A comprehensive beer tour of the Spokane area would take days to complete. Depending on where you draw the lines, there are now more than 20 breweries in and around Spokane. For this story, I’m going to talk about the downtown brewery scene, focusing primarily on a cool little brewery crawl that will take you to three breweries within a couple blocks of each other. Actually, it’s three taprooms but five breweries. Read on.
When I use the term downtown, I am talking about the historic district south of the river, north of I-90 and west of the Convention Center, where you’ll find The Bing Crosby Theater, the historic Davenport Hotel, the old Steam Plant (also a brewery/restaurant), and so on. In addition to the brewery crawl, I’ll talk about some other downtown breweries, as well as a couple others that are easily accessible from the downtown corridor. There are dozens of breweries in and around Spokane, so please visit our map of Eastern Washington Breweries for a complete listing.
The Downtown Brewery Crawl
Located on the west end of this foot tour, Iron Goat Brewing occupies a historic building that was originally an auto dealership, built back in the 1920s. It’s now on the Spokane Register of Historic Places. They’ve done a masterful job restoring the large, open space, which is filled with communal beer hall tables, some smaller bar-height pub tables, and plenty of bar seating. Rustic, yet modern.
Along with over 20 taps, they serve a food menu consisting of pizzas, sandwiches, house-smoked meats and more. The patio out back welcomes friendly dogs. Along with the regular lineup, the beer menu often features barrel-aged, mixed-culture and sour beers. Thursday night is trivia night, starting at 6:30. Live music on Friday and Saturday nights from 7:00 – 9:00. All ages welcome here but your dog is welcome on the patio only. (Iron Goat Brewing, 1302 W 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA)
From Iron Goat Brewing, head east on Second Avenue for two block and turn left on Madison Street. The Steel Barrel Taproom will be on your left. This is a lively taproom with lots of different beers on tap, but what really sets it apart, The Steel Barrel serves as the taproom for three breweries that share a brewing system at this location. It’s called the Spokane Brewery Incubator and Young Buck Brewing, Little Spokane Brewing, and TT’s Old Iron Brewing share time on the same system.
The Steel Barrel Taproom also serves food from what is referred to as a Ceviche Bar, which offers several different types of Ceviche, not to mention tacos on Tuesday (highly recommended). Zona Blanca Ceviche Bar, which operates independently at the back of the taproom, is the brainchild of Chef Chad White, whom you might recognize from TV’s Top Chef, but this story is about beer.
The house-brewed beers make up a significant portion of the menu, but they are not alone. The tap list also includes beers from other regional breweries, but you should focus on the beers made onsite because this is pretty much the only place you’ll get them. Beer, ceviche, shuffleboard, cocktails… It is a happenin’ place, but this is no place for children, it’s 21+. (Steel Barrel Taproom, Spokane Brewery Incubator, 154 S Madison St, Spokane, WA)
Leaving the Steel Barrel, head north on Madison Street for one long block, passing under the railroad tracks, and then turn right onto Railroad Alley. Continue one block east to arrive at the Whistle Punk Brewing taproom. The address is actually on Madison Street, but you’ll find the entrance around the corner in the historic Railroad Alley.
There’s a slick, speakeasy vibe here, perhaps because this taproom is essentially located in an alley and if you didn’t know it was there, you’d probably walk right past it; however, missing Whistle Punk Brewing would be a mistake because the beers and the atmosphere are excellent. Dark and basement-like, lit by Edison bulbs, with brick and stone walls, the renovated space feels both historic and modern.
This is a taproom only and the beers are brewed at a facility across town. They do not serve food, but you can bring it with you from local restaurants or order it from the place next door and they’ll deliver it to your table. If you just want a snack do not miss the homemade Chex mix, when available. Leave the kids at home because it’s 21+. (Whistle Punk Brewing, 122 S Monroe St, Spokane, WA)
Away From the Crawl
Here are some other breweries worth checking out when you’re hanging out in the downtown Spokane area.
Steam Plant Grill – A full-service restaurant and brewery located in the historic Steam Plant building (impossible to miss the old smoke stacks). A masterful repurposing of the old steam plant, with the restaurant and brewery built into the heart of the old industrial guts of the building. (Steam Plant Grill, 159 S Lincoln St, Spokane, WA)
Perry Street Brewing – Brewery and taproom in the South Perry neighborhood, just a short Lyft ride or bus ride (route 45) from downtown. In addition to great beer, this all-ages taproom serves up a basic menu of sandwiches, wraps, salads, tacos and snacks. (Perry Street Brewing,1025 S Perry St, Spokane, WA)
The Grain Shed – Brewery, taproom and bakery. A cooperative venture between a farmer, a malt producer, and a brewery/bakery. Great beers that really focus on local, less-common grains, which they use to make both the beer and the baked goods. It’s just around the corner from Perry Street Brewing, mentioned above. (The Grain Shed, 1026 E Newark Ave, Spokane, WA)
No-Li Brewhouse – Brewery with restaurant and beer garden on the banks of the Spokane River. Located just east of downtown, near Gonzaga University, you’re probably familiar with the beer, but they’ll likely have something on tap to surprise you. Best beer garden ever! A short Lyft ride or look for bus route 29. (No-Li Brewhouse, 1003 E Trent Ave #170, Spokane, WA)
Bellwether Brewing – Usually when I say, “The beers are “interesting,” it’s code for another, less-flattering word I don’t like to use. This place is different. They focus on modern interpretations of ancient and old-world beer styles. Not typically my jam, but I really dug the beers here. A bit removed from the heart of downtown, but I liked it enough to mention it here. A short Lyft ride from downtown or look for bus routes 24 or 25. (Bellwether Brewing, 2019 N Monroe St, Spokane, WA)
Admittedly, I have not visited the following:
Black Label Brewing – Located downtown, just a couple blocks from the Convention Center, this brewery focuses on small-batch beers brewed with local, organic, and in many cases homegrown ingredients. Beer-only taproom. (Black Label Brewing, 19 W Main Ave, Spokane, WA)
Mountain Lakes Brewing – Located on a highly visible downtown corner, this small-batch brewery operates a beer-only taproom, open Thursday thru Saturday. (Mountain Lakes Brewing, 201 W Riverside Ave, Spokane, WA)