, I am grateful. We have also had at least 35 minutes of sunlight in the last seven days. If that isn’t enough to make you put your flip flops on and tell Mother Nature to take her prozac, then maybe this is: We at least have good beer in the tri-county area.

 Maybe we’re not Bend, Oregon, or Portland, or Seattle, but for an out-of-the-way place with the population density slightly higher than the Australian outback, we’re doing ok.

 From Quartzite in Chewelah to Republic Brewing in (obviously) Republic, and the Colville Pour House smack dab in the middle with its many, many delightful and rotating taps, it’s love at first flight on a visit to any of our local breweries.

 If you haven’t ventured out of hibernation yet, it’s time, y’all. Northern Ales in Kettle Falls is rocking the latest from their adventurous Funk Tank series, the Rose Hip Sour. It’s fermented with locally picked Rose Hips, offers up some wake-up tartness and a whole lot of springtime in a glass.     

 Fired Up Brewing in both Chewelah and Colville boasts a solid lineup of regulars, plus a few rotating guest taps and seasonals, like my own personal favorite, the Whiskey Barrel Brown. Also, FYI, Fired up started serving breakfast and makes a MEAN Breakfast Blonde Mary… like a bloody mary, but with their delicious Bear Creek Blonde.

 Quartzite also has a delightful Brown, the Browns Lake Brown, and in case you haven’t heard they made a Milk Shake IPA that is, well… just try it. Like nothing you’d expect. Republic Brewing launched the Forest "Grew It" made with ponderosa pine needles, coffee, chicory and dandelion root, which plays out like an end-of-winter magic spell, and their Wildfire Smoked Amber sits for 90 days in Dry Fly Whiskey barrels.

 I’m looking forward to more taste trials as our local brewers delve into more beer making endeavors and join the growing ranks of solid beer providers in the tri county area. For now, they provide a bright spot in the bleak and never-ending winter-spring of 2019.


Not So Hostile Takeover

In the age of accessibility, availability and occasional oversharing (*ahem), it’s only reasonable that our little community should have opportunity to partake in good beers that don’t originate right here. Transporting imbibements, and beer specifically, is an age-old tradition that is responsible for the trendy hop-love born from IPAs, originally English ale with extra hops added to preserve freshness on the long voyage from Great Britain to colonial India. Now days, beers are moved in refrigerated trucks and other evolved transport technology, with extra hops added just for fun, and because it’s a lot easier to share good beers from coast to coast, a  phenomenon known as the “tap takeover” has taken over the beer-serving establishments nationwide.

 Here’s how it works: A local bar or restaurant invites a specific guest brewery, sometimes local, sometimes more remote, to take over all of their beer taps for an evening, forcing patrons to try a sample of the guest beer or go dry. It’s a great way to expose wary stick-in-the-routine-mud types to new styles and flavors, and it’s a win-win for establishment and brewer alike to figure out what works for specific demographics and what doesn’t.

 For St. Patrick’s Day, Backyard BBQ had Rogue Ales & Spirits from Oregon up to takeover their taps, and one of Rogue’s local reps was on hand to give away Rogue gear and talk up the product. Backyard almost always has Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale on tap, and it’s one of my personal favorites. The takeover was a big hit, packing out the back room at Backyard, and winning over more than a few coors light drinkers to the wonders of small-batch brewing. In addition to Dead Guy, Rogue brought their crowd-pleasing Honey Kolsch, a Hazelnut Brown Nectar and Outta Line IPA.

Iron Horse in the House!

Iron Horse in the House!

 Colville Pour House has tap takeovers on the regular, one recent installation was Iron Horse Brewing out of Ellensburg, famous for their dark-but-mild Irish Death Ale. The Iron Horse rep at the Thursday night event was able to educate the Pour House clientele about the brewery’s other offerings, including the High Five Hefeweizen (a hit among the Coors Light crowd - you know who you are), Hand Cannon IPA and the Double Rainbow India Red Ale, which was an interesting mix between a red and an IPA with a twist of tartness. This Thursday (May 16) Ninkasi Brewing is taking over the taps at Colville Pour House. Known for their fearless hoppery, including the infamous Total Domination IPA, the Eugene based brewery is the master of the IPA lover’s IPA.

