More than just ingredients
Great beer doesn’t just happen, it takes hard work and dedication. At the family-owned and fully independent No-Li Brewhouse in Spokane, owner, John Bryant, focuses on quality and community to create beer that’s a step ahead.
“No-Li is basically a community brand,” Bryant told our host, Kristi Gorenson. “And we have people who live and work in Spokane and Seattle that all drive this machine everyday. And I hope in the DNA of our culture is that we’re a fabric of this community.”
Not only does the community love No-Li beer, the world does as well. Their IPA “Born and Raised” won at the International Beer Cup, and they have won 66 international medals since 2012. “It’s really awesome that it came from Spokane, came from the state of Washington, from people that all live here and work here. We truly are Washington Grown.”
A couple of years ago, we got a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make great beer happen. “You got pipes, and you got hoses, and you got passionate people moving things around,” said Bryant. They use 30-barrel tanks, which is the equivalent of 60 kegs of beer. The process begins with the wort, which is the genesis of beer. It is where they separate out the spent grains. Liquid then goes over the wort, and it is cooked. They add hops at a certain time during the boil, which adds different flavors. After a stop at a heat exchanger, it’s cool enough to put into a fermenter. Then yeast is added, and the magic begins!
“Everything we use is from the region. The hops are from the Yakima Valley, the water is from the beautiful Rathdrum aquifer, and the barley malt is all from this region,” explained Bryant. “One thing that makes the beers in the Northwest and Spokane have a leg up is that the water that we have is amazing. And then the malts that we have in our backyard and the hops in our backyard. We keep vibrant and healthy yeast strains that we try to use actively and then get a fresh one so the beer is always really working hard for you.”
After sanitization, the cans are hit with a shot of carbon dioxide to keep the air out. “Air is the enemy of really fresh beer,” explained Bryant. The cans are filled with the beer, and after lids are attached, they head to the shipping department and cooler. “Within two hours, they are picked up and taken to our distributor and to a grocery store.”
In 2012, about 98% of all the beer in Spokane was made in some other city in some other state. Now, more than a quarter of the beer is locally made, and Spokane recently ranked No. 1 as the best city in the U.S. for beer lovers according to Lawn Love. There are 31 breweries in Spokane, and next time you are searching for the best in hops and beer, be sure to visit this beer-lovers city.