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The Gem State

Along with many other states in the U.S. beer began booming in Idaho as a result of the Gold Rush in the mid-1800s. Prior to the Civil War English immigrants dictated most of the beer styles that were available, which often included: ales, porters, and stouts. However, when German miners began populating the land, the Lager style became most prominent. Idaho’s first brewery was opened at the start of the 1860s in Lewiston, and by 1888 over 30 breweries existed in the state.

Unfortunately, Prohibition came early in Idaho, beginning in 1916, which greatly hurt the Idaho brewing industry. After Prohibition, craft breweries were hardly mentioned, with big national brewing companies ruling the industry. It wasn’t until 1984 that states began reviving the craft beer movement, with the opening of Snake River Brewing in Caldwell. Sadly, the brewery ended up shutting down less than a decade later in 1991, making Grand Teton the oldest and longest surviving brewery still in existence, which opened in 1988. The first brewpub, Highlands Hollow opened shortly after in Boise.

Momentous growth was seen in the Idaho craft beer industry in the 2000s, and today there are nearly 55 breweries in operation statewide. This puts Idaho 10th in the United States for breweries per capita.

There are a number of Idaho beer laws that pertain to: when beer can be sold, taxation of beer, and beer alcohol percentage. In Idaho, beer can be sold Monday to Sunday between 6 a.m. and 1 a.m., and bars in Idaho close at 2 a.m. Idaho beer tax depends on the strength of the beer. Any Idaho beer with an alcohol percentage over 5 % gets taxed more than the usually 6% sales tax. This comes out to about $0.45 per gallon. Most other states in the country tax all beers no matter the strength at the same rate. Another strange law is that beer cannot be consumed within 300 feet of church and school property lines.

Idaho is recognized for its Idaho Falls beer fest, also called the Mountain Brewers Beer Festival, which comes at the end of Idaho beer week. This year would have been the 26th year this Idaho beer festival has occurred, but has sadly been cancelled due to the current pandemic. The beer lovers of Idaho are hoping to continue the beer, music, fun, and festivities in 2021.

There are so many great Idaho breweries and Idaho beers. Some of the greatest craft breweries in Boise, Idaho are:
• Boise Brewing
• Sockeye Brewing
• Woodland Empire Ale Craft
• And of course the states largest brewer: Payette Brewing.

Crooked Fence Brewing in Garden City and Laughing Dog Brewing in Ponderay are also notable Idaho breweries.

We have had the pleasure of featuring beers from two of the best breweries in Idaho: Payette Brewing Company and Grand Teton Brewing Company in our craft beer subscription boxes!

Idaho Breweries