Woodland Empire brewing opens tasting room in Boise

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comJanuary 17, 2014 

Customers enjoy beer Tuesday afternoon during Woodland Empire Ale Craft’s opening day.

JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

A few years ago, brewers Rob and Keely Landerman were working on test batches at home in Austin, Texas, while listening to Built To Spill.

The Boise rock band’s song “In the Morning” played, and the husband and wife were inspired to create a beer of the same name.

A dark, English-style mild ale made with Post Falls-based Doma Coffee, In the Morning is one of four flagship beers that the Landermans hope will make their Woodland Empire Ale Craft welcomed warmly in Idaho.

Rob, 32, the brewery’s president, and Keely, 35, head brewer, opened the tasting room Tuesday at 1114 W. Front St., officially launching the Treasure Valley’s newest craft-beer player. For Rob, who grew up in Idaho, it feels like a fresh start in a familiar place.

“I lived in Southeast Idaho through seventh grade, then we moved to Texas for my dad’s job,” Landerman says, “and I’ve kind of missed it since.”

Things have changed since then — especially Boise’s beer scene, which is more crowded by the day. But Woodland Empire, a 15-barrel brewery, seems prepared for the road ahead.

The building is about 9,000 square feet, with around 2,000 of that relegated to the tasting room.

The occupancy is 72. There are no TVs. Couches, Wi-Fi and plenty of electrical outlets make it somewhat more like a coffee shop than a typical pub. The minimalist decor might suggest Portland to a few Boiseans.

“A pretty chill vibe is what we’re going for,” Landerman says. “There’s good music, but it’s at a volume so you can talk.”

Either way, atmosphere is secondary to brew, right? Here are the nuts and bolts on the year-round beers:

• In the Morning, 3.4 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), 15 on the International Bitterness Units scale (IBU): Who says beer isn’t for breakfast? “I like the mild a lot; I think this market is ready for a beer like that,” Landerman says. “It’s crazy flavorful. It’s got tons of aroma, tons of flavor, but it’s only 3.4 percent, so you can just drink the hell out if without getting wasted, without getting full.”

• City of Trees, 6.2 ABV, 70 IBU: Being in the Northwest, Landerman knows that Woodland Empire often will be judged by its IPA. “Ours is less sweet than most,” he says. “It’s still got a touch of malt, but it’s got a ton of hop aroma. That’s a big thing ... a lot of hop flavor, and the bitterness is present but really smooth.”

• Rabbit Fighter, 5.3 ABV, 35 IBU: An ESB that Woodland Empire calls “Extremely Special Bitter,” this beer is brewed with two grains and a single hop variety. “We were looking to simplify the recipe and get a cleaner, smoother flavor,” he says.

• Gold Days, 9 ABV, 27 IBU. Normal Woodland Empire tasting room “pints” are 20-ounce glasses. But this Belgian-inspired Tripel will be sold in “half-pint” 10-ouncers. “For one, it’s a higher ABV,” he says, “and we don’t want people to get too intoxicated. But also, a beer like that you want to drink in smaller increments. You don’t want people to get palate fatigue.”

Woodland Empire has two other beers in tanks that will be available in a few weeks. Cozy Up Imperial Milk Stout (ABV 10) will be sold on draft and in corked, champagne-style 750-milliliter bottles. It’s one of four “one-offs” the brewery plans to release each year and bottle. The other beer coming in February is a seasonal called Invincible Summer (ABV 7); it’s actually a rich, gold-colored winter warmer.

Woodland Empire plans a grand-opening celebration in a few weeks. Until then, brewery representatives will fan out into local pubs and retailers spreading the word about their beers.

You can meet the brewers from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Bier:Thirty, 3073 Bown Road, Boise, and from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Brewer’s Haven, 1795 Vista Ave., Boise.

Or just slide over to Woodland Empire’s tasting room for a pour.

Hours are 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

If you go, expect company. On opening day this week, the tasting room closed out more than 200 tabs.

“Man, it was crazy,” Landerman says.

NO MORE LIQUOR AT TAPHOUSE — FOR NOW

With 44 tap handles, Taphouse Pub & Eatery, 760 W. Main St., has always been all about the beer.

But as of Jan. 7, it really became all about the beer.

The Downtown Boise hangout had been leasing its liquor license, and the license owner chose not to renew that lease. So Taphouse has been unable to sell liquor for the past week and a half.

Owner Brian Forde says the situation will be temporary. “We do realize that our customers want liquor, and it will be back soon,” he says. “Until then, we will really highlight our great beer selection, and we’ll have a different beer special every single day.”

SOCKEYE CELEBRATES CANS

On Jan. 24, 1935, the first canned beer was introduced to the public: Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale. That makes next Friday the 79th anniversary of canned beer.

As the first brewery since the 1950s to install an in-house canning line and package beer in Idaho, Sockeye Brewing finds this date significant.

So Sockeye will celebrate “Beer Can Appreciation Day” at Sockeye Grill & Brewery, 3019 N. Cole Road, Boise.

On Jan. 24, Sockeye’s five canned beers — normally offered in six-packs — will be sold individually for $2 a can and come with a free Sockeye koozie that retails for $4.

Michael Deeds: 377-6407 Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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