It seems like every other week there's mention of a new brewery in North Idaho, which has consistently been home to clusters of brewing operations in and around four main areas: Sandpoint, Coeur d'Alene, the Silver Valley and Moscow. The region is fast catching up to its beer-loving neighbors in Eastern Washington.
Sandpoint, for example, officially added one new brewery recently, and has another in the works. Located in a turn-of-the-century blacksmith's building, Utara Brewing (214 Pine St.) pairs Indian cuisine with beer in an industrial-yet-welcoming space.
"We've branded ourselves as a British pub because ale and curry is a common pairing found anywhere in England or their colonies," says David Kosiba, formerly Laughing Dog's brewmeister.
He and partner Christina Stechner, who interned at the famed Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi, India, have recently released four beers: Two Mouths Pale Ale, Maiden Rock IPA, Pine Street Porter and an amber called Painted Pachyderm California Common. Those four will soon be joined by a double IPA. By then, the kitchen should be complete, allowing a slow roll-out of appetizers in October, like papadums, crisp wafers made from nutty chickpea flour, and thick-cut fries, eventually working into a full menu.
Also in Sandpoint, Matchwood Brewing (513 Oak St.) plans to open this fall; its owners are currently aiming for the end of October. Founded by husband-and-wife team of Kennden Culp and Andrea Marcoccio, Matchwood plans to feature locally sourced menu items served alongside English and American IPAs, a kids' play area and a community room for large gatherings.
Located in Athol, and roughly halfway between Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene, Bent Tree Brewing is also expecting to open this fall, offering appointment-only tastings and growler fills.
"We are looking into various community events where we can offer our beers to the public and are also exploring ideas like a weekly growler club," says Janet Pegg, who started the brewery with husband Steve Pegg.
In addition to brewing traditional American styles and a few experimental recipes, they'll be specializing in barley wines and high-alcohol beers, as well as offering home-brewing classes.
Heading south on Highway 95, make a stop at Kilted Growler Tap House (8160 N. Cornerstone Dr., Hayden) for fills of local and regional beers and ciders, including brews from MickDuff's and One Tree Cider House, as well as a modest wine list. Lively and festive, this Scots-themed joint regularly features live music, bingo night, sports specials and the like.
Hayden is also the future home of Trails End Brewing, which is slated to open in 2019. Owners Kirk Chaffin and Jeanine Raymond plan to offer wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza and an assortment of beers in their dog-friendly, 15-barrel brewery.
If you drive by Paragon Brewing (5785 N. Government Way, Coeur d'Alene), take note of recent progress on the forthcoming brewery operation adjacent to the pub, which opened in 2014 with a British-inspired menu and serving other regional brewery's offerings.
"Construction is halfway completed," say owners Chris and Kerry Kieres. "We are hoping to be in production by the end of the year."
Elsewhere in Coeur d'Alene, Slate Creek (1710 N. Fourth St.) has released its first beer brewed under new ownership. The 6 Weight IPA is a traditional American IPA coming in at 6.3 percent alcohol-by-volume.
North Idaho's brewing progress doesn't stop in Coeur d'Alene. Head further south on Saturday, Oct. 13 to the Latah County Fairgrounds in Moscow to enjoy Brewers Fest, a dual fundraiser for the annual county fair and United Way, featuring local faves like Moscow Brewing Company. Also just west of Coeur d'Alene, in Post Falls, is a planned new location for the Filling Station on 5th (current location at 501 Sherman Ave., Coeur d'Alene), slated to open later this fall.
East of there in the Silver Valley's historic town of Wallace, City Limits Pub & Grill is also hosting Oktoberfest on Oct. 13, featuring its own North Idaho Mountain Brewery (108 Nine Mile Rd., Wallace). Have a beer or a bite, then stick around town, where local blues favorite Sammy Eubanks rocks the Eagles Club for only $10. ♦