A decades-old Idaho law has been the main barrier between an Oregon craft brewer and a new Treasure Valley pub.
Now the owner of 10 Barrel Brewing Co. says hes worked out a legal and agreeable if convoluted path through the system. If it works as planned, 10 Barrel could open by April.
Garrett Wales said he is planning to surrender 10 Barrels certificate of approval, which is a license to bring beer into Idaho from out of state. Heres why: Idaho law wont allow any company that holds a certificate of approval to sell alcohol at a bar, brewpub or other retail establishment. Wales said he didnt learn of that restriction until after signing a lease a year ago to rent a building owned by the Idaho Department of Lands at 830 Bannock St. Since then, hes been working to find a solution.
Under 10 Barrels plan, the company will surrender its certificate and acquire a license that allows it to sell beer at the Downtown location.
In addition to beer brewed on site, the Bend company will sell beer from its Oregon brewery to a distributor. That distributor will export 10 Barrels beer to Idaho and sell it to a local distributor, which then will sell the beer back to 10 Barrel.
Is it perfect for us? No, its not perfect for us, but it allows us to open up in Boise and join the craft beer industry there, Wales said.
Once 10 Barrel is in Boise, Wales said, hell look to join a coalition of small brewpub operations and lobby to change Idahos alcohol laws.
He wouldnt be the first.
For years, Idaho lawmakers and others have sought to align the letter of the states liquor laws with the spirit behind them. Theyve had mixed results.
Some changes have been made to accommodate small brewpubs, but a task force appointed by Gov. Butch Otter to formulate a broader overhaul of laws regulating liquor sales, manufacturing and distribution disbanded in 2008 without spurring any changes.
John Rusche, a Democratic state representative from Lewiston, served on that task force. He said he might be open to altering some state liquor laws, but hed have to see detailed proposals before offering full support.
The companys work on the Sherm Perry Building is scheduled to wrap up by April, Idaho Department of Lands spokeswoman Emily Callihan said.
The state will split the first $650,000 of improvements with 10 Barrel, she said. Idahos contribution will cover improvements that would be necessary no matter what kind of tenant ended up renting the building, she said.
Any further construction will come out of 10 Barrels pocket.
Wales said he hopes to surrender 10 Barrels certificate of approval and obtain a license to sell alcohol at retail in March.
Sven Berg: 377-6275