 The best part of tap takeovers, other than (obviously) the great beer you might not have another chance to try, is the SWAG that you’ll have a chance to nab. Most takeover reps come with pint glasses and stickers for handing out and tons of raffle prizes.

 Colville Pour House has a regular lineup of tap takeovers that you can find out about on their Facebook page. Backyard BBQ has more planned in the future, and a handful of other spots around the area feature them from time to time. Make sure to check out the next tap takeover near you, we promise you won’t regret it!

Going Rogue at Backyard BBQ

Going Rogue at Backyard BBQ

Lighten Up! The light beer/microbrew conundrum

Tastes Great? Less Filling? The microbrewing world has long been a hostile environment for beers of the lighter variety, where hop-heavy IPAs look down their collective noses at the sessionable pilsners and such with fewer calories and lower alcohol content. “Light” beers  have been a blue collar American staple since George Washington was brewing “small beer” at Mount Vernon. While Miller Brewing might claim the copyright to the first American “Lite Beer” (which was actually developed by Joseph L. Owades, a biochemist for Rheingold Breweries in Brooklyn, N.Y. who first made “Gablinger's Diet Beer”), it’s actually a science that has been practiced since contaminated water sources were fermented lightly enough to kill of pathogens before these “near beers” were served to the neighborhood kids.

While some of our communities may still face water concerns (eg. Northern Ales’ tongue in cheek “It’s better than the water!” slogan), most of us drink light beer these days because let’s face it, even the most  hipster among us can do with a few less calories than your standard microbrew packs in. Plus who could look less image-concerned than someone in skinny jeans with a beard and a can of Busch Light?

But back to microbreweries, and more importantly, the local ones: One of the reasons that light brews are few and far between at small batch breweries is due to the complexity of brewing a barely-there beer that tastes good AND filters out the broad spectrum of flavor variabilities that come with using continuously changing ingredient formats and supplies. Making a light beer, it turns out, is heavy work.

With summer coming up, many of our thoughts and taste buds are turning towards lighter options, and while we might not have many true “light” beers on tap, we’ve got some pretty rad alternatives.

Up-and-coming Fired Up Brewing didn’t pull any punches when they decided to offer real live Bud Light on tap at their place in Colville. If that doesn’t distract most calorie concerned drinkers and rednecks, their Bear Creek Blonde gives a solid run at an easy drinking, light colored, lower alcohol content beer. It’s one of the closest things to a light that we’ve got around here at 4% ABV, and it’s good, to boot.

Northern Ales in Kettle Falls has been brewing a light-ish lager since their days of inception in Northport. Back then the “Etzel Lager” gave the local beer non-snobs something to look forward to after a long day on EPA clean ups. After Northern Ales’ migration to Kettle Falls, the aptly named Grouch Lager (ABV 3.5%) moved in as a permanent fixture, and a fan favorite.

Chewelah’s Quartzite Brewing’s lightest brew on tap is currently the Fool’s Prarie Kolsch, which still clocks in at a hearty 5% ABV.

Republic Brewing has a seasonal Golden Lily Lager on tap which is 5.4% ABV, and a Bavarian Weizen 5.2%, both strong enough to knock them out of the light beer category (traditionally under 3.5% ABV), but as far as summer beers at a microbrewery goes, they’re lighter and more refreshing than some of their more dense counterparts.

The Pour House in Colville usually has several lighter-variety beers to choose from on tap as well, you can check out their updated list here.

Fired Up’s Bear Creek Blonde

Fired Up’s Bear Creek Blonde

April Showers Bring May... SOURS!

