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Northwest Flavors

Plenty of food and drink to sample all summer long!

By Colin Anderson

Most of us probably have a favorite local restaurant. It’s the one you can always count on for a solid meal, especially if the family can’t agree on what to eat. Many of us also prefer a certain style of wine, be it Cab or Rosé, or the particular hop combination used in the IPA produced at the brewery down the street. While there will always be brand loyalty, the near staggering amount of quality eateries and drinkeries around the region has provided eager customers with a wide range of food and beverages in which to challenge their ever-evolving taste buds. The competition challenges chefs, brewers, and bartenders to utilize their creativity to attract an audience that’s always looking for what’s new, different, or downright tasty.

One of the best ways to find these unique offerings is by attending one of the region’s outstanding tasting events. While 2020 wiped out these wonderful festivals last summer, many are back again in 2021, and ready for the sound of clinking glasses and audible yums over a backdrop of live music. Here you can sample small bites and full plates from some of the area’s best chefs. You can try a few sips from dozens of breweries and wineries without the headache of traveling to location after location. Yes, the tasting and celebration of Inland Northwest food and drink is back on, and we can’t wait to get back to all of our favorites!

Taste of Coeur d’Alene • July 30 - August 1 • Coeur d’Alene City Park •

Now in its 33rd year, organizers say this annual event attracts some 50,000 guests over the course of three days. They come for delicious food, a beer garden with emphasis on regional craft beers, and to spend a relaxing summer day in a beautiful setting. More than 20 food vendors will offer up a wide range of cuisine to sample. Regional musicians will provide the entertainment, and there are also arts and crafts vendors displaying their creative works. Proceeds from the event help the local Kiwanis and the community projects it supports.

Silver Mountain Brewsfest • August 14 • Silver Mountain, Kellogg •

Hop aboard the scenic Silver Mountain gondola, and when you reach the top of the mountain, an array of tasty regional brews will be waiting for you. Brewsfest offers great beer, food, and stunning views; a perfect way to spend a summer Saturday. Sample a few unique offerings while enjoying live music all afternoon. After the event closes up, the music continues on back in the Village throughout the evening hours.

Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival • September 24 & 25 • Avista Stadium, Spokane •

Quickly becoming one of the biggest beer festivals in the region, the home of the Spokane Indians will play host once again to some 40 brewers offering around 150 brews. Many bring specialty releases and new seasonal varieties you won’t find anywhere else. Your ticket in includes a 4-ounce commemorative glass as well as eight sample tokens. Additional tokens are available for purchase as well. There will be several food options available, live music, and Saturday is family friendly and will include plenty to keep the kiddos entertained. Non-drinkers get in for just $5 and get free water and soda as well.

Crave! • August 27 • Spokane Valley CenterPlace •

Crave! is back at Spokane Valley CenterPlace and will move from a multi-day event to a one-day celebration of the food and drink of the Northwest. Popular regional chefs will be on hand, each serving up delicious small plates and bites not found on their typical menus. These will be paired with tasters from local brewers, vintners and distillers. Crave! is focused on giving the top chefs in our area a platform to show off their creativity while using regional ingredients. Crave! also gives back to 2nd Harvest and its mission to fight hunger and feed hope throughout the Northwest. Tickets include all your food and drink samples, and are available to purchase in advance.

Northwest Wine Festival • July 17 & 18 • Schweitzer Mountain, Sandpoint •

Not much beats a warm sunny day at the top of the most iconic mountain in North Idaho. Show up for Northwest Wine Festival, and you’ll be able to take in the tranquility while sipping on some of the best wines of the Northwest. You’ll find crisp whites, dark earthy reds, and just about everything in between. The focus is on Washington, Oregon and Idaho winemakers, and you might just discover your next favorite vintner. For those wanting to attend both days, overnight on-mountain lodging is available.

Fall Fest • September 3 - 6 • Schweitzer Mountain, Sandpoint •

At the time of this writing, Schweitzer was still working through event details, but is again planning on holding one of its favorite yearly festivals over Labor Day weekend. Typically around 100 regional breweries, wineries and cideries are represented at the tasting booths. There is live music all weekend long, and the event is free to attend. There is plenty of entertainment for the kids as well as to-go and sit-down dining. Check the website for the latest information and live entertainment schedule.

Brewfest • July 10 • Downtown Coeur d’Alene •

While details of the event were still emerging at the time of this article going to print, the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association did confirm that its Brewfest celebration will be happening on July 10 at McEuen Park. Typically there are more than two dozen local and regional brews in which to sample, as well as food options and several live music performances throughout the event. For further details and ticket information, visit the website listed above.

Ales for the Trails • September 11 • Coeur d’Alene •

The annual beer tasting festival benefiting the North Idaho Centennial Trail Foundation has been confirmed for the 11th of September. Organizers are still working out details but say they are planning on an event similar to years past. See the organization’s website or social feeds for the latest details.

Other wonderful events are sure to pop up throughout the remainder of summer and fall. Check our monthly calendar of events and follow our social media channels for all the latest. Enjoy the wonderful flavors of the Northwest during the best time of the year!

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