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Going Inland 

Breweries in Spokane worth exploring

For even more tasty craft brews, beer fans can head east.

For even more tasty craft brews, beer fans can head east.

When it comes to craft beer in the less-populated parts of Eastern Oregon, there isn't much. Steens Mountain in Burns is one, a tiny outfit that received a glowing profile in BeerAdvocate magazine a few months ago. Beer Valley in Ontario, whose Leafer Madness IPA is a mainstay around Bend, is another. Otherwise, one might as well be up in the northern Yukon.

Such is not the case with our neighbors to the north—primarily due to the presence of Spokane, a city that's often unfairly forgotten during conversations about Washington, despite being its second-largest city.

If beer fans know about Spokane's presence in the scene, it's almost entirely due to No-Li Brewhouse, located in a shopping mall on Spokane's east side. It remains the largest craft brewery in the region, and drinkers familiar with names like Born & Raised IPA and Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout (both regulars on the Bend scene) will be glad to know they're just as good at their HQ, especially when paired with a reuben or some baked mac 'n cheese.

But if one is driving all the way to Eastern Washington, why not try a few of the other locals? Top among them is undoubtedly Iron Goat, one of several breweries and beer-themed bars that have set up shop around downtown Spokane over the past few years. They're in a dark and stark warehouse that evokes flashbacks to 10 Barrel's Portland location, but their approach to beer and pizza is far more freestyle—"craft beer brewed with precisionishness," as they put it. Nothing is too heavy at Iron Goat, which is good, because the 5.6 percent Goatmeal Stout and its sweetly dry finish is worth savoring a second time.

Orlison is also worth mentioning, considering they used to distribute all over Bend (they downsized distribution last year to focus on the home market). Formerly in the dusty suburb of Airway Heights, the lager-centric brewery has a neat little dog-friendly tasting room downtown nowadays. It's a good place to banter with locals and try out a few of their new forays into the ale side of things—the cranberry wheat ale, for example, which totally tastes the part. Also check out the nearby The Steel Barrel, which offers pints from across the Washington/Idaho area and also serves as an incubator site for new breweries in the region.

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