March definitely came storming in like a proverbial lion, and coasted gently out on spring-like temperatures and sunshine. April brought us the expected showers (plus some), but this May, along with your blossoming daffodils and crocuses (crocii??), brew lovers can look forward to a different flavor budding up. Making a surge in popularity in recent years after all the IPA hype wore down, sour ales have emerged as an interesting alternative to the traditional bitter hoppiness of microbrews.

Historically speaking, sour beers are nothing new. Before the advent of refrigeration and sanitation, many beer developed a tart flavor due to the creeping in of misunderstood “wild” bugs like Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, as well as Brettanomyces yeasts that resulted in a sour flavor.

Belgian brewers have been adding these cultures to their beers for generations.The first imported Belgian Sours hit American markets in the 1970s but it was nearly two decades before brewers in the U.S. started to experiment with the long-shunned bacteria, giving poor old Louis Pasteur a roll in his grave.

European brews like the Belgian lambic, a spontaneously fermented sour made with wild yeasts and native bacteria, and gose, an ancient German spin on spontaneously fermented wheat beer, have become trendy sidekicks on taster flights riddled with IPAs and other ales.

Power Peak Peach Sour, photo courtesy of Quartzite Brewing

Power Peak Peach Sour, photo courtesy of Quartzite Brewing

Local brewers have only recently ventured into the world of spontaneous fermentation, using active live cultures and usually a fruit or herb, per European custom, to create fascinating flavors for their sours. Quartzite Brewing in Chewelah just polished off a run of delectable Pomegranate Sour - but not to fear, a batch of Power Peak Peach Sour was released on April 25th. Northern Ales is rocking a Tart Rosehip beer right now, and the Colville Pour House and Fired Up frequently host sours on tap.

 In the most exciting local sour beer news of all, Quartzite and Northern Ales are working together, along with Republic Brewing, to create a brand new Golden Sour for Craft Beer Week in Spokane later this month.

Craft Beer Week takes place from May 13th-19th, and features microbrew collaborations from brewers all over the Inland Northwest, culminating in a tasting event hosted by one of the local breweries. 2019 marks the first year that Northern Ales, Republic Brewing and Quartzite have all thrown in together, and needless to say, we’re excited about it. You can find more information at or check with one of our breweries for updates on the new sour beer!

Brewer’s Billy Burt (Republic Brewing) John Sullivan (Northern Ales) and Patrick Sawyer (Quartzite Brewing) rally up for a special collaboration sour.

Brewer’s Billy Burt (Republic Brewing) John Sullivan (Northern Ales) and Patrick Sawyer (Quartzite Brewing) rally up for a special collaboration sour.

Beer Mine

zythophile -noun - m (plural zythophiles)

  1. A lover of beer

Sunny Days APA at Northern Ales

 OK, let’s be honest. Other than your dog, nothing loves you as unconditionally as a good beer. Nothing gives you the relentless warm fuzzies better than a gentle lullaby whispered from the frothy embrace of a decent pint. Beer is love. Love is beer. I’ve been saying it for years, usually preceded by a hashtag, or, if you are a premillennial, the pound sign. (#beerislove). Beer doesn’t nag. It doesn’t make unreasonable demands or deliver irrational ultimatums. Beer doesn’t ignore, reject, avoid or ghost you. It’s just there, always loving you.

 Valentine’s Day is coming up, and if you’re already entangled in a love affair that requires the effort of demonstration, can I recommend a beer date with your Valentine? Sure, wine and pasta is all good, and far be it from me to turn down a dozen red roses, but what says “be mine” quite like a growler of unconditional, or if you wish, cask-conditioned, beer love. Just to prove that I am not alone in my zythophilia, I have collected some of my favorite quotes about beer and love, and have matched them with a local beer. You might be able to argue with me, but who’s gonna challenge Ben Franklin?

“Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world” - Kaiser Wilhelm. We’re pretty sure ol’ Willy would be down with Republic Brewing Company’s Falligan’s Red, a hardy red made with rye malt that rings in at 5.3% ABV and 32 IBUs, easy drinking and enough to make the last King of Prussia swoon.

