Take out a map of Spokane—a real, physical map. Put an X over every brewery in the Spokane city limits. Now, connect those dots. What do you see? It depends on how you connect the dots, and it’s open to some personal interpretation. But if you do it just right, I swear you can spell the words RUN TO EVERY BREWERY IN SPOKANE.
Like a sailor of yore gazing at the Big Dipper from the bow of his ship, I perceived this connect-the-dots message as an omen—more than an omen: an imperative. It had to be done.
I began texting potential accomplices. Responses ranged from “that’s a lot of miles” to “that’s a lot of beer.” It took some cajoling, but a few relented. Before long, I had assembled a dream team of the most athletic beer drinkers east of the Cascades. The Spokane Beer Chase was officially on.
Now, a quick caveat. Our collective Venn diagram of personal schedules necessitated a Sunday date for the event, which meant that several breweries were closed. Steam Plant Brew Pub was closed too, due to ongoing renovations. Square Wheel Brewing, while technically in the city limits, was ridiculously far away. That left 10 breweries, which was at least manageable from the standpoint of a human liver.
We mustered that fateful Sunday at Waddell’s in north Spokane. We were under a social media blackout, since one of our posse was supposed to be spending the day with his in-laws. He didn’t want his excuse of a “really important race” to get blown up by photos on Facebook. After enjoying a satisfying round, our group of half a dozen runners and bikers began the 3-mile journey south to Bellwether Brewing. Upon arriving, we quaffed beer number two, and were off to Iron Goat.
Our mood was jubilant as we crossed the Monroe Street Bridge. The foaming waters of the Spokane River rushed beneath our feet, and the sun was shining brightly above us. Nothing could stop us.
Nothing, except perhaps lethargy. Our schedule necessitated that each stop should last less than 20 minutes. It was easy at first, but gradually became more difficult. From Iron Goat, we ran to the Steel Barrel, a taproom that hosts a trio of start-up breweries (Little Spokane, Young Buck, and TT’s). And from there, it was on to River City.
By that point, we were all feeling a bit low. The dense concentration of downtown breweries kept the beer-to-running ratio relatively high. We had stopped drinking full pints at each stop, opting instead for half-pints and 4-ounce tasters whenever possible. But despite our best efforts, we were all starting to feel like we didn’t want to run anymore.
Any racer knows the feeling. Some call it “bonking” while others call it “hitting the wall.” My crew was fading, and they needed a pep talk.
“Great deeds,” I announced, “are never accomplished by simply sitting in a room and drinking beer. They are accomplished by sitting in a lot of different rooms and drinking a lot of different beers.”
I think the message resonated. We left River City with renewed energy. Soon we had checked Black Label (brewery number eight) and No-Li (number nine) off our list. One of our crew got tired and called her boyfriend to pick her up, but the rest of us remained resolute.
Perry Street was our last remaining contender. To reach it, we’d have to run up the South Hill. Darkness had settled over the city. We ran under the I-90 overpass, and a stranger asked us for cigarettes. We declined his request. On the way up the hill, one of our crew stumbled and took a fall, badly scraping his knee. No matter—at this point, nothing could keep us from our goal.
With a sense of triumph, we entered Perry Street and ordered our last pint of the day. My buddy’s knee was pretty bloody, but the injury did little to temper our enthusiasm. We had done it, successfully linking each star in the Spokane brewery constellation. We had seen new neighborhoods, drank new beers, and forged new bonds. Now I’m looking at a map of Seattle. That one might be a bit tougher. P