From Boeing to Beer

Tonight, Mike Francis of Payette Brewing talked to the small crown gathered at the public library on Collister about his transition from Boeing engineer to running a brewery that has become one of the rising stars in the Boise area the past couple of years.


As part of the recent and ongoing Boise craftbeer explosion, Payette is setting itself apart with a full on canning line and a lineup of clean professional brews that are really starting to populate an take over cold boxes all over the treasure valley.  Their modest but tidy and modern tap room seats a couple dozen and nearly every seat is in full view of the glorious fermenters lined up in the back like North Dakota missile silos.

It was a 7PM event so I figured I’d start the night off right, hitting Meridian’s Slanted Rock for their red ale and then since Kilted Dragon was on the way to the library…kind of… I stopped by there and tried their new IPA “MoSeMoDo”  Have to keep up on new Boise beer as I have a responsibility to both of my readers.


We packed out the Sycamore room in the back of the library with 30-40 beer enthusiasts and listened as Mike told us his story of how he was and is a Idaho guy, but moved to the Seattle area to attend UW for his Industrial Engineering degree.  This got him a job at Boeing right away but he soon tired of watching 737s roll out of the Boeing plant day after day, and finally gave in to his calling of brewing.

The Chicago based Siebel Institute learned him up on this new field and he brought it back to Boise where he finally set up shop in Garden City after a lengthy search for the right space.  Stories about landlords going into foreclosure, main sewer lines in the wrong place, brewing equipment suppliers flaking out, and the advantages of sloped floors were shared, and the importance of a good business plan was also brought up.

As a brewer that has gotten in early and pretty much kicked off the areas transformation, as a significant and relevant beer town, Payette has taken the role of supplier of restaurants and grocery stores with their higher capacity and canning line.  Not really a
“BrewPub”, other places in town will produce more one-offs and experimental esoteric beers.  Mike and his crew seem fine heading in the direction of filling coolers and shelves in the region with their Outlaw IPA, North Fork Lager, Mutton Buster Brown, Payette Pale and possibly others in the future. Distribution is state wide and also as far as Pendleton, OR currently with a growing territory I’m sure on the horizon.

After an hour or so we all moved next door to a new cafe’ and coffee house called Salt Tears, where Mike fielded some more questions and poured tasters of some of Payette’s beer.  I got a chance to ask him if his business/marketing model allowed for enough experimental brewing to satisfy the creativity that most brewers feel the need to exercise.  His monthly “Ales of no Return” series rotation of seem to fill this for him.

It was fun to get to know Mike a little and gain some insight on his early trials getting this thing to fly.  He is still having fun, even though he confesses he doesn’t get to brew much these days and business seems to be going well.  Just a little get-to-know-you and making a connection with the man behind the beer.



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