Idaho Brewing History: What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

by

Toasting Idaho Brews

In the Aug. 10 issue of Boise Weekly, I look at the history of brewing beer in Idaho. Idaho beer historian Herman Ronnenberg had so many amazing tales to tell. Following is one.

In 1908, as a prelude to Prohibition, Idaho cities and counties began holding elections to decide whether to prohibit booze and beer in their individual jurisdictions. Some areas voted to stay “wet” while others went “dry,” creating a crazy patchwork of alcohol ordinances that would make even a teetotaler dizzy.

Ronnenberg said that if you happened to be riding a train across state back then, you’d find yourself legally sipping a brew while rolling through one county, have it snatched away as you crossed into the next, then delivered back, snatched, delivered, snatched, delivered and snatched all the way to your destination. Frequent travelers no doubt developed a keen sense of when a county line was approaching and learned to drink accordingly.

The history of the rise and fall—and rising again—of Idaho’s beer industry is as surprising as one of those train rides must have been. Read more about it on Wednesday.