Monday, September 12, 2016


By Bob Hubler

My wife, Nelda and I spent September 10th and 11th in Sun Valley visiting some of their local breweries and Tap Houses.

Sun Valley is nestled in the Central Mountains of Idaho, just south of Galena Summit and is famous for the Sun Valley Ski Resort and Homes of Movie Stars.  But it also offers some very good fresh brewed craft beer from it's four local breweries.  Residents and visitors in Sun Valley have been drinking local craft beer since 1986.  I will preview all four (and, yes, there are four) breweries in Sun Valley.


Sun Valley Brewery Facebook

Sun Valley Brewery Website

The Sun Valley Brewery in Hailey, Idaho is the oldest brewery in the state of Idaho, celebrating 30 years of brewing great craft beer for the local residents of Sun Valley.  Gordon Gammell opened the brewery in 1986 and was the owner and head brewer until 2005,

Gordon Gammell was one of a very few Craft Brewers in Idaho in the early days of craft brewing. The earliest craft brewers in Idaho started in smaller towns like Victor, Caldwell,  Coeur d' Alene and Hailey.  These pioneer brewers brewed their beer without the supply of many different hops and malt and on equipment that was manufactured locally.  They learned the craft without mentors to guide their way.  As fans of craft beer, we owe these pioneers a lot as the craft beer industry would not exist without their hard work and dedication.

Here are a few quotes from Gordon Gammell in an local article by Travis Purser in 2001:

“I saw it happening,” says the middle-aged Gammel. He was working as an exploration geologist for a minerals company in Alaska. That market was failing, but beer was in. He found investors and went into brewing in Hailey. The group produced White Cloud Ale in 1986, then a German-style lager called Sawtooth Gold and Holiday Ale. “We sold beer from Alaska down to the border of Mexico” and as far east as Florida and Chicago.“What I didn’t realize was everybody would want to get into the business,” he says. His investors, too, wanted to go big and pushed for high-end marketing and for an initial public offering. Gammel helped squelch the idea. “You go corporate and you lose control,” the master brewer says.

You can tell by their sign that Sun Valley Brewing  has been around awhile

The  Sun Valley Brewery moved to it's current location in 1993 and became a brew pub serving food to it's hungry patrons. The Brewery is currently owned and operated by Sean Flynn and his wife, Cynthia, who continue the great tradition started by Gordon Gammell.

This is the flight of Sun Valley Brewery Samples
Sun Valley still brews their flagship beer White Cloud Amber Ale.  One of their newest offerings is Cranky Uber IPA and one of my favorites.  But my favorite overall was their Blood Orange IPA.  The citrus and pine flavors were well balanced with the malt flavor.

The brewing equipment, some of it dating back to 1986:

35 BBL Fermenters

The Brew Kettle and Mash Tun
The Grain Mill
Check out the Grain Silo behind the entrance


The Sawtooth Brewery Facebook Page

The Sawtooth Brewery Webpage

We visited the new Sawtooth Brew Pub Saturday afternoon.  

Paul Holle and Kevin Jones opened the  Sawtooth Brewery in Ketchum, Idaho in 2011. It was located in the Bellemont Motel Building and had a tap room to serve the locals.

In February 2016, they opened a Brew Pub just across the street from their original location and moved their production to Hailey, Idaho where they opened a 15 BBL brewery that will have a tap room to service the Hailey area.  They hired a brewer, Rob Curnutt  to help run their new, larger brewery which will be able to which will be able to brew 10,000 BBL's per year and feature a canning line for distribution outside of the Sun Valley area.

Rob Curnutt
Nelda and I met Robert  Curnutt at the Idaho Brewers United sponsored Grand Teton Brewery Tour and Dinner last June during the Mountain Brew fest week in Idaho Falls. .  He was very excited about helping start the new Sawtooth Production Brewery in Hailey.  He brings twelve years of brewing experience from the world famous Stone Brewing and the not so famous Belching Beaver  Brewery; both in San Diego, California. He is looking forward to a snowy winter in Sun Valley.

