Matt Hanson's major contributions to local craft beer began in 2015 when he wanted an official week celebrating the region's beer scene. Hanson, with the help of his brother Clete, brought the Brewers Association's American Craft Beer Week to Spokane.
Hanson now runs his own commercial brewery, Whistle Punk Brewing, but is still the sole organizer of Spokane Craft Beer Week every May.
Building a brand in Spokane
The idea came to Hanson after multiple trips to Seattle's annual event. He recalls local places doing a couple of small events during American Craft Beer Week, but no cohesive brand.
"[Craft Beer Week] gives breweries a platform to host a whole week of events and do something where they can, one time of year, blow it out and give people a reason to travel to their taproom."
Local beer is important
"There's the importance of just local business in general, in terms of keeping money in the city and supporting your neighbors and supporting the people of Spokane. Also, the more you support local beer, the better it's going to get. The whole goal is to bring all of Spokane up together. So that we're looked at as a city sort of like Bend or Portland where there aren't bad breweries."
The future of Spokane beer is bright
Does Hanson believe our region has the potential to be a beer destination like Bend or Portland?
"I do, yeah. We already have the numbers. We have a lot of great minds in our industry. I think there's some really cool breweries in the process of opening up.
"Spokane is a place that's growing, just culinary wise, beer wise, population wise, everything. I think that bringing overall quality up is important, and there's a lot of measures happening right now to make that happen."