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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Boise Brew Scene

Openings and closing on tap for Boise breweries

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This month, Boise’s burgeoning beer scene is taking two steps forward and one step back.

Brand new brewery Bear Island Brewing Co. is now distributing its first flagship brew to a few select bars around town. The three-barrel brewery is based in brewer and owner Beth Bechtel’s home garage.

“We were able to get our residential garage zoned and licensed and all approved, so literally all the beer is coming from my home to yours,” said Bechtel.

Bechtel was a personal trainer and professional boxer before she joined the Navy in 2007. Now, she’s turned her homebrewing passion into “a veteran-owned, community-supporting” business.

“Our whole goal is to offer something just a little different, not crazy, not way out there, just nothing anybody here has had before,” said Bechtel. “We have the normal styles—pale ale, brown and IPA—but all of them offer something different that no one’s done.”

For example, Bear Island’s first beer, Fuse Pale Ale, is infused with jalapenos.

“People seem to be really afraid of chili beers. Some are really spicy and they burn when they go down your throat. Ours is real subtle; a lot of people can’t even guess that it’s jalapenos. … It was invented for people coming over for a barbecue, so it goes really good with grilled food and meats,” said Bechtel.

Bear Island’s other two flagships include the Bearfoot Brown, a nutty, roasty brown ale, and an IPA with a “secret ingredient” that Bechtel wouldn’t divulge. The company’s logo is a silver dog tag with a bear and the state of Idaho.

“My husband and I are both veterans, so a big part of our company is not only spreading the veteran love, let’s say, but we also want to spread the awareness of especially disabled veterans and we’re going to start doing a lot of veteran events,” said Bechtel.

You can find Bear Island’s Fuse Pale Ale on tap at Bittercreek Ale House, Grind Modern Burger, Prefunk, Bier:Thirty and Haff Brewing. For more info, visit bearislandbrewing.com.

Speaking of Haff Brewing, the Garden City brewery hosted its official grand opening party Dec. 13 at its taproom, located next door to Cobby's Sandwich Shop on Chinden Boulevard. The taproom is open Wednesday-Friday from 4-8 p.m. and Saturday from noon-8 p.m. pouring brews like Sargent Haff IPA, McCallywood Porter and Watermelon Wheat. Haff’s cotton candy-hued handles can also be found around town at spots like PreFunk, Wiseguy Pizza Pie, Brewer’s Haven, Silly Birch and The Lift. For more info, visit Haff Brewing’s Facebook page.

In brewery closing news, Kilted Dragon Brewing recently announced that its second anniversary birthday party on Dec. 13 would also be its last day open. According to the brewery’s Facebook page, brewmasters Cory Matteucci and Jeremy Canning both now have day jobs.

“We have had a good run, made some great beer, made even better friends, but unfortunately we will have to close our doors,” they wrote.