Mark Irvin

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I’m head brewer and partner [of No-Li Brewhouse in Spokane, Wash.] I started homebrewing in the late 80s as I was finishing up my BA in Business Administration at Eastern Washington University. My goal was always to start my own production-oriented business. I was watching the growing microbrewery movement and decided to get involved. My first brewery job was at the Coeur d’Alene Brewing Co. and then I moved to Hale’s Ales in Kirkland, Wash. I started Northern Lights Brewing Co. in 1993.

What’s new at No-Li?

Everything is new at the brewery. I brought on John Bryant as a partner in April 2012. Since then we renamed and re-branded the brewery. Our sales have gone from 1,400 bbls to 6,000 bbls in that time. We ordered two additional 60 bbl fermenters and a 60 bbl bright tank. A new 30 bbl brewhouse will allow us to produce 30 bbl batches of higher gravity brews.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

The common love of craft beer and the general good nature of most people in the industry make it an incredibly fun industry to make a living in.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

I love to spend time with my wife and two boys. The boys are active in school sports and it’s great watching them compete. I enjoy cycling, waterskiing, and snow skiing. I also love to play guitar and BBQ.

Name a favorite food and beer pairing.

Fresh oysters on the half shell paired with a hoppy pale ale or IPA. I garnish the oysters with a spicy cocktail sauce, Tabasco, cracked black pepper, and a drizzle of beer. I also love BBQ pork spare ribs paired with a well-balanced ESB or contrasting Pilsner.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to brewing?

Raising my two incredible boys with my wife.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

There are so many great beers that I can’t possibly name a favorite. A few of my favorites are Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Chuckanut Pilsner, Anchor Porter, Crux Fermentation Project Flanders Red, Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA, Paulaner Salvator, Deschutes Obsidian Stout, and Fremont Universal Pale Ale.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

John and I made a trip to New York for SAVOR in Manhattan. I was able to taste several of the local breweries’ beers. I found it interesting to compare the East Coast beers to the West Coast. Very well-made beers overall with a more malt-centered theme. Peekskill Brewing, Lake Placid Brewing, Brooklyn Brewing, and Olde Saratoga Brewing all had some very tasty brews. The event itself was incredible as well. Seeing the growth of the industry and the attention the media is giving us now is huge.

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