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.


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!