Spring to Summer 2013 ~ The Beer Floweth

Spring is a time of renewal, and growth. In McCall, high up in the Salmon River Mountains the snow often lingers, triggering a restlessness as the mud mixes with rain, and the south facing patches under the pines are the only spots one can smell the dirt, and spy the green grass reaching towards the sun. Restlessness turns to energy and movement as spring in the mountains shifts to summer. The Lake, the trails, the birds, and the people return. In the brewery and pub, renewal, growth, energy, and movement were no less present.

Renewal in spirit started off well, when SRB was awarded silver at the North American Beer Awards for our P.F.D. Pale, in Idaho Falls on May 31st. This is the United States second largest judged beer event, based off of entries, including breweries from outside the U.S.A. We entered the P.F.D. into the American Pale Ale style, which this year had the most entries of any category. Our Pale went up against 91 other pales, and came out with silver.
High Fives!!

In April and May, growth was the theme, as the brewery was “unplugged” for a few days, allowing for the installation of SRB’s new line up of Premier Stainless System uni-tank fermenters,  a brite tank, and the brand new glycol system needed for temperature control.

These wonders of fermentation, and conditioning are HAPPY additions. High quality stainless steel, excellent temperature control, easy to clean.The first 4 years of fermenting beer in the original, old converted dairy tanks, was truly an education, and a cutting of the cloth as growing professional brewers. It forced us to focus extremely closely on proper cleaning and sanitation procedures, due to the open nature of the dairy tanks, coupled with our rookie status in 2008. They offered us an intriguing insight to what brewers have used for centuries, i.e. open tanks. (and still use today). We also feel we “paid our dues” hand scrubbing each tank after every fermenting session. All of this allowed us to appreciate the delivery of the new modern tanks exponentially more.

The difference is striking really. The new tanks vertical orientation allow us to pack more tanks in our small brewery, which means more available production. 1,400 barrels per year up from 600 barrels (a barrel is 31 gallons). We also invested in 300 new kegs to compliment the growth in fermentation space, our awesome keg washer, “E.P.A. for I.P.A.” (Thanks for the name James!), and a slough of other miscellaneous items associated with this type of growth.

Who would have guessed that the 150% increase in production capability would be maxed out by JUNE? We think our beer is delicious. We really do believe in our beer, and have been told time and again by pub go’ers, our network of draft beer accounts, and by many of our fellow industry colleagues, that they believe in our beer too. But 3 months of breathing room, and then WHAM, at capacity?!? Wow, humbled, and scrambling. Our partners in distribution to the Central and Southern Idaho region, Craig Stein Beverage, believe in us too, and played a huge part in getting our beer into the hands of 3 times the amount of accounts we had through self distribution, in a remarkably short amount of time.  We simply would never have imagined telling them to SLOW/STOP opening new accounts, inside 6 months.

Energy and movement arrived at our pub Memorial day. Summer weather showed up a week or two earlier than the last few years, and with it the people. We were pleased to offer 22 oz bottles of beer in our pub to greet the mass of summer pub go’ers. It is all hand bottling right now, so it was expected we would struggle to keep up, and struggle we did. When we were able to take a day to focus on bottling, we had a blast though.

We have a few ideas to raise efficiency with our manual bottling process, but until we acquire a semi-automated bottling, or canning unit, it will likely remain a holiday, special release offering only.



Energy and movement is at the root of our pub experience. Grill masters buzzing around putting together picnic table after picnic table of food, servers flying around with trays of cold beer, and hot food off of the grill, pub goe’rs flowing in after a day on the lake, river or trail, musicians rocking out on the stage. Everything about SRB’s pub was in action, and at times absolutely over flowing with activity. Even with a 7 day a week beer production schedule, by the end of July the pub was down to ZERO SRB beers on tap for a 24 hour period, and then weeks of 3 or 4 standard offerings. We plan for success, but we did not expect a summer like this.
Renewal, growth, energy, and movement. Cycles abound, and as we transition into our fall stretch we look forward to learning from this last Spring to Summer period, staying stoked with our vision to craft excellent beer, creating the best customer experience, supporting live music, and building on this time, to become a better brewery, and a better pub.

The Dawn of the New Age

Statistically speaking, about 1 in 5 Americans believed that the world would end yesterday, December 21. The U.S. and Turkey were tied for the most citizens harboring millennial suspicions. Why so many? The first, and most important reason, is that America is number one.

