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Nov 28, 2014

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Table Rock Brewpub

By Gregg Smith

When you mention Idaho, you usually get one of two different responses, either "What state is that in?" or "Is that one of those big square western states?". At best your listener has visions of either high desert or mountain men; and despite the vast tracts of both barley and hops (especially near the great duck range of Parma, Idaho) almost no one thinks of it as an area for brewing. Yet nestled in the attractive state capital of Boise is one of the country's newest brewpubs, the Table Rock.

Located between the state capitol and Boise State University it resides in an unassuming adobe painted, one story building. As you walk in the door a small ante room opens into a modern airy space with a western influence. Along the back wall is the bar which, in the requisite fashion of brewpubs, allows patrons to face well displayed aging tanks. On either flank are tiered areas which make up the dinning areas.

The brewing operation uses a JV Northwest system consisting of a 483 gallon mash-tun and a 548 gallon brew kettle along with five finishing tanks. Table Rock brews are usually produced in the range of just under 4% alcohol starting The brews themselves are all natural and contain no artificial adjuncts.

Brewmaster Terry Dennis has his roots in the local home-brewers the "Ida-Quaffers". The marketing analysis performed prior to opening indicated that the area would support sales of approximately 27 barrels. Like many establishments they find themselves with the mixed blessings of success and have far exceedced those estimates. Fortunately there was room to expand and now they are working on a separate brewery and bottling line. Till the bottling plant is ready their outside sales consist of growlers, a take home beer jug.

Among the standard beers is the popular "Depot Gold" a light ale, with a delicate but distinct hops nose and taste. Another brew "Table Rock Red" is a good example of the American Amber style that presents a malty aroma with light hops in the nose; the taste is a fine mingling of the malt and assertive but not overpowering hops which fades in a dry finish. The "T.D.'s Nut Brown Ale" is a good rendition of the Brown Ale style with a mild nose and a hint of nutty flavor and low hopping in this classic thirst slacker. In addition, the Table Rock produces "brewers whims" as specials. including a Raspberry Ale, with a nose that lightly suggested raspberry. It gave a deliciously complex berry\malt taste which continued in its distinctive fruity finish. Samplers of the beers are available.

The all grain brews use hop varieties of Clusters, Williamette, and Mt.Hood. Carbonation is generally natural; however, some CO2 is injected on occasion to adjust any inconsistencies. Thankfully this is always handled with a very light touch. After establishing their spot in the market (and educating their patrons?) they have introduced their versions of Wheat, Stout, and, of course, a potato beer.

The food, with ample western appetite sized portions, is yet another reason to visit. Among the tempting offerings are Quesadillas with scallions and chorizo, tender onion rings, generous well made hot and cold sandwiches, and several varieties of beef. A good bet is the grilled chicken sandwich.

The Table Rock is exactly the type of brew pub beer lovers look for in their travels. The only disappointment would be those who show up expecting a mug clanking, foam sloshing, cowboy hootin', six gun shootin', Saturday night display of trail hands liberating their pay. Sorry, the west is a bit more sophisticated today. But, it's good to know that fine brew is waiting, fresh, chilled, and in a welcoming atmosphere.

Gregg Smith

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