Dave Krick has waited patiently to start a brewery. He even considered it in 1996 when he opened Bittercreek Alehouse in Downtown Boise, he says.
But when the Treasure Valley beer scene erupted with growth in recent years, the longtime Boise restaurateur didn’t feel extra urgency. Krick, who also owns Red Feather Lounge and Pollo Rey, had something different in mind.
He’ll finally share his vision for the brewery — called Works Progress Administration, or WPA for short — when it launches in or near Downtown Boise in late 2016. Krick and Jami Adams, his wife and business partner, are seeking a site of 10,000 or more square feet.
WPA will strive to produce high-quality brews in styles that often are underrepresented in Boise: farmhouse ales and other balanced, food-friendly beers. The brewery won’t bottle or can initially, but packaging is a goal. Whether WPA includes a tap room or even a restaurant component will depend on the site, Krick says.
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After working out the opening-year kinks, WPA will try to produce about 5,000 barrels annually — adding to a local brewery production number that keeps heading up, up, up.
“It’s crowded in Boise,” Krick says, “but I think Boise’s got a lot of room from a market standpoint. Local beer penetration is really quite small compared to how much beer is consumed here. We’re hoping to be a good contributor in terms of helping to build the Boise beer brand overall.”
Krick admits there’s a selfish reason for launching a brewery: Many of his favorite beers aren’t widely available, or available at all. He doesn’t pretend that WPA will roar out of the gate and match a world-class operation such as Fantome Brewery in Belgium. But he can aspire to create beers similar in philosophy.
“It’s been a thought-out process,” Krick explains. “We took our time. First of all, I didn’t even know how to brew. I took the hard path. That was at the cost of watching breweries explode around us. Our interest is to start slow and build something that’s built to last.”
From 2010 to 2012, Krick enrolled at the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and Doemens Akadamie in Munich, Germany, where he graduated with a brewing science and technology diploma and was certified as a master brewer.
His appreciation for tradition will translate to WPA’s five-vessel, 25-hectoliter — or about 21-barrel — brewhouse. One of the things that will separate it from other breweries is the inclusion of a coolship, used for cooling wort. It’s a piece of equipment largely abandoned in modern times.
It’s also the type of concept that fits in with the WPA mindset. Krick, who will oversee brewery operations, plans to nurture WPA beers sometimes using ideas and equipment that might seem dated or unproductive.
“It’s like the difference between vinyl and CD in that world, if you follow me,” Krick says. “I like vinyl because there’s a lot of little pieces that get lost when you condense it. Our brewery is designed to be a little less efficient. It’s going to take sort of a slower approach to making beer. It’s nuance. Our focus is going to be quality.”
Will the slower, artisan methods be something that consumers are able to discern?
Good question. “It’s untested,” Krick admits.
Either way, WPA’s brewhouse should add something unique to the local beer scene.
“It’ll be fun, I think, when you see it,” Krick says. “Because it will be so different. It will be interesting to see the technology and see how it works. We’re going to have to learn how to use it. I’m not promising we’re going to make good beer from the start.”