Within a half hour of opening on an early Saturday afternoon, a handful of repeat customers have settled into the taproom at Humble Abode Brewing.
The first customer orders a small pour of everything on the menu. Next, a teenage brother and sister order a couple pints of house-brewed root beer to sip while they play a game of foosball.
"What the hell is a waffle cone porter?" asks another customer as he orders a pint of the Fresh Hop Centennial SMaSH IPA.
Owner and brewer Matt Gilbreath pours a sample of the Sweet Peaks Waffle Cone Porter and explains that the 5.4 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV) beer was made with 30 fresh waffle cones from Sweet Peaks Ice Cream in downtown Spokane.
This scene is a good representation of what Gilbreath was aiming for when he decided to open a commercial brewery and taproom — a welcoming place for everyone and a selection of unique, modern beers on tap.
"We want to know our customers. We want to know how they heard about us, how they feel about our beer," he remarks. "We want to create a home for people."
Located just a few blocks west of Hillyard, the north Spokane brewery and taproom was opened in late August by Gilbreath and his wife, Courtney. It's in an old industrial building with a big garage door, large tables and benches to accommodate groups of any size. Games and TVs are scattered throughout.
With its 10 taps — eight dedicated to Gilbreath's beers, one rotating cider tap and one for his root beer — the taproom offers something for the whole family. While Humble Abode currently doesn't serve food, guests can enjoy complimentary bowls of pretzels to refresh their palate as they sip through the multiple offerings.
Gilbreath says they're considering multiple possibilities for food in the future. Maybe an outside vendor, or a small kitchen. "Like brats, soft pretzels, snack foods," he adds.
Gilbreath, a Staples office supply store manager when he's not at the brewery, got his start homebrewing nearly two years ago in his brother's kitchen. In that short amount time, he says he's brewed nearly 70 batches of beer. He quickly started brewing more and more, constantly offering his friends free growler fills.
"I just wanted them to take beer so I could brew more," he laughs.
Now, he's the owner of a commercial brewery capable of one-barrel (31-gallon) batches of beer. The small system is fitting for Gilbreath's brewing style. With each batch of beer only producing two full kegs, it allows him to experiment and quickly rotate the menu.
He says Humble Abode won't really have any flagships since he likes to brew so many different styles. But he does have a particular appreciation of hop-centric beers.
"We're IPA-forward," he says. "We love hops; we want to showcase hops in all our beers."
He plans to have multiple IPAs on tap at any given time, with a focus on the oh-so-popular New England style. Right now, he says his favorite is the Life Juice N.E. Pale Ale. It's a low ABV (5.2 percent) hazy beer, brewed with Citra, Simcoe and Laurel hops.
He also wants to always have an offering for fans of darker beers. A crowd favorite upon opening was the Coffee Kick-Stouter, which will soon make another appearance on the Humble Abode taplist. The 7 percent ABV stout was made with Roast House 423 cold-brewed coffee and aged on vanilla beans.
Being the first brewery to hit northeast Spokane, Gilbreath mentions the location might make it more difficult for craft beer consumers to hear about his establishment. But that's not going to stop him.
"If the beer's good enough, people will find you," he says. ♦
Humble Abode Brewing • 1620 E. Houston Ave. • Open Wed-Fri 4-9 pm, Sat noon-9 pm and Sun 1-7 pm • facebook.com/ humbleabodebrewing