People aren’t too different from bears. As the shortest day of the year approaches, Dec. 21, they lean toward hibernation by filling their bellies and keeping warm. Area breweries know this and when winter rolls around they aim to soothe the beer drinker’s inner bear with darker, richer brews.“This time of year it’s chilly. You’re trying to get something that will warm you up a bit,” says Pete Broyles of Clarkston’s Riverport Brewing Co., where an old English ale-style Winter Beer tapped in late November features mulling spices and juniper berries.
Here’s a look at what’s on tap at Riverport and some other regional breweries where the only snarling you’ll hear are the taps filling growlers to take home to the cave.
Riverport Brewing Co., Clarkston
150 Ninth St., (509) 758-8889
A traditional English porter, this black blend with chocolate notes is named after Lewiston’s prominent citizen Lloyd Magruder, a packer murdered by members of Henry Plummer’s gang in the mountains of Idaho Territory in the 1860s.
B Run Red
Made especially for Lewiston’s Steelhead Derby, this beer is based on Riverport’s most popular beer, River Rat Red. It’s a little more hoppy with additional citrus notes, Broyles says.
This strong, dark beer is enlivened with mulling spices and made bitter by juniper berries, which also add notes of evergreen that suggests a taste of the holidays.
Paradise Creek Brewery, Pullman
245 S.E. Paradise St,, (509) 338-9463
This dark brown, bitter beer is blended with pumpkin pie spice and served from October to November.
A Belgium quadruple aged in oak barrels that once held tequila, this complex beer is big, bold and high octane, says brewmaster Tom Handy. “The 11½ percent alcohol will instantly put you in the holiday spirit.”
While the brewery always uses the name Stocking Stuffer for its winter beer, this is a new blend, he says.
Lupular Fall Out
A black Cascadian IPA, this beer is very dark, very hoppy and also makes you very happy, Handy says. With about 8 percent alcohol and a 103 IBU, “it will give you bitter beer face and then some.”
This beer is made by adding peppermint to their standard Postal Porter and is only served one time a year, at a free parking lot party and bonfire after Pullman’s tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 this year.
In the tradition of Germany’s Oktoberfest, this offering is a light amber beer with complex character derived from Munich, chocolate and carastan malt.
Created especially for souls who enjoy a strong cup of morning coffee after many hours on the river in the quest for a monster steelhead.
Made especially for the December month, a dark wheat ale with a combination of malt flavor and alcohol warmth.
Moscow Brewing Company, Moscow
630 N. Almon St., No. 130, (208) 874-7340
Local Engelmann spruce tree tips are added to a dark brown porter. The subtle piny-ness complements a chocolate/coffee character, according to the company’s website.
Cascadian Dark Ale
An ale with deeply-roasted malt flavors and citrusy notes from local Northwest hops.
Cedar Smoked IPA
Using Palouse-grown malt barley, this one-of-a-kind IPA features cedar-smoked malt balanced by a citrusy hop regimen.
In other regional brewery news …
Wolftrack Brewing Co., in Cottonwood, recently purchased the building housing its tasting room at 505 King St. Busy with moving, they don’t have any special seasonal brews, says owner John Candalot, but continue to serve their standards, which include Bushy Tail Ale IPA, Hunter’s Moon Brown Ale, Pirate X-Pale Ale and African Red, an ale shaded red by African rooibos tea. They can be contacted at (208) 507-1187.
Trestle Creek Brewing Company in Ferdinand plans to introduce its first beers in late January or early February, according to owners Mike and Kim Ingram. The pub and grill is at 413 Main St., (208) 962-7233.