Western Collective Opens Garden City Taproom, Plans Coffee Bar and Mercantile 

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Lex Nelson

Western Collective is a hybrid in more ways than one. The Idaho production facility for Austin, Texas-based Guns & Oil Brewing Co. ships a share of its beer back to the Lone Star State, but it's also a truly local operation, offering a selection of brews made with ingredients sourced nearby. As of Dec. 8, Boiseans can get a feel for the flavor in the brewery's brand-new taproom in Garden City—a space that will soon also be home to a coffee bar and western-themed boutique.

When BW stopped by Dec. 11, Bar Manager Dean Preedeedilok was manning the bar in the spare, industrial space. Chandeliers in the shape of the company's mountain logo shed light on a warehouse dotted with cozy, mismatched furniture, a giant American flag stretched across one wall and a cluster of shining silver brew tanks. Barley, the resident brewdog, wandered the floor, offering customers his ball to throw.

click to enlarge Left to right: The Pollinator blonde ale, Chaidaho brown ale, Ponderosa Pine Porter, Picabo Juice IPA and Dickshooter IPA. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Left to right: The Pollinator blonde ale, Chaidaho brown ale, Ponderosa Pine Porter, Picabo Juice IPA and Dickshooter IPA.
Preedeedilok was an open book about the company's brews, and when he served up a $15 flight of five samples on a mountain-shaped board, each beer had a story. The Pollinator blonde ale, for example, was brewed with honey from a farm in Meridian, and when WC visited, the farmer's young daughter brokered the deal.

"So we bought 250 pounds of honey from an 11-year-old," Preedeedilok said. A dollar from each pint of Pollinator—a light, easy-drinking brew with a sweet finish—goes toward saving the bees.

For the Chaidaho brown ale, WC brewers picked up bulk spices from India Foods on Fairview Avenue and experimented until they got the perfect cinnamon-forward flavor; and Picabo Juice, a juicy IPA with grapefruit and orange notes, was named for Idaho alpine skier and Olympic Gold Medalist Picabo Street. (Preedeedilok invited her to the grand opening, but she didn't show.)

Starting Saturday, Dec. 15, Western Collective will start serving Idaho-roasted DOMA coffee in the mornings, then transition to pouring pints (priced at $5-$8) in the afternoons. A mercantile/boutique selling Western-style brands like Pendleton, Stetson, Levi's, Wrangler and United by Blue is also in the works.

For now though, the operation is all about the beer, and WC Head Brewer Keith Forsgren sees turning out the perfect pint as not just serious business—it's an art.

"The only thing I guess I try to convey to everybody is that I liken my craft to an art form," he said, leaning over the bar. "I could do pastels, I could do watercolors, I could do stone, I could do metal—I do beer. I have four basic ingredients, I have an infinite amount of possibilities, and for me the greatest compliment is to see that somebody will have another pint." 
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