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Fresh hops are coming, and so is the beer festival season

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September is my favorite beer month of the year. That's, of course, because hops have been — or are being — harvested and getting ready to be made into fresh hop beers. Speaking of...

Once again, Iron Goat is calling on all backyard, front yard and neighbor's yard hop growers to generously bring their crops to the brewery to help with their annual community-sourced fresh hop beer. On Saturday, Sept. 12, beginning at 11 am, you're invited to join fellow hop cultivators in picking the cones while the brewers prepare the base of the beer. Then you get to toss your hard-grown hops into the mix and let Iron Goat do the rest. You will be compensated with "food and refreshments," the brewery says.

Down in Pullman, Paradise Creek Brewery announced the debut of their Arc Flash ISA, a richly hopped ale (with four different hop types) that's only 4.1 percent alcohol by volume. "Engineering the recipe for a session beer that didn't taste at all like a session beer was a really big project for us," says Tom Handy, Paradise Creek's owner and head brewer. Arc Flash, which has been more than a year in the making, is set to debut at the Paradise Creek pub in downtown Pullman and in 22-ounce bottles at select stores on Sept. 14.

At Nectar Beer and Wine in Kendall Yards, Laughing Dog is the chosen brewery of the month. There are currently a few of the North Idaho brewery's rarer beers, like their grapefruit pale ale, a sour and the very potent Alpha Dog Imperial IPA. Six Laughing Dog beers (which may change) are set to be on tap throughout September.

No-Li Brewhouse has gotten into the habit of taking cocktail recipes and turning them into remarkable beers. First there was the citrus-meets-malts taste of their Brass Monkey. Now they're beer-ifying the popular Moscow Mule, with the release on Sept. 22 of Copper Donkey in time for the fall/winter beer season. The beer is brewed with fresh ginger and equinox hops to give it lemon and lime notes. "Winter Warmer has always been well received, but we really want to push the boundaries with our seasonal brews. Brass Monkey definitely got people excited, and we're stoked to continue to experiment with unique flavors in our newest beers," says No-Li operations manager Damon Scott. Be careful with this one, though — it's 8 percent ABV.

Beer festivals are a beloved fall tradition, and the season got an early start last weekend at Schweitzer Mountain Resort's Fall Festival, which brought hordes of beer fans to the base of the mountain to brave the rain in order to imbibe in more than 70 beers. Next up is the Spokane Oktoberfest at the River, Sept. 25-27, promising authentic German traditions and, of course, German beer. After that is the grandaddy of beer fests in our region: the Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival, slated for Oct. 2-3 in the outfield of Avista Stadium. If you don't mind a little drive for amazing beers, head to Yakima for the annual Fresh Hop Ale Festival, also on Oct. 3. ♦

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