How to not think local: “You are our competition, so we won’t serve your beer!”

“You are our competition, so we won’t serve your beer.” “I have to take care of my distributors first.” And my personal favorite, “I don’t care about the local economy.” All of these are things I have heard from locals in the valley about buying our beer. We have even had one of these accounts ask for a legal donation to their non-profit! (which we provided)

Why shop local and buy local products? I didn’t know that it was still a debate, but apparently it is. Keep money in the local economy with those that might be able to spend money at your place, reduce fossil fuel use for shipping, give the locals and the tourists what they would like. The list could go on, won’t spend time there, no need.

So let’s get down to why this is false logic. “You are our competition, so we won’t serve your beer.” What happens elsewhere? Let’s go to Colorado, Portland, Montana, California, even Boise! A new brewery opens, and they are making good beer. People serve it, they sell it, they are proud of it. They seek it out! They try to get it on draft!

Let’s take a trip to the Wood River Valley. A new brewery opens. Some distributors are scared, some are not. Some restaurants and bars are scared, some are excited. Locals and tourists are excited to see people they know personally make a beverage they like to drink… The local ski resort sees it as a huge asset and goes out of their way to buy their beer and makes them their number one craft brand. Some local restaurants pick it up, and it sells great. Others only see competition, not a benefit or asset.

We are local competition for retail beer sales. You caught us! We have a retail tap room. We sell beer directly to the public. So do all of the distributors. Hopefully we all get better because of each other though!

What is an establishment’s goal in not carrying local? If their goal is to make money, local beer sells. Our beer sells. Tourists want it, locals want it, it sells and will make you money. Maybe you have another goal, that you have less competition? That means your goal is that we go out of business. Wow, not a great goal. And we are not going to, and we hope that you don’t! We are not dependent on you buying our beer. Maybe you only want to carry beers that no one else has? Sorry, the same beers are available to all, and that is not dependent on us either. So, what’s left, your profits, your customers, your menu. How about your community! Maybe your goal is simply to not support someone else that can sell a product or service that you do. Your goal means that you would rather see a lot of money leave the local economy.

Some say “You are our local competition, we won’t serve your beer.” That happens in Ketchum, happens in Hailey, and in Bellevue. They buy other beer, and out of the $135 for a keg, about $38 goes to the distributor, of that about $7 goes to State taxes. The remaining $31 goes to a not Wood River based company. Of that, a percentage ends up in the pockets of the staff that lives in the valley and the local facilities that support them.

Or you can buy local, of about $135, about $7 goes taxes, a good chunk goes to production costs, federal taxes, and ingredients, and then the rest goes back to a local company, local staff, and local facilities. And donations to local events! That is a huge difference on every keg! And other distributors legally cannot give you anything more than we can: a keg and a clean beer line to serve it from. We even let you bring in food from other establishments so you can support them at our place.

There are some great beers available! We know that, we carry guest taps in our tap room because of that and buy from all of the local distributors. And if our beer is not good, don’t serve it- because of that. Have we had a bad batch? An under carbonated batch? Well, yes. So has New Belgium, Dogfish Head, every brewery has! Did we fix it, you bet. Let’s move on, or every person that thinks their burger and fries are cold or under-cooked should never return to your spot.

I also want to say thank you. Thank you to all of the spots that have carried our beer for a long time. You know who you are, and you should be proud, and I hope people support you because of it! Thank you!!

So let’s move past this “Competition” and focus on how can we keep making this valley great. We live here for a reason, because we love it, and we all want our own local economy to improve. Beer is only a small part of it, but that is the world my staff and I live in.

Are you going to stop buying Big Wood Bread because they now have two deli’s? Buying for them would be our pleasure. How about the goats that are for sale raised on our spent grain? Toni’s Sun Valley Ice Cream? Yeah, she has a retail side and wholesale. Coffee? We buy our custom coffee from Hailey Coffee Co. Java has great stuff, so does Grinder, Lizzy’s! Imagine the Boise beer scene, which we all know has changed dramatically in the last three years, if all of the Boise bars wouldn’t buy Boise beer because they had a retail front and are the competition, they would not have grown like they have. Instead of seeing them as competition, they see their breweries as an asset. I’d much rather be an asset, brew beer with you, and see our valley flourish than be your competition.

So what can you do? Don’t see a local beer- Sawtooth, River Bend, or Sun Valley? Say something, ask them why, don’t take excuses. See a local beer? Make it part of your habit, part of your experience of the valley! Thank those that are pouring it! Keep your money here growing the place that we all love. Let’s do it with beer, with bread, with coffee, with ski’s, clothes, meat, milk, ice cream. Let’s close the circle however we can! It does make a difference.