Seriously though, inspiration for these beliefs can be found in movies that stoke their fires. Religious imagery is another source. Regardless of your spiritual inclinations, we live in a culture where Judeo-Christian archetypes have taken root in the popular zeitgeist. Apocalyptic prophecies are pretty darned irresistible and the Old and New Testaments are full of such visions. Seepage into secular thought is inevitable. Then again, those ancient stories may be just tapping into something deeper in the human condition.

Analysis of some evidence is pending at the moment but early reports confirm that the world did not end yesterday. That’s right. We made it! Planet Earth and everything on it narrowly dodged a nonspecific and almost certainly fictitious destruction.

It has been fun to speculate about the end, providing great conversation material in the pub. Now, we must place this event in the folder that contains the Y2K non-event, among others, and move on to the next gripping prophecy.

While you wait for the next “end of days,” I would suggest enjoying a beer. Warnings about the end are frequent, so you may only have time for one before we all kick the collective bucket. Make it count.

New Brews

It would be a shame to face the universe ripped asunder without a Super Shiver IPA in hand. You can call it Imperial Shiver, if you like. This amped up version of Normal Shiver is no huge departure but does pack a bit more of a punch at 7.6 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). It’s distinct in other ways, like the pronounced hop profile and an almost solid mouth feel.

If hops aren’t your thing, try Cherry Christmas, SRB’s winter seasonal. I heard people talking about this since I started working in the pub and had created a mythical uber-seasonal in my mind that would lay to waste all other winter beers. Predictably, this is not exactly the beer I was expecting. Cherry Christmas is a dark amber (or is it light brown?) ale packed with the flavor of cherries and the Christmas spirit. Like many SRB brews, it’s an easy drinking and lighter experience than you would expect from a winter beer.

For the Love of Beer

I’ve worked in the pub for 7 months now and have seen many changes there. SRB, as a company, has been making moves during that time to get bigger, pour more beers, have more live music, and generally become a more successful business. The heart of that process is the passion that the owners have for what they do. It’s not often that people create the opportunities to do what they love for a living. That passion shows in the beer, in the pub, and the growing number of tap handles in Treasure Valley and McCall.

SRB is a small building but this has only been a catalyst for creativity. The Matt’s are constantly finding ways to squeeze a little more space out of the building and continue expansion. It has been inspiring to see the brewery and pub evolve as the reach of the business grows. Lately, things have been changing on a daily basis.

A big change of late is the newly enclosed patio. Have you tried to get a seat or just get in the door at the pub on a busy winter night? At times, it has been close to impossible. This doesn’t sit well with any of the team. In order to turn fewer people away, the back patio of the pub has been enclosed in removable plastic walls. Combined with heaters, the patio has become a comfortable place to enjoy dinner on a winter evening. Disclaimer: We only intend to heat the patio when the pub fills up or to accommodate a large party, in the interest of consuming fewer fossil fuels.

Minor changes inside the pub have also taken place, including a new refrigerator that will one day be the home of SRB bottled beer. Yep, bottled beer. Stay tuned for more details.

One final note: On New Year’s Eve, we hope that you’ll stop by to celebrate with live music by Stoneseed, as we greet 2013 and wave goodbye to 2012. Check out Stoneseed on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/stoneseedband?filter=1 and get your boogie shoes all polished up for a night of dancing and making merry.

Everyone at SRB wishes a happy, hoppy holidays to you!


The Brewery of No Return

Take a look at your natural river. What are you? Stop playing games with yourself. Where’s your river going? Are you riding with it? Or are you rowing against it? Don’t you see that there is no effort if you’re riding with your river?

 Frederick (Carl) Frieseke (1874-1939)

Beginning with it’s headwaters in the Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley, the Salmon River runs for 425 miles, coursing through a swath of wild Idaho before joining the Snake River. It flows through the largest wilderness in the lower 48(Frank Church/River of No Return), the second deepest river gorge in North America (Hells Canyon is number one), and features the one of longest salmon runs of any American river. From the mouth of the Columbia to Redfish Lake near Stanley is a long swim for anybody.

Despite it’s name, the Salmon River Brewery doesn’t lie within the Salmon River watershed. The Salmon drainage is a valley to the east and the brewery is firmly within the North Fork of the Payette River watershed, also part of the larger Snake River basin.

