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Priest River resident claims Brewmaster title

| March 7, 2024 1:00 AM

PRIEST RIVER — A local resident claimed top honors recently as the Newport Hospital and Health Services Foundation hosted its 2024 Iron Sommelier and Brewmaster Event.

The sold-out event held Feb. 24 at the Priest River Event Center raised over $43,000 for foundation programs and included 64 individual Healthy Kids Snack Bags annual sponsorships. 

Brandon Hawkins of Timber Town Beer Company in Priest River bested 2017 champion Cooper Balke of MickDuff’s Brewing Company in Sandpoint for the 2024 Brewmaster title. 

"Timber Town’s creative pairings of their craft brews with each course clinched the title," Jenny Smith, NHHS Foundation public information officer, said.

MickDuff's captured votes for its second-course offering of a Moroccan bisque, paired with the brewery's Idaho Amber; and its third-course offering of steak and a chimichurri taco paired with its LaCerveza Mexican light lager. However, Timber Town swept the pairings of the remaining courses: Course 1, Vietnamese noodle salad, paired with Timber Town’s Bullbuck golden ale; Course 4, dirty blackened chicken, South of the (Canadian) Border Mexican-style lager; Course 5, country beef and mash, Power Out Porter; and Course 6, key lime tart, Tangerine Hefeweizen.

Josh Midkirk of Hayden Beverage of Post Falls, upset the 2023 Iron Sommelier, Kelsey Ellis of Cru Selections in Woodinville, Wash., for the 2024 Iron Sommelier title. In a tight race, Hayden Beverage took the votes for four courses: Course 2, Moroccan bisque paired with La Garenne 2020 Vouvray; Course 3, steak and chimichurri taco, Smith & Hook, 2020 Proprietary Red Wine Blend; Course 5, country beef and mash, Neyers Vineyards 2019 Zinfandel Vista Luna; and Course 6, key lime tart, Jeio Prosecco Brut.

Guests voted on wine or microbrew flights paired with the six gourmet "small bite" courses prepared by executive chef Steven Swanson of Nectar Catering and Events in Spokane.

The evening’s live auction, presented by Jim Martin of 74 Main Public House, raised nearly $28,000 for Foundation programs, including over $11,000 in support of the Healthy Kids Snack Bag Program, which serves Newport, Priest River, Priest Lake, Oldtown and Cusick. Corporate sponsors included Kalispel Tribe of Indians and Kalispel Casino, The Club — Total Balance Fitness, Wellpoint, Coordinated Care, and Bonner General Health.

Spokane musician Kicho Forrest was back to provide dynamic acoustic and electric guitar with country and classic rock vocals. Forrest was accompanied on the drums by Bret Smith of Newport.

Crystal obelisk trophies were presented to the event winners. Chef Swanson and Jim and Kerri Martin of 74 Main Public House were also recognized for their dedication and support of the event, now in its ninth season. 

Seventeen students from Newport High School’s HOSA Future Healthcare Professions, Technology Student Association, and FBLA clubs served each of the six food courses, earning tips of $2,000 toward their clubs’ fundraising efforts. 

The Iron Sommelier and Brewmaster Event is an annual event and partnership with Jim and Kerri Martin, proprietors of 74 Main Public House of Priest River.     Newport Hospital and Health Services CEO Merry-Ann Keane, left, presents Josh Midkirk with the 2024 Iron Sommelier Award.