Foaming at the Mouth


The locavore movement has spilled into craft beer and Boise’s microbreweries are expanding their facilities to meet the increasing demand

By Ken Levy
Photography by Copper Chadwick

Whether quaffing a local in-house brew or picking up six packs from longtime or expanding Idaho breweries, people are foaming at the mouth for more locally made beer.

Matt Gelsthorpe, beer buyer for the Boise Coop, reports that the craft beer market is growing throughout Idaho, as more and more people want their food and beverages sourced locally.

In fact, two local microbreweries have recently found homes in Garden City to meet demand, and more are on the way.

Crooked Fence Brewery recently celebrated its first anniversary in the Treasure Valley and has already made quite a name for itself.

Andy Leathers, who runs Crooked Fence along with brewer Kris Price and partners Kelly Knopp (marketing/artwork) and Travis Krawl (investor/drinker), said Crooked Fence brewed just over 1,100 barrels its first year and anticipates that number to rise to 3,000 barrels in 2013.

The owners feel that the Garden City area is up and coming and the brewery, according to Leathers, “will be opening a second location – The Barrelhouse Brewpub – about a half-mile from the brewery” in mid-June.

Currently, Crooked Fence has about 175 tap handles throughout the local market; with 22 ounce bottles and 12 ounce cans available at local retailers, including the Co-op. “We hope to expand again to about 5,000 barrels soon,” Leathers said. “We are only available in Idaho right now. We feel there is plenty of room for growth here still.”

Also in Garden City, Payette Brewing Company, celebrating its second year, brewed just over 2,300 barrels last year, and is on pace to do over 5,000 this year, said founder Michael Francis.

“The draw to come here was more a desire to live in Boise than a business decision, although I did see a great opportunity for a new craft brewery in Boise,” Francis said. “At the time, there was not a true production brewery in Boise, though many of the brewpubs distributed their products, so I saw potential for a brewery that focused on selling beer to bars and restaurants.”

Currently, Payette Brewing Co. is wrapping up a 4,000 square-foot warehouse facility to keg and can its beers, and will continue to add capacity as it reaches into new markets in the northwest.

TableRock Brewery, Boise’s oldest, got its start during the beer-boom cycle of the 1990s, Gelsthorpe said. Founded in 1991, the brewpub brews and serves its own creations, including Hophead IPA, Whitebird Wheat, Hoptilla and Copperhead Red, using a 12-barrel brewing system.

Boise’s Sockeye Brewery has experienced exponential growth since brewing from a four-barrel system in 1996 to meet local restaurant demand. When the microbrew scene exploded in 2011, Sockeye produced 1,500 barrels of its microbrews. Now they’re expanding with a 12,000 square-foot location that will allow them to produce 3,000 barrels a year.

Boise microbreweries Highlands Hollow and The Ram serve their own beers in-house, although the former produces for other restaurants and bars as well.

Gelsthorpe said microbrew prices appear headed down and closer to those mass produced, adding to their popularity.