Physical proximity doesn’t prevent SRB from occupying the Salmon River drainage in a spiritual sense. Or vice versa. The river has a profound effect on life in McCall and has cast its magic on owners and beer lovers alike. McCall is the starting point for many river adventures and it’s not uncommon to overhear stories of boating adventures, epic or botched, in the pub.

The brewery’s name is but one recognition of the power that the river has over us. Transformative encounters with the wildest in nature and within us occur on the river. On a free flowing body of water which is a perfect metaphor for life, we may begin to see clearly the stream of our own activity and suddenly, the great mysteries in life can all make sense.

Such experiences are surely magnified in scope by the power of beer, that omnipresent libation of the river. SRB brews have moistened many a river rat’s throat and we hope they will continue to. You will find odes to a life on the water throughout the beers and the pub, from beer names to subtle hints on the wall. Here at the SRB, it’s all about the river, the mountains, and the brew.

This is all a long introduction to the Beer Migration. SRB has taken root near the Salmon River and is infiltrating streams and rivers in Idaho. From time to time, this blog will be taking a look at the places where SRB beer is now living. There’s a few reasons for this. One is that folks are asking about other places where they can enjoy the beer other than the pub. There is a list on the website (see Beer Migration, under the On Tap section) but it seems appropriate to do some semi-real journalism and check these places out. Plus, I love an excuse to test a new watering hole. A much larger reason is that we appreciate the partnerships that we form and we’d love to give these folks a shout out.

Following the Beer Migration: Paradise Burger

Location: North Fork of the Payette Watershed, McCall, ID

SRB on Tap: Shiver IPA

Visitors pulling into McCall may easily miss Paradise. While there’s a huge sign beckoning them in, the building itself is unassuming, quietly sitting next to Napa Auto Parts. Stop for a second and you can’t help but notice a quiet charm about the place. Rows of skis are the first indication of a commitment to sports and ski town life that dominate Paradise Burger.

Inside, the love of sports is overpowering. Between the ubiquitous Boise State paraphernalia and the well-positioned flat screens, sports coverage is complete. Also, notice the vintage tabletop Atari console, featuring Centipede. A home grown ambiance lets you know that this is a locals joint. Clearly, décor is secondary to some other experience here: food.

“Great food, beer & sports. Keep life simple,” proclaims a message at the bottom of the menu. Who can’t get into that? It’s a simple statement that represents the reputation that Paradise is built on. The menu is dominated by burgers and sandwiches, befitting the ethic of simplicity.

A well-rounded selection of beer is available with 13 beers on tap. Selection of beer ranges from domestic lagers to Idaho microbrews(Sockeye, Payette, and SRB) will keep many beer lovers happy. There’s even a cider on tap!

Beer selection and great burgers bring in the crowds and Paradise is frequently packed out. A generous lunch special is especially popular: $5 for a burger, fries, and a soft drink or PBR. Try to beat that deal. Just try.

Check it out the next time your in town. Watch some football with a great burger and perhaps a delicious IPA from just around the corner.





Early Winter?

After a hot, dry summer McCall is getting it’s first taste of the coming cold season. We’ve seen 6 inches or so of snow in town already. When we last posted on this blog it was still summer! What have we been up to? Read on…

Idaho Brewers…UNITE!

On September 22, SRB hosted a beer fest to benefit the newborn Idaho Brewers United(IBU), a craft beer guild with the mission of promoting and advocating craft beer in Idaho. This is a huge step for Idaho beer and SRB is honored to be a part of it. The event was a huge success with 10 breweries from around the state pouring 24 beers, live music, a huge community turnout, and the laidback vibe that SRB is known for.

The proceeds from the event went to covering various costs associated with the formation of the guild. We’d like to thank all the breweries involved, whose passion and hard work made the day and also thank everyone who came out. We couldn’t have done it without you.

You can expect more action from this group in the future so keep your eyes peeled. For more information on IBU, check them out on Facebook at:


or their Twitter feed:



Alcohol Content: 4.8% ABV (think session ale)

Hops: Fresh Citra Hops

Malt Presence: Very low

Tastes Like: Idaho pine forest meets refreshing sunshine with a dry finish

 Fresh hop ale is a cherished seasonal tradition here. Pub goers anticipate the arrival of this beer months in advance and speak of it in legendary terms. It’s a tough act to follow but the Matts are up to it. They added 80 pounds of fresh Citra hops during the boil for this beer and not a bit of kiln-dried hops.

