A Taste of the Inland Northwest Wine and Beer Scene Options abundant across Spokane and North Idaho By Colin Anderson | Photo By Victoria Belle Photography
Flashback 15 to 20 years, and those looking to visit a craft brewery in the greater Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area could easily count their options on a single hand. The same rang true with regards to wineries, where less than a dozen were open for tastings.
Today, it’s an entirely different story. Thanks to the adventurous spirit of some savvy entrepreneurs, consumer demand, and our proximity to some of the best barley-, hop- and grape-growing regions in the country, the Inland Northwest is ripe with choices in which to please your palate. The increase in options has also challenged brewers and winemakers to continually innovate and improve, something we all benefit from with better vintages and complex ales.
One of the original breweries in the area, Northern Lights underwent an overhaul when it rebranded to No-Li, and is now a dominant brand across the entire Northwest. Flagship beers like the Wrecking Ball Stout and Born & Raised IPA have won awards on an international level. No-Li recently took over the former Dry Fly Distilling space and created a massive Bier Hall featuring long tables and a huge screen. It’s the perfect place to watch a football game, and its proximity to the Gonzaga campus means it’s always packed when a Bulldog game is on.
Perry Street Brewing is a cornerstone in the revitalized South Perry neighborhood. Their flagship IPA won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival, and brewers continue to experiment with new hop strains. They also have a tasty stout and Scotch ale for those cold winter days and cool spring nights.
Moving into downtown, Iron Goat Brewing has also seen its presence grow. From an original tiny location few can remember to its beautiful repurposed brick building on the west end of town, it’s another Spokane staple. Traditional ales are found here, but you can also get unique sours and saisons.
Just a stone’s throw from Iron Goat is a newer brewhouse that’s already commanded a loyal following. Brickwest occupies a large indoor/outdoor space that includes a grass lawn where kids can run off some steam. If it’s too cold, there is plenty of seating inside as well as a huge projector screen. Fan favorites include the Brick by Brick IPA, Lucky Penny Marzen, and the Sweet Success Brown Ale.
Moving across the state line, beer fans will find plenty more tasty options in both Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint. A local favorite in Coeur d’Alene is Daft Badger, which is tucked in a neighborhood just a few blocks from the Fourth Street corridor. While the beer alone is worth the visit, the food might be its equal with a new special rolled out every Wednesday. Further north in Hayden you’ll come across Mad Bomber, created by a pair of veterans whose specialty was disarming bombs and bonding over beers.
In Sandpoint, 219 Lounge is a must stop for their fantastic cocktails and just shy of two dozen beers on tap. Featuring beers from No-Li of Spokane, Paragon Brewing out of Coeur d'Alene, Radio Brewing out of Kellogg, and many more, it’s a great place to sample and possibly find your new favorite local, or maybe not so local, brew.
When it comes to wine, there are also some great options in North Idaho. Pend d’Oreille Winery is a favorite both for its tasty offerings and intimate space—which features live music every week. The winery features both reds and white as well as the occasional sweets and dessert wines. Coeur d’Alene Cellars is also home to some wonderful vintages and several experienced winemakers. In downtown Coeur d’Alene, you’ll find Castaway Cellars, a boutique winery that offers small plates with three to six wine tastings.
Back in Washington you’ll find a pair of wonderful Spokane wineries not long after crossing the border. Latah Creek Wine Cellars has been family owned and operated since day one. Most bottles are in the $15 to $30 range, and you’ll find one of the larger selections of whites in the region. Sitting high upon a bluff overlooking the valley, it’s hard not to notice Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. The grounds are especially spectacular in summertime, but the large tasting room can be just as comfortable during the colder months. Arbor Crest offers several collections as well as premium labels. Be sure to stop in for their Fireside Dinner and Music Series that continues through spring.
To the South of town, you’ll find Winescape, opened by a pair of retired WSU professors with a love of wine. Situated in Glenrose, the winery has wonderful views and a relaxed environment. Red wines are the star here with several Cabernet Sauvignon offerings, as well as Bordeaux-style blends. In downtown, you will now find almost too many to mention. Maryhill operates a tasting room in Kendall Yards, and Barrister, Helix, Cougar Crest and Tempus are all within walking distance of each other.
We’d be remiss not to mention Walla Walla, the Mecca when it comes to Washington wine. More than 120 wineries are found here, and if you haven’t spent a weekend here yet, go for it!
The craft beer and wine scene should continue to grow and evolve as more and more people come to call our region home. It’s wonderful knowing that the fruit and grains utilized by the bulk of the industry come from regional farmers just a short drive away.
Even if you think you’ve found your favorite brewery or wine club, don’t be afraid to step out and visit a few more of the wonderful options so close to home.