If you ducked into White Dog Brewing Co. during its soft opening last weekend at 705 W. Fulton St., you got a warm reception.
Unless, of course, you put your hand on the frost rail, a 24-foot-long bartop strip that keeps your pint ice-cold.
Aside from that, Downtown Boise’s newest brewery delivers a rustic, almost down-home experience.
“We want to be a very warm, inviting place that people can come in and feel like they want to hang out,” explains co-owner Dan Jordan.
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From the canine-themed name and soft room acoustics to the reclaimed wood and padded seats, White Dog feels less industrial than other breweries. That’s even when you’re peering through the glass at the stainless-steel brewing equipment, a leftover from TableRock Brewpub & Grill, which closed in 2014 after almost a quarter of a century there. (Grind Modern Burger took over the room afterward but folded in early 2016.)
The owners of White Dog have roots in Alaska and Montana. They opened the original White Dog Brewing in 2015 in Bozeman. But these guys understand their unavoidable connection to Boise’s past. That’s why White Dog in Boise brews two TableRock beers.
TableRock Hopzilla is on tap now. (Although it might not be quite what your taste buds remember. It’s the first-generation version from the early 1990s. “It’s very smooth,” Jordan notes, “and very ahead of its time.”) Coming soon: TableRock’s Nut Brown Ale.
“Those are the two we hear about all the time,” Jordan says with a patient smile. “All the time.”
Keeping in line with the friendly vibe, White Dog strives for appealing, easy-drinking beers. Co-owner Troy Moore, who shares White Dog brewing duties with his brother Joe (who runs the brewery in Bozeman), is fond of oak-aged brews. So watch for something barrel-influenced soon. But for now, White Dog is pouring an array of delicious, welcoming beers: top-selling Blood Orange Hefeweizen (5.0 percent ABV), Scotch Ale (5.1 ABV), Blackberry Sour (4.2 ABV), Blond Ale (5.2 ABV) and English IPA (6.25 ABV). Pints range from $4.50 to $6. White Dog also plans to run a weekly $3 beer special.
Grab a flight of tasters and prepare to nod appreciatively. “We try to make approachable, balanced beers,” Jordan says. Right now, White Dog has six beers on tap. There will be a dozen within a couple of weeks, and probably around 15 or 16 when White Dog is running on all cylinders.
The English IPA, in particular, stands out because of its mild, strategically non-West Coast flavor profile.
“We’re getting a ton of great reception on the English IPA,” Jordan says. “People are getting burned out with the over-hopped beers.”
White Dog will have six packs of cans ready to go this week, and plans to sell beer in 22-ounce bottles and kegs.
White Dog’s 15-barrel Boise brewery has about three times the capacity of the Bozeman location, Jordan says, and will be able to produce about 3,000 to 4,000 barrels annually, if warranted.
Unlike TableRock, White Dog is not a restaurant. But you can order food from Smoke&Thyme, a huge mobile kitchen parked in the alley. Orders are delivered straight to tables. Options range from burgers and sandwiches to tacos, appetizers, salads and dessert.
“The food is phenomenal,” Jordan says. “We love what they’re doing.”
Looking for a distraction? You’ll find sports on huge flat-screen TVs, a couple of dart boards, Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man machines, and a bumper pool table.
Looking for cider? LongDrop Cider Co. is around the corner in the same building.
White Dog’s outdoor patio isn’t open yet, but that’s coming soon.
Jordan says he and Moore feel comfortable that there’s a niche for White Dog in Boise’s increasingly competitive brewery scene.
“With the beers, we focus on the consistency and the quality,” Jordan says. “We’re also very broad. We probably do 40 different styles. We’re not doing just the same thing that you always see.
“But we try to be very balanced and drinkable,” he adds, “so even new beer drinkers can come in and enjoy it without it being these too off-the-wall, weird, unbalanced flavors.”
And there’s always the frost rail. No other local brewery has a frost rail. (Although Whole Foods’ River Room has a much smaller one.)
“You can draw little squiggleys in it,” Troy Moore says. “You can make little snowballs and flick ’em at your friends. There’s all kinds of good uses for it.”
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
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