Beer notes: Idaho’s canned beers find success in neighboring states

Boise-area breweries have come a long way since they started canning beers a few years ago.

At first, most of this canned brew — made by Sockeye Brewing, Payette Brewing Company and Crooked Fence Brewing Company — was only available in the Gem State.

But as the popularity of Boise’s brewing scene spiked at a local level, the breweries soon realized they could sell their canned beers in neighboring states.

Payette, which recently announced it would be building a new $4.5 million production facility and taproom near Downtown Boise, slated to open in 2016, sells about two-thirds of its beer in cans.

Most of Payette’s brew sales come from Idaho, but the brewery also sells canned beer in Oregon, Utah, Nevada and parts of Washington. The new, much larger facility will allow them to break into other markets such as a highly competitive one in Seattle. Payette plans to keep its Garden City brewery open.

Sockeye Brewing, known for its Dagger Falls IPA and other flagship and seasonal brews, has been a tour de force (when it comes to canning beer) since it built a sprawling production facility on Fairview Avenue in Boise.

“We are probably canning close to 6,500-7,000 cases a month,” says Josh King, Sockeye’s head brewer and brewery manager.

Besides Idaho, Sockeye brews are also available in parts of Utah, Oregon and Washington. And when Sockeye unveils its new, automated production line in early September, expect the brewery to expand canned beer sales into Montana and Wyoming.

“We’ll have a 20-barrel system and a 40-barrel system side by side. It could potentially double our canned beer output,” King says.

Crooked Fence Brewing’s canned beer program is considerably smaller than Payette’s and Sockeye’s, yet the brewery still manages to can about 2,000 cases of beer a month, with the help of a mobile canning operation. Crooked Fence cans five of its brews, including 3 Picket Porter and the recently introduced Trainwreck Red amber ale.

Much of the brewery’s canned beer — emblazoned with bright artwork made by brand manager Kelly Knopp — is sold in Idaho.

But Crooked Fence brews are available in the Portland area and in parts of Washington as well. Surprisingly, the brewery recently tapped into the Midwest market when it signed a deal with a distributor in Wisconsin, a state known for its profusion of canned beer.

“The distributor approached us. They wanted beers that nobody else has over there,” Knopp says.

“So we are now having Northwest Canning (a Portland-based mobile canning operation) come in twice a month to beef us up.”

Pre Funk opens 3rd location

Pre Funk opened its third location in July in Downtown Meridian’s historic Heritage Building, 729 N. Main St., across the street from Sunrise Bakery and Cafe.

The craft-beer bar has had great success in Downtown Boise, and more recently at its second location in Nampa’s Belle District, so opening a Pre Funk in Meridian seems like a logical progression for this up-and-coming local libation chain.

Don’t be surprised to find 40 handcrafted local and regional brews on tap, as well as draft root beer and ginger beer for those not looking to cop a buzz. The bar hosts live music on weekends, and a patio is in the works. As for grub, expect to find local food trucks parked out front on busy nights to feed the hungry masses.

Boise Brewing growth spurt

Boise Brewing, a small community-supported brewery in Downtown Boise’s Central Addition district, recently doubled its brewing capacity by installing two new 30-barrel fermenters.

This means more tap handles of Hip Check IPA and Snowboarder Porter at watering holes around town. Or stop by the brewery’s taproom, at 521 W. Broad St., and quaff a few brews with fellow beer geeks.

Over the summer, head brewer Lance Chavez and his crew also bottled a Boise Brewing beer, Roosevelt Red Rye, for the first time, with the help of Woodland Empire Ale Craft’s bottling line. It’s available at the brewery, 521 W. Broad St., Boise, and at its namesake Roosevelt Market, 311 N. Elm St., Boise, while supplies last.

Liquid courage

Down a couple of pints and grab the microphone at Crescent Brewery’s stand-up comedy night — held every Tuesday, starting at 7:30 p.m. — where inspiring comedians are encouraged to give it their best shot.

Crescent Brewery, at 1521 Front St. in Downtown Nampa, is known for its array of handcrafted seasonal and flagship brews, including malty Scottish ales with names like Tilted Kilt and Highland Hammer.

Fall brews

Crooked Fence Brewing will celebrate autumn with a seasonal brew (draft and 22-ounce bottles) that boasts an ominous name. Evil Harvest is a fall-inspired dark amber ale with hints of nutmeg, vanilla bean and pumpkin. “It has all those comforting fall spices that everyone likes,” Knopp says.

Starting in September, Sockeye Brewing will once again be celebrating the Oktoberfest season with a seasonal lager aptly called Socktoberfest. This German-style Marzen (draft only) goes down smooth and boasts a toasted malt finish.