As history tells us, it was the Egyptians who first developed beer. It was not men, but Egyptian women, who were crafting the beer.
And for that, we thank these ladies.
Fast forward to 2017 and we now find the beer industry heavily dominated by men. Although there are still women brewers out there, according to a 2014 study by Stanford University, of 1700 polled breweries, only 4% had female head brewers.
Not a great showing ladies.
Prior to my visit to Badass Backyard Brewing, I had done a little snooping around, as I usually do on any brewery I visit. I mostly dig for how they came to be, who their head brewer is and what types of beers they offer. In my digging, I found that the brewery was led by a female head brewer, Charlene Honcik, but what I found more fascinating was that their entire operation was staffed with all women.
Now we have a great showing ladies.
When I arrived at the Millwood Spokane Valley location, I approached the front door and noticed a chalk arrow pointing towards the door that said “beer”. Although the hot pink logo above the door was sign enough that beer would be inside, the chalk arrow reassured me that my beloved would be found inside.
And when I say beloved, I mean beer.
I found myself a spot at the bar and took a quick look around the small tap room. At a nearby table, I noticed a four legged friend, confirming that the tap room was dog-friendly, which is always a bonus. I did not have my dogs with me that day, but knowing dogs are welcome would be filed away in my memory for future visits.
I reviewed the beer menu and went with my standby, a tasting flight, ordering up a flight of 5. My first beer was the No Alibi Coconut Brown. This 5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and 23 International Bittering Unit (IBU) is not my typical style. Browns are usually too low on the IBU scale for me, but I am going to be honest with you… I think about this beer often. Like anytime I drive through Spokane I think of reasons I could stop at the brewery for this beer. It is odd because I never really have a reaction to beer like this, but the mixture of the roasted notes pairing up with the coconut won me over. This beer is similar to Death By Coconut by Oskar Blues, which both are delectable treats.
My next beer taste was the Snow Melt Chili Stout with a 6% ABV and a 40 IBU. This oatmeal stout rolled in, like a badass, with some spice and left a nice after burn, reminding you that although you may be drinking a dark and hearty beer, like a card shark, this beer doesn’t reveal all its cards until the end.
Up next was the Ego Flats Amarillo Pale Ale, a single hop beer with a 5.7% ABV and a 35 IBU. This beer has a lower IBU, but don’t let that throw you as the Amarillo hop shows up to the party with a flavorful citrus bite.
As I sat enjoying my beers, I chatted with the beertender, who happened to be the head brewer’s mom and was a wealth of information about the brewery. She gave me insight on the brewery’s unique name, telling the story of how her daughter started brewing beer with a home brewing kit left at her house by a friend. Honcik agreed to house the home brewing equipment for her friend as long as she was allowed to tinker with it. Her friend obliged and Honcik began to teach herself the ins and outs of brewing that would ensue from hobby to profession.
Prior to opening the official brewery, Honcik would offer beer tastings in her backyard, which is how backyard incorporated itself into the brewery’s name. With a demand for her beer and a little bit of research and paperwork, the brewery’s doors opened in 2015 in the Millwood location. They are in the process of opening a taproom in Coeur D’ Alene Idaho. With two locations, this nano brewery may see a need for expansion in the near future.
Inspired by this brewer’s path, I moved on to The Adrenaline Skeeker IPA, one of their flagship beers with a 7.5% ABV and a 68 IBU. Fresh hops are used for this beer giving flavors of citrus and fruit with a malty backbone. This beer is smooth with a light, yet well balanced, hop profile.
I took my last taste of the day with the Unbreakable Sour Ale with a 7.8% ABV and a 32 IBU. The beer is a collaboration between Badass Backyard and another Spokane local brewery, NoLi. Guava and blueberry flavors run wild in this beer, giving you just the right amount of sour and sweetness. It is a delightful collaboration of both flavors and breweries.
As I could not get the No Alibi Coconut Brown out of my head I returned a few months later to feed my habit. Upon my return I found the taproom packed as a result of their Wednesday Night Trivia that was in full swing. I grabbed the last bar stool and flagged down the beertender.
