POCATELLO — Craft beer fanatics and aficionados, brace yourselves — a new microbrewery is coming to the Gate City this summer.
Situated in the heart of what was once known as the Iron Triangle district in central Pocatello, Jim Dandy Brewing at 225 N. Second Ave. is currently under construction. Co-owners and Pocatello natives Hailee Matkin and Davis Gove, who are engaged to be married, expect to serve their first handcrafted Jim Dandy beers in June.
“We’re really excited to bring more craft brew to an area that seems to have wanted it for quite some time,” Gove said. “We’ve been really excited to see another brewery come to town and was hoping it would happen before finally deciding that we would be the people to do it.”
Gove and Matkin’s bijou brewery on the corner of Lander Street and North Second will boast an eight-month-old, seven-barrel system acquired from a brewery in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Capable of producing 500 barrels — or nearly 16,000 gallons — of beer a year, the system will eventually feed 12 unique tap handles at Jim Dandy Brewing.
“We will install 12 taps, but our goal is to start with six beers,” Matkin said. “We want to work our way up and also want to brew a bunch of different beers at first to see what people like.”
In addition to seasonal ales and rotating specialty batches, the first six beers will surely include an India Pale Ale, or IPA, a dark stout or porter and a light-bodied pilsner or session ale, said Gove.
He adds that brewing a decent IPA is something he both has experience with and sees a need for in Southeast Idaho.
“Brewing in Washington, it was all about the IPAs and I think it’s like that here to an extent, but the IPAs in Idaho can be super bitter,” Gove said. “It’s not all about the bitterness with an IPA. It’s more about the juiciness of the hops and getting that citrusy flavor profile.”
Matkin added, “And it’s dangerous when you get it right because it doesn’t taste like there is any alcohol in it, but it’s sitting at like 7 percent alcohol by volume.”
Jim Dandy Brewing will also feature the first crowler station in Pocatello.
“It’s a 32-ounce canned growler,” Matkin said in describing a crowler. “When you buy a growler usually it’s 64 ounces and it only lasts for two or three days, and if you open it you pretty much have to drink all of it right then. With a crowler, we can purge all the CO2 and get the oxygen out of the can, fill it with beer, can it and it will stay fresh in your fridge for months.”
Gove and Matkin will rent the building owned by Matkin’s father, Mark, who is the co-owner and official taste-tester for the brewery. Before the site was selected to house Jim Dandy Brewing, the old Frank’s Automotive building had been converted into a storage warehouse by Mark for items he sold on eBay.
The name Jim Dandy Brewing is both a description of the beers and a tribute to the infamous Jim Dandy Club that was located directly behind the building decades ago.
The Jim Dandy Club was quite the hangout for Iron Triangle residents and all Pocatellans alike, said Gove, adding that urban legends say it was both a bar and a brothel before it closed down in the 1960s. The stories surrounding the club include tales of cajoled out-of-towners, pistol-toting outlaws and a little of everything in between, Gove said. The Iron Triangle neighborhood was known for its ethnic and racial diversity and its tough reputation.
Gove said local old-timers “definitely know what you’re talking about when you mention the Jim Dandy Club.”
Matkin added, “The phrase Jim Dandy actually means excellence of its kind, and there is just so much history in this area with the name Jim Dandy that we thought it was a perfect fit. We are both really into keeping traditions alive and both of us grew up in this area so we thought it would be cool to keep some of the history alive.”
Homebrewers for five of the six years they’ve been a couple, Gove and Matkin are in their 20s and both have experience brewing commercially. Matkin, who graduated from Idaho State University with degrees in chemistry and microbiology, spent four years working for a brewery called Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon, Washington. Gove spent a year working for the same brewery.
Grain, hops, yeast and water are the four ingredients in beer, but Matkin’s science degrees allow her to understand how adding sulfates or chlorides can change the water profile, which in turn affects how the other ingredients react throughout the process.
“Anyone can make beer, but if you want to make really good beer that is repeatable and consistent you have to use a very specific process,” Matkin said. “When I got my degrees, I didn’t realize that I wanted to become a brewer. I love beer and I liked brewing, but I didn’t realize it would all come together. And what’s cool is (Gove) is really good at art and I’m really good at science, and brewing beer is like a mixture of the two.”
Matkin said the beer at Jim Dandy Brewing will be organic and non-GMO. The grain will come from Great Western Malting in Pocatello, the yeast from Portland, Oregon. And one of the hops is called the Idaho 7 hop, which Gove said is a new variety of hop that just barely hit the market and has become instantly popular.
“Also, we plan to donate all of our spent grain and yeast to local ranchers and farmers for feed and fertilizer since yeast is a great nitrogen fixer,” Gove added.
Jim Dandy will become only the second brewery in the Pocatello area aside from Portneuf Valley Brewing, which is nearby on South First Avenue. Matkin said a little competition will be healthy for both establishments and she considers any craft brewer a part of the family.
“You have to keep raising the bar,” Matkin said.
Gove added, “There is no reason why places in Oregon, Montana or Washington can have great craft breweries and we can’t have it here. When we lived in Bozeman, the downtown area was vibrant and we think that there is no reason we can’t have that vibrancy here, so we’re all in. And when there are multiple breweries in town I think more people would travel farther distances to come and enjoy them.”
A pipe dream and lofty aspiration shared between the couple, particularly during nights of revelry, has shaped into a reality over the last two years.
“Seeing our dream become a reality is definitely a big deal for us,” Gove said. “It’s a little surreal seeing it all happen so quickly, but it will be pretty awesome when it all comes together.”