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” - Benjamin Franklin. Try RBC’s Bob’s Your Uncle, a light, biscuity bitter with an ABV of 3.7% and 30 IBUs. (P.S. Franklin’s original quote was about wine, but it has been so widely circulated in it’s incorrect form that I don’t feel bad about joining the misinformed masses. Also, I am sure Poor Richard meant wine AND beer.)

“Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.” - Henry Lawson. Maybe he’s not talking about love, but he’s definitely talking about feelings, and what better feeling is there than love? Coming up blank? Try a Sunny Days APA from Northern Ales and you’ll get it. 4.8% ABV and 40 IBUs make it a loveable, drinkable delight, fit for a fool, or a lover, which might be the same exact thing.

“Beer is love.” - Liv Stecker. OK, so maybe she’s not a rockstar or one of our Founding Fathers or the King of Prussia, but she knows her beer and a thing or two about emotions (also, she is KIND of a rockstar). Try the Grouch Lager, 3.5% ABV and 8 IBUs, that’s always on tap at Northern Ales. You’ll be feeling the love.

“I’ve only been in love with a beer bottle and a mirror.” - Sid Vicious. If this resonates with you, we recommend that you try Quartzite’s Belshazzar Mountain Cascadian Dark Ale, a dark IPA that’s just like a big hug in a glass. The 7.2% ABV might help too.

And last, but certainly not least, an ode to beer written by Edgar Allan Poe, because nothing says love like a sonnet. We suggest a giant mug of Quartzite Brewing’s Goddard Peak IPA - the 6.7% ABV will make you swoon and 56 IBUs are like poetry for your tastebuds.

“Fill with mingled cream and amber,

I will drain that glass again.

Such hilarious visions clamber

Through the chambers of my brain.

Quaintest thoughts — queerest fancies,

Come to life and fade away:

What care I how time advances?

I am drinking ale today.”

New Beers Resolution

Everyone is expecting you to kick off 2019 with a full repertoire of healthy choices and good decisions that involve exercise and eating right and suffering in all of its forms. But not me. I’m here to recommend - nay - commission you to something greater. Something happier. Something much, much more fun. A New Beers Resolution.

This one goes out to all the Bud Light devotees near and dear to my heart. To the the lager lovers and blonde believers. The passionate pilsenerers and the unwavering weizeners, my challenge to you for 2019 is to extend the courageous olive branch of peace to the craft beer styles that you’ve been avoiding and give them a fighting chance.

Let go of the superstitious fear of skinny jeans and man-buns. Screw your courage to the sticking place and take a taste adventure. I say this as a fan of both Pabst Blue Ribbon and an array of pale ales. There is room in your palate for both. Beer doesn’t have to taste like Coors Light to be beer, any more than apple juice should taste like grape juice or guava nectar. It’s a rainbow of beer flavor out there, and there’s no time like the present to start exploring.

Don’t sample a stout looking for Pilsner flavors. Try it on a cold night with something warm and chocolatey. It’s as good as coffee, but trust me, you’ll sleep better. Give a hoppy pale ale a fair shake with a zesty pizza or a kraut-loaded brat that will match it blow-for-blow in flavor. Try a sour or saison with something light and refreshing on a sunny day to capture the intricate ad wholesome freshness of a well-cultured Beer.

We’re lucky in our area to boast a heart selection of all of these adventurous flavors on tap. Location is no excuse for you to miss out of fresh and interesting beer flavors. Try one new beer style each month this year. Use the guide below for some ideas, and as 2020 rolls around, if you still prefer Bud Light, no worries! I’ll buy the first round!

Quartzite Brewing taster flight

January: snuggle in to a Stout - this dark beer is traditionally served at room temperature in the United Kingdom along with a hearty meal of bangers (sausage) and mash (potatoes). Try Northern Ales’ Smelters Ash Stout, Fired Up Brewing has a cozy Vanilla Stout on tap that is sure to warm you up this cold January, give Quartzite Brewing’s Iron Mountain Stout a go, or maybe try Republic Brewing Company’s Irish Eyes Stout.

