Pin It
Favorite

Beer Battle 

Why Northern Lights became No-Li

click to enlarge art17957.jpg

Northern Lights Brewing Company made news a couple of weeks ago when it overhauled its branding and changed its name to the strikingly similar “No-Li Brewhouse.” Confused? We were, too.

First, the reason for the overhaul. Brewmaster and owner Mark Irvin, who started the Gonzaga-area brewery 18 years ago in a little building in Airway Heights, has teamed up with John Bryant, a veteran of the beer industry (Rainier, Weinhard’s, Deschutes, Odell, Oskar Blues) who is moving to Spokane from Colorado to be closer to his wife’s family. They’ve purchased a new bottling line and plan to up production from 1,500 barrels per year to 4,500 in the next 12 months — making more beer overall, and putting more of their beers into bottles (only three are available now, in 22-ounce bottles).

Though the line-up of beers won’t change much, says Irvin, the packaging will. Their look was re-imagined by British Columbia designer Riley Cran, who has jettisoned the old borealis for a clean, modern look that emphasizes the company’s Spokane roots.

So, too, will the brewhouse change. There are plans to renovate the back patio space with gas fireplaces and a pergola strung with hop vines.

Irvin says they plan to grow their distribution, too — a new contract with distributing company Odom will expand its reach in the Inland Northwest and hopefully, eventually, push them into Colorado and even to New York City where, Irvin says, Bryant has connections.

But that’s where the name change comes in. Irvin says when they began to discuss future plans for the brewery, they discovered a company on the East Coast that bottles and distributes a “Northern Lights IPA.”

And the company is partially owned by Anheuser-Busch, one of the biggest beer companies in the world. Cue the lawyers.

Though Irvin had been trading on the “Northern Lights” name for almost two decades, Irvin and Bryant quickly realized they didn’t have the firepower to fight the industry.

“‘You know, we’re not sleeping well, we’re spending money and we’re getting nowhere,’” Bryant recalls saying to Irvin over beers one evening. “‘Let’s take the high road here.’” The “No-Li,” then, while still alluding to the company’s former name, is also a hint at that forthrightness in the face of a giant conglomerate. There’s also an inside joke in the new moniker for the company’s pale ale. It’s named after the response their pleas got from the big-city lawyers. It’s called “The Silent Treatment.”

No-Li Brewhouse • 1003 E. Trent Ave. • nolibrewhouse.com (242-2739)

  • Pin It

Speaking of Beer

  • Always New
  • Always New

    A longtime Spokane chef ventures out with CRATE
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • Beer, Right Here
  • Beer, Right Here

    Do the inaugural Spokane Brewers Festival your way
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • New Neighbors
  • New Neighbors

    As one Moscow brewery shuts down, two others take its place
    • Jul 28, 2016
  • More »

Latest in Food & Drink

  • A Good Foundation
  • A Good Foundation

    An exploration of the very different kinds of pizza crust found in Spokane
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Hops 
and Hogs
  • Hops and Hogs

    How a gearhead's love of beer resulted in V Twin Brewing Company
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • Teamwork
  • Teamwork

    Artisan cider and mead come together at Solace in Kendall Yards
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
SAS Ornament & Small Works Show

SAS Ornament & Small Works Show @ Spokane Art School

Mondays-Fridays. Continues through Dec. 23

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Joel Smith

Most Commented On

Readers also liked…

  • The Five-Year Plan
  • The Five-Year Plan

    For Dry Fly Distilling, making something not everyone can get is part of the fun
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • Begin Again
  • Begin Again

    Both a church and a café, the Gathering House helps people coming out of poverty
    • Apr 22, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation