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Friday, April 26, 2013

Spokane-Style Beer?

This topic is now bubbling up (see here, here, and here), and it's one I'd like to address more fully.  I throw it out there mainly to fire up the rage engine:
No-Li Brewhouse has been crafting beer in the Northwest since 1993. Their branding pays homage to their love of Spokane and the region. Now, No-Li has put Spokane on the map as a major force in the world of craft brews. Earlier this week No-Li announced that they have gotten federal approval for a new style of craft beer. Spokane-Style.

What makes a beer Spokane-Style? Well, first off it must be brewed and packaged in Spokane. But the origin of the beer goes beyond that. To be classified as Spokane-Style all the ingredients must come from within 300 miles of the city.
For the moment, I'll leave you with these questions: How does the federal use of the word "style" change its meaning?  Is 300 miles the right radius for a local style beer?  Why not 100?  500?  Is this a good precedent?  Will designations like "Spokane style" be a boon or curse to consumers? 


  1. I checked the links you gave. I can't say I've read all of it with ultimate attention, but it seems to me that there's no mention about brewing processes. Can, say, a Pils, a Heffeweizen or an Imperial Stout, be of Spokane style as long as they are made using 100% local ingredients, etc.? If so, this is closer to a wine D.O.C. than a beer style proper. (BTW, does all this say anything about allowing water to be chemically treated? And what about the yeasts?)....

    To many questions for something that is clearly a marketing stunt.

  2. You see? You see what this CDA nonsense has wrought?

  3. It looks like 300 miles includes Seattle, Vancouver BC and most of Portland Metro, by the way.

  4. Anon, damned Google maps doesn't give me crow-flying distance, but it's 252 miles via a relatively straight road. I'd say we're outside the catchment area. HOWEVER, Hood River is very much in that zone. Which raises the question: if Double Mountain proposes to sell Hood River Style Ale (perhaps with the requirement that the beer be made with local fruit), would the feds say: nyet, what you're making is actually Spokane Ale.

    Ted, you are absolutely poised to lock down Oakridge-Style Beer.

  5. Sorry, that's 352 miles Spokane to PDX.

  6. Nonsense, but give them credit for creative thinking.