A Craft Ale Trail Through Western Idaho. Harvest Idaho – One Bite at a Time

For a state that is one of the country’s leading producers of hops and barley, only 30 beer-making businesses scatter across Idaho, close to its peak in 1888 when Idaho had 33 breweries across the territory.  Pre-prohibition the excitement was fueled by the unquenchable thirst of camp miners in search of gold.  Now, the excitement is the flavors of Idaho’s liquid gold.

The challenge for Idaho craft breweries has never been variety; it’s keeping up with demand.

As half the team behind MickDuff’s Brewing Company in Sandpoint, Duffy Mahoney is responsible for the popular local beer called Tipsy Toehead Blonde. Pale in color and lightly hopped with a delicate, floral variety called Tettnang, it’s an easy ale that makes for a great way to cool down after a day spent fishing or paddling in the sun on Lake Pend Oreille. Mahoney keeps as many as nine beers on tap, from a refreshing American-style Hefeweizen to an Irish stout aged in toasted American oak infused with bourbon.

Beginning at MickDuff’s in Sandpoint (a city that’s also home to Laughing Dog Brewery), true brew buffs can follow an ale trail that leads south across the Palouse to M. J. Barleyhoppers in Lewiston, on to the Salmon River Brewery and McCall Brewing in McCall, with a final stop in the Treasure Valley to sample the suds at Highlands Hollow Brewhouse, Payette Brewing Company and Sockeye.

“The Pacific Northwest is a brewers dream,” explains Matt Ganz of Salmon River Brewery. Ganz is a fifth generation brewer; his ancestors started Rainier Beer in Seattle in the 19th century. “The vast majority of our malt barley, hops, yeast, and of course water comes from this region.”

Salmon River Brewery

Salmon River Brewery


In addition to Udaho Gold, Salmon River’s crisp golden ale, this brewery regularly pours multiple IPAs, an English brown, an experimental porter called Buzz Buzz that uses organic, shade-grown coffee, and a barleywine.

Payette Brewing in Boise has learned that Idahoans are a thirsty bunch; it’s been so well received that it’s already more than doubled the original production capacity since it opened in May 2011 and began canning operations on July 23, 2012.

The magnificent Idaho scenery between brew cities? That’s another chapter.

Upcoming Events

Sept 1-3: Fall Fest Feat at Schweitzer
Sept 8:     Mine to Vine at Silver

Idaho Beer Trivia


Adapted from Northwest Travel Magazine, nwtravelmag.com, Ben Keene.

Harvest Idaho , One Bite at a Time
Western Road Trip
A Craft Ale Trail Through Western Idaho
Celebrate! Events
Simply Irresistibly Sweet Pears Recipe
Hello Wine World! Take a wine tour along the Snake River Valley AVA.
Bountiful Beautiful: A 300-mile Culinary Odyssey Through the Inland Northwest
Locavore’s Thanksgiving
The Spirits of Idaho

  • Karen Ballard

    Interesting about Matt’s brewing pedigree. Growing up in Seattle we called Rainier Beer, Vitamin R and this was an underlying inspiration to our Vitamin ID campaign. Perhaps we can get all the brewers in Idaho to come up with some “elixers”