Man, has this been the summer of craft beer awesomeness in Boise or what? There is so much going on these days, from tap takeovers and new breweries opening to beer fests and the great 10-Barrel debacle (insert incompetent government joke here) that Im going to use this column to update as much news as possible.
Two breweries are set to open by November: Slanted Rock Brewing, 2374 E. Cinema Drive, in Meridian across from the High Desert Harley-Davidson, and Kilted Dragon Brewing in a strip mall at 9115 W. Chinden Blvd. west of Glenwood Street in Garden City.
Like Payette and Crooked Fence before them, Slanted Rock and Kilted Dragon will have tap rooms and focus their efforts on on-premise sales, pints and growler fills, and selling kegs to outside accounts. Heres whats going on:
Slanted Rock Brewing: I stopped by the brewery the other day and its a nice space open, airy and unpretentious, like a good tap room should be. The bar is built, the coolers installed and the plumbing is finished. The 15-barrel brewing system arrived earlier this week, and the fermenting tanks are set to arrive next week. The owners finally got their federal licensing approved and have jumped through almost all the state and local licensing hoops.
All that is left to do is crank up those brew kettles, brew some beer, and fine-tune the recipes with the new equipment, co-owner Alesa Lonseth said.
Slanted Rock will start with four staple beers a dark ale, a kolsh, an IPA, and a red ale. Expect synergy with the Harle-Davidson store across the parking lot. The brewery is a little bit off the beaten path, but there is nothing else like it in Meridian, so I suspect they will do well.
Kilted Dragon Brewing: Across town in Garden City, the newest addition to Chinden Boulevard brewing alley is not quite as far along as Slanted Rock.
The good news is Kilted Dragon co-owner and brewmaster Cory Matteucci already has his 3-barrel brewing system in storage, so he can start making beer when the building is ready. He is working hard to get his brewery in shape. The bar and cooler areas are still under construction and there is lots of painting and finishing work to do, but plumbing and electrical are ready to roll.
What is frustrating Matteucci is how long it is taking him to get his federal licensing. There are so many breweries under construction in the U.S. (about 1,300 at last check) that the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulators are having a hard time keeping up.
Matteucci hopes to have the tap room done, equipment installed, licensing headaches over, and beer brewing by late November.
Kilted Dragon is going to be a smaller space than Slanted Rock. The tap room and bar only hold several dozen people, and the three-barrel nano system will be the smallest professional brewhouse in town.
His plan is to order two more fermenting tanks so he can brew enough beer to keep eight taps going when the brewery opens later this fall.
Crooked Fence: By now, you have probably noticed a consistent supply of 22-ounce bottles of Crooked Fence at the good beer stores in town. They are all bottled by hand, homebrewer style. This is very labor intensive but worth it (so far) for Crooked Fence, which is filling a niche in the double-deuce local retail market. (Double-deuce referring to 22-ounce bottles not the bar from Roadhouse, which probably had exclusive deals with Coors Light, Keystone and Clorox wipes).
While the 3 Picket Porter is their staple beer, consumers also seem to be enjoying the brewerys decision to put their Derby Oatmeal IPA in a bottle.
Crooked Fence has a four-head bottling line ordered, so that drudge work will soon go away. That also means a more consistent supply of 22-ounce bottles for mainstream stores like Fred Meyer, Albertsons and Winco, which are all interested in selling local beers.
Crooked Fence hasnt even been open for a year and the company has already expanded its capacity twice. The brewery has three more fermenting tanks coming in this week and will be able to produce about 300 kegs a month by the end of 2012.
Sockeye Brewing: The new 20-barrel brewing facility on Fairview Avenue in West Boise is finally up and running, now that all the local, state, and federal approval stuff is complete. Not surprisingly, the first batch brewed on the new system was Dagger Falls IPA. Sockeye has a canning line on order, so you may be able to drink a Dagger in a can at home by the end of the year. Sweet!
The restaurant portion of the new brew pub facility is on track to open in early 2013.
Since Idaho is one of the only places where hops are grown in the U.S., many of our local brewers have brewed fresh hop ales this fall. Payette Brewing has two kinds on tap at the Garden City taphouse the So Fresh, So Clean (featuring centennial hops) and Wet and Wilder ales (featuring chinook hops).
The crew at Crooked Fence grew (most) of their own hops for their fresh hopped harvest beer, the Samurai Imperial IPA, which is on tap at their Garden City taproom.
The Ram has a fresh hop ale in the tanks which will be ready soon but is going one step further on the Harvest theme this fall, creating an all-Idaho pumpkin beer. This is an awesome idea to celebrate Idahos agricultural heritage. The Jake OLantern ale will have roasted pumpkins from Wagner Farms in Meridian, hops from Canyon County, barley from eastern Idaho, and good old-fashioned Boise water. A very inspired idea.
You may recall reading about Bogus Brewing, which met their Kickstarter funding goal of $30,000 in July. Owner Collin Rudeen is still looking for a building to lease for the brewery and doesnt have his equipment or government approval yet, so dont expect anything from that operation until January 2013 at the earliest.
Cloud 9, another Boise-based nano brewery startup, is trying to raise $30,000 on Kickstarter. They want to open a 4-barrel operation in Downtown Boise with an emphasis on local ingredients. (Go to www.cloud9brewery.com/kick for more info if you are interested in contributing.)
Patrick Orr: 377-6219, Twitter: @IDS_Beer
Patrick Orrs beer column runs the first Friday of the month.