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What's Brewing? 

Brewery open houses, big beers and news about your hops

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Craft breweries in the Northwest tend to be welcoming places any day you visit, but on Saturday, Feb. 20, the Washington Beer Commission is coordinating an official Open House day to get you better acquainted with your breweries and brewers.

Locally, you can head to English Setter Brewing in Spokane Valley for half-priced appetizers, beers poured through a Randall and a chance to meet the brewers. Also in the Valley, Twelve String Brewing Co. has a couple of barrel-aged sour beers on tap from noon to 10 pm. Perry Street Brewing hosts tours at 2 and 4 pm, while Big Barn Brewing out in Green Bluff has hourly tours from noon to 5 pm and a special tasting for $10 that includes a collectible glass.

NEW BREWS

In Coeur d'Alene, Trickster's Brewing Co. has brought back their Hops on Parade brew. It's still very, very big, measuring in at 9 percent ABV and more than 100 IBUs. Get it while you can at the brewpub on the north side of town.

Also in CdA, Slate Creek Brewing Co. recently rolled out their Royal Humpy English-Style Pale Ale. It's a sessionable brew at just 5.4 ABV and 25 IBU — the sort of beer that might go well with this early spring that appears to be approaching.

Paradise Creek Brewery in Pullman unveiled their new Invective Stout on Super Bowl Sunday. The complex English-style stout features chocolate, coffee and roasted grain flavors for a creamy finish and is a manageable 6.2 percent ABV.

IT WAS NOT A GOOD HOP YEAR

While last fall's fresh hop beers were certainly worth celebrating, the same can't be said for the industry's overall output in 2015.

A report from the Hop Growers of America found that the brutally hot and dry summer in Washington and Oregon, two of the world's primary hop-growing regions, led to a smaller-than-normal hop yield. The story was the same in Europe, where droughts in Germany and elsewhere hampered hop-growing efforts.

Still, the industry is hopeful that this wetter and colder winter is a good sign for the upcoming growing season.

"The unusually high temperatures experienced this past summer were unprecedented, and we do not anticipate a repeat of an early and persistent heat wave," says Ann George, executive director of the Hop Growers of America. ♦

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