February: Rosès are red - Rosè beers are the hottest new trend and are a pretty pink addition to the budding world of fruit beers. Often (but not always) made as a sour, with a robust helping of (usually) raspberries to round out the tones and flavor, this blushing brew will get you in the mood for love. Check the rotating taps at the Colville Pour House or Fired Up Brewing for one of these beauties.

March: Comes in like a Saison - Beer drinkers have tended away from saisons and other bottle conditioned ales, but there’s no reason to be afraid of these complex and interesting beers that, much like spring weather, are full of surprises. Try Quartzite’s Stranger Mountain Saison, or Colville Pour House always has a saison or two on tap, and you can catch them on guest taps at Fired Up often as well.

April: Hoppy Easter!! - This is the month to taste you some good old fashioned India Pale Ales, the mother-of-all craft beers and the pride and joy of hipster/brew snobs coast to coast. Try Northern Ales’ trademark Flume Creek, Quartzite’s Goddard’s Peak IPA, Republic Brewing’s Widowmaker, and Fire Up Brewing’s Stray Dog IPA.

May: April Showers Bring May Sours - The name might scare you off, but if you haven’t given sour beers a chance you might be missing out on your new favorite. Traditionally cask-aged, sours, like saisons, are fermented with Iive cultures, producing fascinating flavors and a surprising twist on beer drinking appropriate for spring tasting. Try the Colville Pour House for a solid sour on tap, or if you can catch the Power Peak Sour at Quartzite, you won’t be disappointed.

June: Brown, Brown, Brown Brown.. - June is my birthday month and therefore you should try one of my favorite beers. Brown ales are traditionally a happy malted medium between a toasty darker brew and frivolous blondes. They’ve got just enough muscle to be interesting but a good nut-brown shouldn’t bowl you over with hoppy IBUs. Republic Brewing’s Brush Fit Brown is one of their trademark taps.

July: ‘MERICA! Pale Ale - try an APA. This lighter version of the IPA is a happy revolution from the British pale ales that were dry hopped to preserve them in hot East Indian British colonies. Because we know what it’s like to be an English colony and we (of course) had to do it it our own way. It’s like the Boston Tea Party, but for beer. Republic Brewing has their standard Republic Ale APA on tap and you can usually find an APA on tap at the Pourhouse in Colville and occasionally at Northern Ales and Quartzite.

August: It’s Hot Out, Kolsch Off - Try this light and refreshing German beer on a hot day. You can thank me when you feel that frothy chill all the way to your toes. Fools Prairie Kolsch is a staple at Quartzite Brewing in Chewelah, and will not disappoint.

September: RED Summer - Try a red. A sturdy cousin to brown ales and just a shade or two more interesting than a blonde, red ales, Irish Reds and the like offer a delectable variation on a robust but not-too-hoppy malted Ale. Fired Up Brewing keeps Radar Dome Red (as well as a dry hopped version) on tap year round in Colville and Chewelah, and Republic Brewing

October: Polka to a Porter! - Oktoberfest means one thing: dark beer. And sausage and sauerkraut and pretzels with beer-cheese dip and wiener dog races and lederhosen… ok, so More than one thing, but dark beer is the keystone of any good Oktoberfest and porter is the keystone of all dark beers. The foundation of stouts and the elder-statesman of brown ales, Try a porter on for size while you enjoy some accordion music and learn how to yodel. Trust me, it will make it easier.

November: Doppel-up! It’s the Holidays! - Try a Doppel Bock or a Dunkel this month. The extra-strong punch delivers a double dose of holiday spirit and/or tolerance for all those incoming relatives. Colville Pour House has a doppel on tap periodically, as well as Northern Ale’s

December: You made it! It’s the last month of the year! Reward yourself with an easy drinking blonde... You’re gonna need something a little easier going to get through all the heavy holiday eating and peopling… try Fired Up’s Bear Creek Blonde, Republic Brewing’s Kettle River Drifter, or see if Northern Ales is still rocking their Hella Blonde, and merry everything!