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Doors Open at Boise Brewing

Community-owned brewery comes to Broad Street


Need evidence that Boise's growing? Look no further than Boise Weekly's Broad Street neighbors. In 2011, Concordia Law School took over a nearby, empty office building. Earlier this year, Trader Joe's popped up in a sprawling gravel parking lot. And this week, Boise Brewing is opening a glistening new microbrewery in former punk dive, The Venue.

Though Chief Brewing Officer Collin Rudeen joked he needed a jackhammer and a chainsaw to remove The Venue's stage, which had been "nailed, screwed and glued together," the end result was worth the effort. The bright blue, two-story brewery features roll-up garage doors that let in floods of light and an upstairs seating nook with comfy couches. Skylights illuminate the 15-barrel brewery's stainless steel fermenters and mashtun, which are separated from the wrap-around bar and downstairs seating area by a row of empty kegs.

This project, formerly called Bogus Brewing, has been in the works for a while. In 2012, Rudeen raised more than $30,000 in startup capital on Kickstarter before deciding to launch what he dubbed an "Idaho Public Offering" to raise more funds last June.

"When I went to research the normal ways that you can finance a company, I kept getting the same answer: 'Either get a big bank loan or you're limited to 35 people,' which means that each person's got to have $20,000 to be able to invest," said Rudeen. "I asked more and more people and finally somebody told me about this SCOR, Small Company Offering Registration."

Essentially, SCOR allows smaller companies to sell shares of stock to a larger pool of investors at a lower cost. The brewery was able to raise $450,000 in equity from 232 community owners--many of whom invested the minimum $1,000.

"That way a normal person can own a little piece of the brewery and get their mug on the wall," explained Rudeen.

In one corner of the airy brewhouse, neat rows of clay mugs inscribed with various names line the wall. Brown mugs belong to shareholders, while blue ones are reserved for Kickstarter contributors. A friend of Rudeen's, Rhiannon Touchette, made each of the mugs by hand.

As it turns out, having 232 owners can be a great resource. The building's architect, contractor, electrical contractor and painter were all owners. And another owner crafted the brewery's sleek wooden tables and chairs.

"We've got another owner that's got a honeybee farm so it would be supercool to get some honey from him for a mead or something," said Rudeen.

But the cooperative model doesn't extend to the brewery's management. Though Boise Brewing just elected a board of directors for general oversight, they're not there to micromanage the microbrews.

"I think we'll ask for some input, but they don't really have any hand in managing the company or its day-to-day operations," said Rudeen. "Otherwise we'd never get anything done."

But the owners have already been asked to give input on one important issue: Boise Brewing's recent name change.

"Bogus Basin contacted us and wanted us to change the name; that was back in March," said Rudeen. "We had some back-and-forth negotiations to figure out. ... We came to an agreement with them to change the name. ... We sent out a request for name suggestions and Boise Brewing was far and away the favorite."

While there were plenty of creative suggestions, there was also one key restriction: The new name had to start with a "B" so the brewery could keep its logo.

"The really tricky thing was that there's 2,500 breweries in the U.S. already and we had to pick one that starts with the letter 'B,'" said Rudeen. "So there were really good suggestions--like Bona Fide Brewing, to be the opposite of Bogus Brewing--that we just couldn't use because those breweries existed already."

But the name change didn't set them back long. Head brewer Lance Chavez, a former assistant brewer at Sockeye, has been busily cranking out brews for the public opening Friday, June 13. Boise Brewing's six starting beers will include the easy-drinking Broad Street Blonde; the citrusy, hop-forward Hip-Check IPA; the chocolaty Snowboarder Porter; Hard Guy, a rye saison brewed with Belgian candy sugar; and Down Down, a crisp, extra pale ale that's a nod to Boise's Hash House Harriers running/drinking club.

"People run around and drink beer and then there's this complex set of rules and you call people out for breaking the rules," explained Rudeen. "They sing you a very insulting song while they force you to drink a little bit of beer out of a bedpan or something like that. And that drink is called a Down Down."

In fact, all of Boise Brewing's beer names allude to an aspect of Boise's active culture. The Hip-Check IPA is a reference to the Treasure Valley Roller Girls, while the Hard Guy saison is named after a local mountain biking trail.

In addition to these flagship brews, Boise Brewing will also craft a rotating monthly release for its Community Supported Brewing members. CSB memberships, which cost $100 until opening day, include a Hydro Flask growler and 13 growler fills throughout the year.

"Our first CSB beer will be a strong pale ale, the name is Ode to the Pimp," explained Chavez. "That is named after a beer that I made at Sockeye that actually won a gold medal called Precocious Imperial Pale, but that was too long to say, so it just got the acronym PIMP. ... I wanted to start off with a really good beer for our owners and CSB members and I wanted to brew this beer one more time and kind of say goodbye to it."

Speaking of saying goodbye, in a nod to the spot's previous tenant, Boise Brewing will host a live-music-filled grand opening party Saturday, June 21. Rudeen is hoping to obtain permits to shut down Broad Street for a raucous block party filled with food trucks. If that happens, it'll be an appropriate bash to celebrate the changing face of a once-quiet corner of downtown Boise.