When Woodland Empire Ale Craft opened in January, the brewery announced its presence with a billboard mimicking the nearby green and yellow signs on the westbound entrance of the I-184 Connector. The sign read like a freeway off-ramp: "Craft beer: right here." An arrow points to the brewery parking lot.
The Idaho Transportation Department is not amused.
The department has ordered Woodland Empire to remove the sign, saying it interferes with the nearby Connector signs.
"The main issue is one of Idaho Code," department spokesman Reed Hollinshead said in an email. "Namely, you cannot imitate a highway sign or attempt to redirect the flow of traffic."
Brewery owner Dusty Schmidt said he and the other three partners expected the state to take action sooner. He said the order to take the sign down will make the sign — which was designed to attract attention — a success.
"We hope the coverage will get us brand awareness that we never could have afforded otherwise," Schmidt said.
The sign was created by Boise marketing firm Oliver Russell. Dave Cook, creative director at the firm, said the sign accomplished its goal of gaining attention for the brewery.
"All billboards distract drivers," Cook said in a news release. "Especially the good ones."
Cook said city of Boise staffers reviewed the sign design prior to its erection and said it complied with city ordinances. However, the brewery didn't contact the state.
Hollinshead said the department would take the sign down if Woodland Empire didn't, but that scenario appeared unlikely.
"The owner has indicated that they'll take the sign down and may even have a contest or something like that to more closely mimic their business branding," Hollinshead said.
Zach Kyle: 377-6464, Twitter: @IDS_zachkyle