Kiln-drying hops brings out the complex notes that make IPAs and many other beers bitter and oh so delicious. Fresh hops are a different beast entirely. They are undeniably more plant-like in taste, conjuring visions of pine trees and citrus fruits. If you haven’t experienced a fresh hop ale, come on down. There are only a few kegs left! As we move on to late fall and winter seasonals, Ya-Ya’s will again join the realm of myth and sleep in the hearts of beer lovers for another year.

Everything about this beer screams summer to me. It is almost ironic that it comes at the beginning of fall, when the hops are harvested. I can imagine sipping on this by the lake in the full heat of July. Think of it as our salute to the warm months.

The Rise of the Machines

In our last post we alluded to some new additions to the brewery. Here’s a peak at a few of them.

 From the frontiers of keg washing technology comes this beauty from Premier Stainless Systems. This machine can wash 2 kegs every 10 minutes or about 12 kegs an hour. That’s faster than any Matt can wash a keg.  Hours of fastidious cleaning have been reduced exponentially. Hurray for technology!

We’d like to reach out to you readers and get some help naming the keg washer. Something so instrumental to the SRB Beer Migration deserves a name. Any ideas?

Turns out that this isn’t a relic from the Soviet space program. It’s the new 15 bbl tank awaiting it’s new home inside the brew house! This will significantly increase the capacity of the brewery and we’re all very excited to see it in action.

Snowpocalypse…or not

This week of winter in October has more than a few minds in town turned towards the slopes and talk of gnar, pow, and sickness is in the air. While this may just be a tease, we’ve got the itch for winter and are looking forward to kicking it off with you. Until then…


Winter Carnival 2012

Winter Carnival 2012 Sculpture

Winter Carnival 2012 starts with a bang!  Above is a picture of our snow sculpture “SNOMAGEDDON” at The Salmon River Brewery.  Come by and see it & enjoy some of the great 11 BEERS we have on Tap:

Udaho Gold       P.F.D. Pale Ale       Salmon River Quiver I.P.A.

Salmon River Shiver I.P.A.     Black Happy American Black Ale

The Big D.I.P.A.       Cherry Christmas         The Nutty Ambro

Chunder Chocolate Oatmeal Stout    Buzz Buzz Coffee Porter

Terra Incognita Barley Wine

We will be pouring at our pub and at the Barley Brothers Winter Ale Festival.


We also have FREE LIVE MUSIC lined up:

Friday 1/27/23 – Buster Blue

Saturday 1/28/12 – Free Peoples           Music starts at 8pm

Friday 2/3/12 – The Billy Goats

Saturday 2/4/12 – The Shook Twins

2011 McPaws Oktoberfest

McPaws Pic

This year is the second annual McPaws Oktoberfest celebration.

Founded in 1998,  McPAWS is the Regional Animal Shelter for Central Idaho.  It also has one of the highest “save” rates in the nation.

Last year alone McPaws was able to provide a safe haven for 614 lost, abandoned, and unwanted animals.  They found ‘forever homes’ for 453 animals, and returned 121 lost animals to their families. No healthy, adoptable animals were euthanized.   The facilities currently provide shelter for 75 cats and dogs.

The Salmon River Brewery supports McPaws non-profit organization with donations each year.

If you or anyone you know is interested in adopting an animal we recommend you visit McPaws Regional Animal Shelter in McCall or online:   http://www.mcpaws.org/

What would you do for a Udaho Gold?

On September 16, 2011 Craig Utter decided to set a personal record and ran from the Krassel Helibase to the Salmon River Brewery for a total of 42 miles.  He finished this ultra-marathon event in 8 hours 59 minutes and 32 seconds.

‘I ran the whole time accept for a lunch stop at the summit of Lick Creek & a quick jump in the Little Payette at the Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary.   It was an absolutely beautiful day for a run,’ said Utter.

Utter is a Heli-Rappellers of the Krassel Ranger District.  Krassel helibase is located along the South Fork Salmon River near Yellow Pine, Idaho.  The base has no electricity or telephones.  The area offers the outdoor enthusiast opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and hunting during recreational time.  Physical fitness is a top priority for Krassel Helitack Heli-rappellers, as proven by Utter.

At the end of his race the crew at the Salmon River Brewery had a 33 ounces of Udaho Gold awaiting Utter.

One of the first comments from Utter when he arrived at SRB was,  ‘I ran 42 miles for a Udaho Gold at the Salmon River Brewery.  What would you do?’

We toast his strength & determination in running extra miles for the reward of a good beer.  Cheers Craig!