22 oz Bottles Released

We released 22 oz bottles of our popular Freeheeler Rye IPA and Sheepherder Saison to the general public this last week.  Current retail accounts carrying them are:


Atkinson’s Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue

Main Street Market

Base Camp Convenience Store

Bier:30 (Boise)


Also available in the Tap Room, go get yours today!

New Label Sketches_Rye_Final_COLA New Label Sketches_Saison_Final_COLA

Know Your Brewery Part I

Due to the recent surge in “craft” beer and a number of interesting happenings lately we have decided to start a new series called Know Your Brewery.

First we will start with the definition of the craft brewer.  The Brewer’s Assocation, who advocates on behalf of the approximate 2,300 and growing craft brewers in the country, defines it as someone who produces 6 million or less barrels a year, is independent and tradional.  A barrel (bbl) is equivalent to 2 standard 15.5 gallon kegs.  (We produced about 12 bbl in 2011, 300 bbl in 2012, anticipate about 600 in 2013 and will likely never produce more than 5k bbl).

So that’s a big difference right; to group those that make a couple hundred bbls with those that make 6 MILLION?  Well the limit used to be 2 million but Sam Adams was going to surpass that number and to keep their money and influence in the craft beer world the number had to be raised.  Otherwise they would have joined the big 3 (Miller, Coors, Bud) as a domestic.

I know what you’re saying, aren’t all beers that are made in the US a domestic?  And what defines a microbrewery?  And what is the POINT?!?  Well the point is I would like to re-define brewery classifications for you.  So here are my new guidelines:


Nanobrewery – a small, handmade, often start-up, brewery that produces less than 1k bbl/yr.  Example – the Sawtooth Brewery (Us!) but probably not for long. These breweries are often not sustainable at this size.

Small Craft Brewery – A brewery that is often contained in one building or city (not brewing in 4 different states) and produces less than 50k bbls/yr. Example – Payette Brewing in Boise who produces on the extremely low side of this number at approx. 2k bbls/yr and growing.  We hope to be in this category soon.

Regional Craft Brewery – this brewery produces between 50k and 6M bbls/yr.  Often has multiple production locations, sells in over 10 states, has a team of brewers, sales guys and utilizes a rather large marketing budget. Examples in order of size that are relevant for Idaho – Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Deschutes, Lagunitas, Stone, Alaskan.

Domestic Beer Maker/Seller/TV Ad Producer – annual production WAY over 6M bbls/yr, distribution in EVERY state and production across the US. Oftentimes a subsidiary of a larger, foreign country, parent company.  Example – Budweiser, Miller, Coors


So there you have it.  My guidelines for Knowing Your Brewery.

With all this anomosity you might think I have towards big breweries, I must say this; we certainly wouldn’t be here today without the work of the regional breweries and there is something to say about the challenge of brewing a light, American lager in multiple facilities and always having it taste the exact same but that’s not what this first post is about.

Just ask yourself this next time you sit down for a cold one, not do I know this beer/brewery/style, BUT what do I know about this brewery?  What do I know about the people who work for this brewery?  What do I know about the practices of this brewery?  WHY AM I SUPPORTING THIS BREWERY?

Thanks for your time-





Some more light reading-

-Micro imposters

Many “breweries” are often disguised as small, independent and a micro.  Lots of times this is far from the truth, take for instance Blue Moon who is owned by Coors and brewed in batches of quiptillion gallons at a time (made that number up).

In this article it talks about Goose Island, a brewery that sold out essentially.

First off Goose Island is owned by Budweiser (so is Shock Top).  Next, why would you make a beer named after an area code, file for trademarks for 15 other area codes where you don’t currently have an area code beer at, then brew it at multiple other locations outside the area code and sell it in completely different area codes?  Seems like you outgrew the beer name and marketing a long time ago and are now trying to pull a fast one on the consumer.  But that’s just my opinion.


-Budweiser – The All American Beer?

No, it is a subsidiary of a Belgian owned behemoth.  You are NOT drinking American despite what they tell you and the red, white and blue all over the can.  End of story.

From Wikipedia-
Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. is an American brewing company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Anheuser-Busch InBev (abbreviated as AB InBev) is a Belgian-Brazilian multinational beverage and brewing company headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. (HQ in Belgium?  Pretty All-American right?)


Thirsty Thursdays

Come join us every Thursday in 2013 for the tapping of a new beer at $2 off, and 3 other beers at $3/pint and $8/growler or pitcher!

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