Spokane's latest brewery opened its doors just over a month ago, but that's certainly not where the Uprise Brewing Co. story begins. The idea was born nearly a decade ago when two brothers attended a beer fest in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
"We just knew this is what we wanted to do," recalls Ryan Hare.
"Yeah, this should have been around 2014 or 2015. That's when the name Uprise was first created," adds Brandon Hare.
Both were bartenders, but didn't have much experience in craft beer at that time. That Colorado trip, and the following years, however, propelled them toward the journey of opening their dream brewery.
"We were those guys staying up late and nerding out on beers," Ryan says.
He came on as assistant manager at the Flying Goat, the Neapolitan-style pizza restaurant and craft beer bar owned by Jonathan Sweatt in Spokane's Audubon-Downriver neighborhood. Ryan looks back on that job as "going to school about craft beer." He got to work with local breweries and regional brewery representatives through buying beer for the pub and hosting beer-centered events.
Brandon joined him at the Flying Goat in 2016 and eventually became general manager. Ryan moved over to Sweatt's other pizza joint Republic Pi, where he was also general manager. While both brothers were working for Sweatt, they told him early on their intentions to one day open their own spot.
"We had gone to Jonathan a few years back," Brandon remembers. "Ryan and I told him that eventually we were going to want to leave and do our own thing. And he said, 'OK, that's great. But, why don't we do that together instead?'"
That led Sweatt, who also co-owns Downriver Grill, to join Brandon and Ryan on their long venture to opening a brewery. It was an easy choice for Sweatt. He credits the Hares with turning his two pizza pubs into the craft beer destinations they are today.
"It was always about food, but also about craft beer. Really, Brandon and Ryan ran with that," Sweatt says. "I love beer. But these guys live beer. I mean, it's their passion, it's their life."
Uprise is the first brewery to move into the West Central neighborhood, bordering the ever-developing Kendall Yards. It's in a new 6,500-square-foot building with seemingly every tiny detail planned out by the three owners.
It all starts with the beer. Nearly a third of the facility is dedicated to the actual brewery, and the Uprise tap list could quench nearly any craft beer drinker's thirst for malt and hops. The well-rounded offerings range from several IPAs (both hazy and classic hop-forward varieties) to German light and dark lagers to a gose-style fruited sour ale.
The 10-barrel brewhouse reflects Brandon and Ryan's passion for beer. Along with the standard 10-barrel fermenters and two 20-barrel fermenters (for double-batching beer), the brewery's equipped with something that's pretty rare for Spokane: two traditional horizontal lagering tanks to make the ideal Pilsner and other lager goodness. Compared to ales, a lager requires storage for a longer period of time at a cold temperature. These horizontal tanks provide more surface area and less depth, making it easier for the bottom-fermenting yeast to do its job.
It takes more than great equipment to make flawless beer, though. That's where head brewer Riley Elmer comes in. The former Perry Street Brewing brewer left the industry four years ago to take up an office job, but remains a master of the craft.
"We just loved the way that his palate reflected ours," says Ryan. "Very lager driven, very new-school-IPA driven, and [he] just talked about beer in a very similar way to us. Not everybody sees eye to eye with our vision on beer, and Riley fit into that mold perfectly, adding tons of experience that we didn't have."
It doesn't stop at the beer.
The taproom — designed by local architecture firm Uptic Studios — has a lot to offer. There's a "kids corner" loaded with games and activities, making it a truly family-friendly place.
The dog-friendly patio consists of large metal picnic tables, heaters for year-round use, and an outside bar and tap system where people can order beer on Friday and Saturday evenings without stepping foot inside. It's bordered by an AstroTurf area where guests can enjoy cornhole or just huddle around one of several standing tables.
Uprise also boasts an expansive food menu that has plenty of gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian options. Some highlights include the crowd-favorite smash burger with fries or salad ($16), pork taquitos ($11.50), and the jerk cauliflower served as an appetizer ($11) or rice bowl ($16).
"Being hyper focused on food, I think that's one thing that sets us apart," Brandon says. "It's not an afterthought, whatsoever. We have an executive chef that's created an awesome menu of elevated street food."
That chef is Andrew Blakely. Years ago, he was the sous chef at Republic Pi. Since then, he's built quite the impressive culinary résumé, most recently as the executive chef at Vieux Carré NOLA Kitchen.
"He has tons of experience in really high-end fine dining, but also is really passionate about street food," adds Ryan. "That just fit really well with our concept. We wanted to make food that was brewery friendly, but also not necessarily your standard brewery staples."
Uprise is also a totally nut-free facility.
"We wanted to be very aware of allergies, too. [Brandon and Jonathan] have deathly nut allergies, so we know how much that can impact a lot of people," Ryan says.
To top it all off, Uprise brings something entirely fresh to the local scene. Attached to the brewery are five furnished units that are available to rent on Airbnb. There are four small lofts with a Murphy bed and kitchenette, and a larger, ground-floor unit that's ADA- and pet-friendly. Inspired by the brewpubs and hotels owned by the Portland-centered chain McMenamins, Jonathan wanted to bring that experience home.
"They're constantly booked," says Jonathan. "I think a lot of people enjoy the fact that the brewery's right here. They get a free glass when they stay, and they also get a discount when they come into the brewery. We definitely want to connect that experience."
The Hare brothers now share the general manager role at Uprise. But along with the common responsibilities of hiring, scheduling and social media posting, they also frequently work as bartenders as well.
"We want to be a part of creating the culture, creating the community," Brandon explains. "We created a place that we love to work. It was never our goal to start this business and then take off."
"We love bartending," Ryan adds. "That's how we got into this. We really enjoy talking about beer, finding the right beer for somebody, and getting to pour it for them and see them enjoy that." ♦
Uprise Brewing Co. • 617 N. Ash St. • Open Sun-Thu 11 am-10 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-11 pm • uprisebeer.com • 509-368-9411