It’s the weekend. Foolishly, you have gone to Costco. All 600,000 residents of the Treasure Valley are crammed inside, creating a traffic jam of carts piled high with 48-count packs of toilet paper.
Don’t get mad — get Mad Swede.
Mad Swede Brewing, which hopes to open by late summer, is a half mile south of Costco at 2772 S. Cole Road.
Head brewer Jerry Larson already is imagining his typical customer.
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“You go to Costco at 3 o’clock on Saturday afternoon, and that can be a pretty harrowing experience,” Larson says. “Come on down, have a beer, relax — then take your stuff home.”
Better yet, be THAT spouse: “Drop me off and pick me up when you’re done,” Larson says with a laugh.
In a market teeming with new breweries, Mad Swede will have at least one differentiating facet: location. Larson, who co-owns Mad Swede with his wife, Susie, said that choosing the 4,800-square-foot space was a “semiconscious” decision.
“By that, I mean that we specifically chose not to be in Garden City,” he says. “Only because there’s a whole row (of breweries) up there.”
Jerry, a mechanical engineer at HP Inc., and Susie, a firmware engineer for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, combed several parts of Boise before settling on the southwest.
“The building itself, the location itself — it’s one quarter of a warehouse,” Jerry Larson says. “Ah, but it’s the quarter that butts Cole Road, so we can be seen. We’re not buried in the back. Cole Road gets a tremendous amount of traffic ... and it is severely underserved for a brewery. So we think there’s a lot of positives there.”
After taking early retirement in June, Larson plans to go “all in” at the brewery, which will have a 15-barrel brewhouse and 1,000-square-foot tasting room. Larson has home-brewed since 1979, he says, winning or placing in competitions. Still, he’s reticent to refer to himself as a “brewmaster,” because he hasn’t brewed continuously since that first batch in college.
After the Larsons watched their son and daughter grow up and move out of the house, opening a brewery seemed like a natural next step. “Mad Swede” is a play on Jerry’s ancestry and the mad-scientist aspect of brewing.
“I’ve kind of done the engineering thing for 30-plus years, and this is a little more art,” Larson says. “And a little more fun. And the time was right, and so we just kicked it around between the two of us and said ‘Let’s do this thing.’ ”
Mad Swede will offer four core beers: a rye wheat, an IPA, a brown ale and a stout. Seasonals also will be part of the equation, including a dunkelweizen, which would be an enticing fall offering if Mad Swede opens around that time. “That’s kind of a fun beer; a little different,” Larson says.
Mad Swede will fill pints and growlers and sell hand-filled 22-ounce bottles.
“I would dearly love to get into canning,” Larson adds. But sounding like the engineer that he is, Larson notes that oxygen introduced during the canning process has the potential to compromise beer quality. “We have to go into that a little bit judiciously,” he says.
Food will not be in the Mad Swede playbook, but customers will be encouraged to bring their own. Besides, food trucks magically appear outside breweries. “That, and takeout is our friend,” Larson says. “We’ve already had a couple of pizzas delivered to the site.”
Larson guesses that he’ll brew 500 to 600 barrels of beer his first year, assuming demand calls for it. But that’s just a target number. “We’ll do 1,000 if we can sell 1,000,” he says.
“That’s going to be an interesting part. I’m an engineer, not a sales guy. It’s on me.”
Still, this whole engineer-turned-brewer thing? It’s not entirely mad.
“A lot of engineering is a mix of art and science,” Larson says. “That’s what beer is — a mix of art and science.”
Ballast Point invades Albertsons this weekend
San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewing — one of the most creative beer purveyors on the planet — will invade Albertsons growler stations for tap takeovers Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2.
A brewery representative will bring beer samples and Ballast Point swag to each location.
Here’s what you’ll find on tap:
County Line celebrates 1 year with party
It’s anniversary-party time Saturday, April 2, at County Line Brewing, 9115 W. Chinden Blvd.
The Garden City brewery and tasting room will host a “Cheers to One Year” celebration starting at noon.
In addition to lining up 10 beers to pour, County Line has invited food trucks Big Mike’s Tids and Bits (smoked meats, barbecue) and Mad Mac (mac-and-cheese creations) to provide grub. Local cover group The Big Wow Band will perform from 6 to 9 p.m. on the patio.