Yep, another brewery: One man’s beery vision for Boise

zkyle@idahostatesman.comSeptember 10, 2013 

If the hubbub over 10 Barrel and other brewpubs that opened recently in the Treasure Valley is any indication, expect to hear plenty of chatter about Edge Brewing Co.

A crew is gutting the building that will be home to the brewpub at 525 N. Steelhead Way, just off West Emerald Street. Marcus Bezuhly, the president, says he expects to begin renovations to convert the office space into a restaurant and brewery soon and for Edge Brewing to be open to customers in March or April. Bezuhly and the investors expect to spend about $2 million to open the brewpub, including the $813,000 the group spent to buy the building.

The brewpub will have between 25 and 30 employees, about 2,500 square feet of seating and a capacity of 81. TableRock Brewpub and Grill head brewer Kerry Caldwell has signed on to take over as head brewer of Edge Brewing, and Bezuhly says a yet-to-be-named executive chef from a Treasure Valley restaurant has agreed to head the Edge kitchen.

Bezuhly has big ideas about the food, the atmosphere and the business model, but he’s giddy about the beer that will pour from Edge’s 18 taps. A home brewer for 16 years and owner of the brewing supply store Homebrewstuff in Garden City, Bezuhly says he is a beer enthusiast first and a businessman second. Many of his 20 financial backers are members of home brew clubs or certified beer judges. Bezuhly says he and his backers believe good beer will lead to commercial success.

Bezuhly spoke with Business Insider about his vision for Edge Brewing and about the Treasure Valley’s growing craft beer scene.

Q: What will the atmosphere be like?

A: It won’t necessarily be a sports bar, but we’ll make sure to have games on when Boise State or NFL games are on. I see it as a place where people can go out on dates, or pairs of couples can come in and have a few drinks. I think we’ll have a good lunch crowd. We want to keep it casual. The “Cheers” song is playing in my head right now. “Where everybody knows your name...”

Q: What do you want Edge Brewing Co. to be known for?

A: A tremendous amount of variety. With so many shareholders being experienced brewers, we will have a pilot system — 20 gallons at a time. We intend to let our owners come in and brew their own unusual concoctions, whether it’s some coconut pineapple beer or a Munich Dunkle or whatever they feel like brewing. The experimental beers will rotate on 12 or 13 taps and will only be available in the restaurant.

Q: What will be the brewing setup?

A: We will have a 15-barrel brewhouse, which allows us to brew 450 gallons at a time. Our four or five standards will be stored in 250-gallon serving tanks on the other side of the bar in the warehouse area. [The scale of production] allows us to brew enough beer to sell kegs to other local bars or pubs and still be able to produce enough for our own restaurant.

Q: Do you have plans to distribute?

A: We will be canning as soon as we get everything off the ground. We’re still in negotiations with distributors. Hopefully, we’ll be as available as Payette or Crooked Fence or Sockeye beer. Canning allows you to get out there and be in a lot more stores and gas stations and not just in specialty shops.

Q: What was your thinking in selecting your location?

A: We’re about 2.7 miles away from Sockeye, but there’s really nothing up here where we are by the [Boise Towne Square] mall. That’s one reason we liked this location — we’re just enough off beaten path that the building was more affordable than retail space.

Q: Will Edge have a signature beer?

A: Any brewery that comes out and says “This is our flagship beer” isn’t really listening to the customers. The customers will buy the beer they want to buy. New Belgium didn’t start out thinking Fat Tire would be their flagship beer. It just sort of happened over time. The last thing I want to do is tell the customer which beer they are going to like. Who knows? We could make a pineapple IPA that everybody is crazy about. We could accidentally stumble on a home run. If that happens, then we’ll put it into regular production.

Q: What else can we expect from Edge?

A: We’ll definitely have an IPA. We intend to call it “Obligatory IPA” because we’re in the Northwest, so we have to do an IPA. Personally, I like big, strong beers. We intend to do barley wines, double IPAs and a lot of really cool stuff. I feel that most breweries that focus on production don’t have the freedom to make a bunch of different stuff. That’s one reason we wanted to have a restaurant. We will gain a following that comes in for the sole reason of seeing what is new and cool and different.

Q: You say you and all 20 owners are contributing ideas and recipes. Could that much input be problematic?

A: Ultimately, the decisions (on the large batches) will be made by the head brewer. We cherish the input from everybody, but at the same time, we want to avoid the too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen thing because that can create chaos. That’s one reason we’re leaving 12 or 13 taps open for all our contributors to be able to come in and do their own thing. If they think they have a home run, they can come in, brew it, put it on tap. If it sells out, the customers will prove them right.

Q: It seems like another brewpub opens in the Treasure Valley every month. Are we nearing the saturation point for craft beer?

A: We’re probably about halfway there. When we crunched the numbers, we found there’s about 100,000 people who live in three-mile radius of this building, and we are the only craft brewery in that radius. That’s good. If you start considering there’s 650,000 in the Valley, I think we’re a long way from saturation.

Q: Still, it’s a crowded field that’s getting more crowded. Does the business competition get personal?

A: Not at all. That’s the cool thing about this business — there’s not a lot of cutthroat competition. If somebody’s chiller goes down, somebody will be right there to help out. There’s a lot of camaraderie. There will be many, many, many times to sit down and drink all night with the guys from Slanted Rock, Payette or Crooked Fence. It’s not a dog-eat-dog, screw-your-neighbor-to-get-ahead thing. It’s just not like that.

Zach Kyle: 377-6464, @IDS_zachkyle

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