Cute name, terrific beer, something for everyone. I'm talking about the Inland Northwest Ale Trail. I toured a little part of the Trail recently and I can tell you: it's a great idea that every beer lover (or liker) will adore. And from the But-Wait-There’s-More Dept., let me tell you: it's about more than beer. Yes, the Trail is a new community feature that highlights the Spokane region's growing "craft beer" scene. But, honestly, you don't have to be a beer person to dig it.
If you want to take it...take the Trail...here's how it works: 16 different breweries are on a (handy! attractive!) map that encompasses a big chunk of the area: Airway Heights to Wallace to Pullman to Coeur d'Alene. There is a lot to choose from on the map and, when you do choose the brews you want to try, you:
- Take the map to a brewery.
- Try a beer -- some breweries require you to purchase. (Of course, if you're not trying the beer, you may want to ask yourself, "What am I doing here?".
- Have the brewery stamp your map.
- Repeat nine more times.
In other words, when you get 10 stamps, you get a mini-32 ounce growler. (That's beer-speak for "smallish jug.")
What you really get with the Trail, though, is more than beer. You get to discover the area. You get to experience another aspect of the Spokane region that makes this place so cool. And you get to meet lots of great humans. Among the many nice things I learned while on the trail: beer people are good people. They are extremely excited -- as they should be -- about the Ale Trail, they are all very proud of their breweries -- as they should be—and they are obviously super pleased to share their world with the rest of us.
When I first did the Trail, I was with Kendall Jones, beer writer extraordinaire and master of his web site, Washingtonbeerblog.com. Over the course of two days, K-Man and I stopped at seven different breweries. We'd taste and he'd talk (read: geek out about all-things-beer) with the brewer. I learned a lot, I tasted a lot. And I want more.
DRAFT Magazine just published a huge beer map of the U.S., and they singled out Spokane as one of the growing, super-hot regions in the country. They know whereof they speak.
Yes, the Ale Trail is fantastic. And the beers are so good, and so varied, that I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest: get a designated driver! And get out there on the Trail!