Woodland Empire tour and interview – pt 2

The most exciting part of this new brewery will be the beers that come out its doors.  There will be a regular lineup including a drinkable IPA that is a pale golden, example of the style focusing on lots of fresh hop flavor and keeping a nearly sessionable  6.2%.  A bane of contention with Rob, he confesses, is that there are plenty of bitter IPAs around but not so many with as much attention paid to body, aroma, and fresh hop flavor.  The malt bill on this one is a simple 2-Row with a 5% crystal for sweetness.  Just enough to “buoy the flavor of the hop”. That being Chinook, Centennial and Cascade, classic west coast IPA varieties.

A traditional ESB will also be offered year-round.   Made with 2-Row, and Crystal-80 added for a little sweetness and color, hopped with the traditional noble variety, Kent Goldings. That’s it.  Clearly following the “KISS” principle here.  With a pretty low final gravity, it will be dry, but with plenty of nice toffee and fruity, earthy and peppery flavors.

A  3.4% ABV English “Dark Mild” will also be a regular at Woodland.  Made with Doma coffee.  A session beer, Rob describes it as kind of a  “baby porter”.  Sounding a lot like what BJCP calls a “Southern English Brown”.  A lot of “porter” character, toffee, chocolate, and the coffee, giving it some nice complexity.

OK, now quickly, name me any Belgian beers brewed in Boise….  times up.   Save for the long running “Big Creek Trappist”, a Belgian Trippel, (and a pretty good one) that Sockeye has been making for years, there really isn’t much.

Woodland, will have one.  I didn’t get the details on their recipe, but if it is somewhat true to style it will not be so session-able.  (Not that Woodland Empire feels particularly bound by BJCP style guidelines) Trippels are typically 8-9% but light to medium bodied and light in color.  Making them an interesting contradiction to folks not familiar with the style.  The fact that not many area brewers are doing Belgians is not lost on Rob and this could be a great flagship beer that helps puts him on the map, so to speak.


Seasonal drafts will be more classic styles, a “winter warmer”, for instance, that hopefully there is enough time for this year.  Limited releases and one-offs will include a lot of Saisons, and Belgians.  Planned is a Bock for next fall, and an Octoberfest will go into the kettles in March in time for the Autumn festival.  A Bohemian Pils with be the spring seasonal in several months.  A twist on this being that they will be using all Idaho Cascade hops instead of the traditional Saaz.  Thus making it an “Idaho Pils”.  An example of “flipping tradition on it’s head”

A big part of how Woodland Empire will be trying to separate itself form the pack is their quarterly release of special edition one-off bottles.  As far as this “Bottle Program”, roughly, the calendar is shaping up like this:

First is an an Imperial Porter with cocoa nibs and vanilla bean hopefully available this winter after it has conditioned in the bottle long enough.  Later in March or April, we will see a Berliner-Weisse that will likely be one of the first beers they make.  A non-GMO, Idaho grown white wheat, and Idaho 2-Row malt bill but with an interesting local twist.  This tart wheat beer will get it’s sour culture from the new local bakery in Garden City,  “Acme Bakeshop”.  And since Acme’s sourdough culture is a geographically unique “Boise Air” culture, you could call this beer a “Boiseinner-Weisse”  Just another example of tradition meets local artisan influence.

The Imperial Stout that they plan to brew this coming March includes malt smoked over cherry wood, and also cherries from Emmett will be thrown in secondary and then bottle conditioned for several months to let that smoke and bitterness settle down for a December release.  This, I cannot wait for.

Rob was explaining also that when they make wheat beers, like the Wit that he talked about, they will include some spelt in the grain bill.  While the percentage of this contribution would probably not qualify it as “gluten reduced”, the qualities that it brings to the beer make for an interesting fruity raw wheat flavor and it will be the spin that they put in that style.  Also, instead of the traditional orange peel in this recipe, coriander and local lavender from Silver Fox farms in nearby Emmett. So, next fall when they have their lavender harvest, expect to see a special bottle run of a Lavener-Spelt-Coriander-Wit.  Another example of tradition meets…  well… you know.

Some great stuff to look forward to, ambitious and interesting.  These beers that are planned are going to make ripples in the Boise beer scene and the sooner they start coming out the better.





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