During my last visit to the brewery, I had learned that the entire brewery was powered by women: brewers, tap room attendants, all women. But there was chatter about a possible change on the horizon. A male candidate had applied to work at Backyard Badass Brewing. And now with my second visit there Ben the beertender stood before me, waiting to take my beer order. Ironically Ben’s time at the brewery was short as I learned during my second visit it was his last week. He had accepted a job with another local brewery as a cellar.
With no time to waste, I ordered up the Coconut Brown and after taking one sip I was back in my love trance. It was at this point my cell phone decided to take a nap for the night. Its battery juice was depleted and nothing irritates me more when I am at a brewery and can’t check in my beers on Untappd. I tossed my phone in my purse and sat in the taproom like a creeper with nothing else to do but stare off into space.
After savoring every last drop of my beer I decided to order a flight of beer. The menu had changed up slightly since my last visit and there were a few beers that piqued my interest. I filled out a card, listing the beers I wanted to try and handed it back to Ben. He quickly reviewed the list and offered up his stamp of approval for my wide breadth of choices. I refrained from telling him this girl had been around the keg before!
My flight arrived on a sweet ass tiny skateboard that made me hate my phone’s battery even more as I could not snap a photo. Trust me, you would have loved it. I grabbed my first beer the Whitewater Snow IPA. This beer had a 6% ABV and a 68 IBU using the Mt Hood and Chinook hops leaving you with a piney and floral flavor that sold you on this solid IPA.
The next taste was the Daring Diva Raspberry Wheat beer, which I had noticed was ordered frequently by the other patrons in the taproom. And with good reason. This wheat beer has a nice tartness from the raspberry igniting your memories of a great fruity beer. This beer pours out muddy in clarity, staying true to a wheat style, but dresses itself up with a pretty red berry color.
Typically when I am at a brewery I keep my tasting notes on my phone. No one ever notices because it looks like I am texting someone. Since my phone was out of commission I decided to keep my beer notes on the tasting flight card that I had. As I was scribbling away I heard “are you keeping notes?”
My geeky behavior had been exposed and I blushed with shame, admitting that I did keep notes on the beer I drink. I also needed the notes to remember for when I checked in my beers on Untappd once my phone recharged. I offered up an awkward smile and a shoulder shrug saying: “I’m a beer nerd”. Luckily the beer industry is accepting of their nerds and I carried on with my obsessive note taking.
I moved on to the Terrain Red IPA with a 6.4% ABV and a 64 IBU. The Terrian Red pours out a deep rich red color with a mild maltiness, ending with a nice bite thanks to its IPA ways.
I saved the two big beers until the last, starting first with the Converted Skier Barleywine. I expected this beer to be bold and it was. With my first sip, it took my breath away. And I don’t mean that facetiously. I was quite literally taken back with this hefty beer that had been aged in a bourbon barrel.
Barley wines always roll in hot with over the top ABVs ranging from 8% to 16%. This one chimes in with a 10.2%. IBUs can range greatly between 35 to 120 and the Converted Skier stakes its claim with a 101 IBU. This beer is not one for the casual beer drinker. Especially if you are drinking a full glass. It is a monster of malty goodness with tasting notes that say it’s strong enough to convert any skier to a snowboarder. The beer is good, but I think I’ll stick to my two sticks.
My last taste was the Big Air Black Stout with an 8% ABV and a 53 IBU. This beer was interesting to me as stouts usually tend to be heavy. After my first sip, I noticed this beer was light and smooth with a great amount of roasted maltiness. It was a refreshing change from your typical stouts that can fill you up and weigh you down. I am a big fan of this beer. Maybe not as big as the Coconut Brown, but this one is definitely in the top two of Backyard’s current offering in my opinion.
I finished off my last taste, pushed the skateboard tasting flight away and mused over my beers while I waited for my check, thinking about my next return for the Coconut Brown.
Badass Backyard Brewing in Millwood Washington (Spokane Valley) is located at 1415 N Argonne Road. Their Coeur D’ Alene location is at 317 E Coeur D’ Alene Ave STE C and is on schedule to open September 9th, 2017.