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US: Craft brew fad takes off

You won't find Rogue Brewery's unique John John Whiskey Barrel Aged Dead Guy Ale on tap in many taverns. In fact, only nine kegs of the specialty beer have been sold to Idaho drinking establishments.
One of those kegs from the Newport, Ore., brewery can be found at Pocatello's Flipside Lounge, 117 S. Main St.
Local beer enthusiasts can thank Patrick Bailey for providing that option, as well as a host of new craft beers he's delivered to the market as a sales representative with Hayden Beverage Co. Though Bailey acknowledges Pocatello beer drinkers still like their Miller and Bud Light, he notes by no means has the craft brew craze that's swept the nation missed Southeast Idaho. He also predicts a familiar Pilsner that his beverage company distributes, Pabst Blue Ribbon, will give the Big Three - Bud, Miller and Coors - a run for their money locally.
Hayden has distributed wine in the Pocatello area for the past three years, but the company entered the beer scene six months ago, when Intermountain Beverages sold to TEC Distributing based in Twin Falls. Some of Intermountain's breweries, switched to Hayden. Hayden - a Boise company that operates a Chubbuck warehouse - now carries labels including Deschutes, Sierra Nevada, Rogue, Ace, Manny's, Mac & Jack's and PBR.
Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewing Company, featured on the new Discovery Channel program "Brew Masters," has committed to sign with Hayden when the company arrives in Idaho.
"The craft market has just exploded," Bailey said. "Our company is helping this market to be on the front lines of the cutting-edge beers."
Bailey, 27, started as an entry-level worker with Hayden, stocking shelves in the Boise area with their products. He worked his way up the corporate chain to be a delivery driver and ultimately to assume the challenge of helping Hayden expand into Pocatello.
Bailey notes the craft brew fad has strong roots in the Pacific Northwest. That's why he's especially encouraged by another trend originating from that region.
"Pabst Blue Ribbon is the No. 1 beer in Portland and Seattle right now," Bailey said. "Everything that starts in the Northwest comes this way."
He said PBR has already started to catch on locally, and in his mind its quality is a cut above the competition.
"It's all barley beer. It's not a rice or corn mix," Bailey said.
Phil Spain of Intermountain Beverages won't disagree that the future is bright for PBR in Southeast Idaho.
"The Pabst was growing at 50 percent while we had it. Ever since, it grows leaps and bounds," said Spain, whose company distributes Miller and Coors products. "It's kind of a niche beer. A lot of the younger kids are drinking it. It's pretty easy to say PBR."
But Spain is also quick to note that sales of his Coors Light have been up this year, and Miller is still a strong performer. Spain believes the greatest momentum in the industry, however, lies within the craft brew sector.
"Craft beer sales are up. I don't think they're drinking as much, but when they're buying, they're buying a craft beer," Spain said. "It's amazing those are still growing. You're talking about a $7.99 six pack. I think when people spend a dollar bill, they want the best they can get for that dollar."
Spain notes Intermountain is also doing its part to improve the selection of craft brews in the Pocatello market.
Spain said the company recently signed a contract to carry beers from the Idaho Brewing Company in Idaho Falls, which should be in Pocatello restaurants and taverns soon.
"We just got our first shipment in," Spain said. "As soon as (the brewer) increases production, he's going to move on to Twin Falls and some other parts of the state."
26 Jan. 2011

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