The Sawtooth Brew Pub Bar
Dave Custer is the manager of the Brew Pub in Ketchum.  The new Brew Pub has 21 taps featuring 12 of their own brews and nine guest taps.  Great atmosphere and accommodating bar tenders and wait staff.

Among the beer in our flight at the Brew Pub was Freewheeler Rye IPA, my favorite.   Nelda's favorite was the Last Chair Stout.  I also really liked their Idahome IPA. Very Citrus with a slight piney flavor.

P.S.  The Sawtooth Brew Pub is a Beer Buddies Hub.  We got a dollar off of our pints.



The Warfield Distillery and Brewery Facebook

The Warfield Distillery and Brewery Website

Visit our first Blog about The Warfield Distillery and Brewery to see a little history on this distillery/brewery.

We had dinner at The Warfield (you really need reservations here) Saturday night and the place was hopping.  We got to set at a table on the roof balcony.

Warfield Roof Restaurant

View looking North

The beer that we tried
First off, we ordered a flight of beer.

We tried their Toothy Grin ESB, Miner's Canary Stout, Lucky 7 IPA, Thorny Thistle Scottish Ale, Storehouse Saison, Still Thinking Blonde Ale, and Short Pants Hefewiezen.

Most of the beer fit the BJCP guidelines for their category. There were three exceptions.

Their Lucky 7 IPA was not an IPA, more of a Pale Ale.

Their Short Pants Hefewiezen was unusual as they used citrus hops to impart a strong citrus flavor commonly  found in IPA's

Something was wrong with their Miner's Canary Stout.  It was murky brown and did not taste like a stout.  We figured  it must  have been from the bottom of the keg with trub mixed in.  I would like to try it again sometime to see a better example of this beer..

The Menu at Warfield is not an average brew pub menu.  Executive Chef Sean Temple has put together a menu rivaling any other fine restaurant in Sun Valley.  The Menu

We ordered the Peaches off of the Salad Menu and  Cold Smoked Salmon, Charred Octopus off of the Shared Plates Menu.  In addition we had Baby Back Ribs and a Barbecued Peach Desert.  All the food was outstanding.  The Service was excellent and our server even set up a brewery tour for us. Honestly, I would like to start at the beginning of the menu and work my way through.

My Ribs

After we finished Dinner, we met Cory Duffy downstairs and he gave us a tour of their brewery.

Check this out:

The Warfield Still
Warfield is the only brewery in Idaho with a Still. This beautiful copper still is the  first thing you see when you enter their brew house.

The brewery is part of the distilling process.  The fermentation is finished in the brew system, the "wash"   or "wort" is pumped over to the still where the distillation takes place.

The 10 BBL Brew system at Warfield has unique Mash and Lauter Tuns which are encased with brick on the bottom third of the vessels to help maintain temperature.
The Brew System

Gin and Vodka

These are the current alcohol offerings of Warfield, not available at the Distillery.  We had to walk down a couple of blocks to the local liquor store.

What a Great Addition to downtown Ketchum.  Most of their beer is good, but their food is wonderful, so much better than the average brew pub.  Service is great, all the wait staff were really devoted to making our visit a memorable one.  The  Atmosphere is Awesome at Warfield.

If you visit Sun Valley, you have to have dinner here and remember to make a reservation.

P.S. This is also a Boise Beer Buddies Hub, so remember your Boise Beer Buddies Card when you visit.  $2.00 off pints and 10% of Merchandise.



River Bend Brewing is often overlooked as they are a small micro brewery located in Chris Harding's House.   But they have been part  of the Sun Valley Brewing Community for over 15 years.

Chris Harding has a 7 BBL brewery in two converted bedrooms in his house between Ketchum and Hailey.   Because his house is located on a bend in the Big Wood River, he named his micro brewery River Bend Brewing. Many River Bend Brews are available on tap at various watering holes in the Sun Valley area.  We drank the Round the Bend Ale at the Power House in Hailey.  It was very good. Harding also brews  a Big Wood Bitter and a Pica Porter.

We would also like to give a big Shout Out to the Power House in Hailey. Seventeen Taps with local beer and some other rare beers too.  The Menu had some great gluten free entrees which really pleases Nelda (she gets tired of salads).


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