The Treasure Valley is home to a number of beer connoisseurs, people who prefer a high-quality brew, according to Joe Lindsey.
Lindsey, along with his partner Rich Burns, owns and operates Brew Haven, located at 1795 Vista Ave. in Boise. The partners opened the store last November, selling 270 different brands of beer: high-end imported beers from around the globe, familiar-brand domestics, and craft beers from Oregon and Washington. They also sell everything needed for brewing beer at home, including how-to manuals, equipment, and a root called rhizome for growing hops.
It all fits in with the do-it-yourself trend. “It’s similar to home-cooking,” said Lindsey, drawing a comparison between home chefs who cook with the intent of eating better quality, tastier food and the home-brewer who seeks to drink a better, more satisfying beer.
Two-thirds of Brew Haven’s sales are to people wanting to make their own beers, Lindsey said.
Lindsey and Burns, who self-funded the company, still work other jobs and share shifts at the Vista store. What, for them, is the appeal of a home-brew business?
“It’s just fun,” said Lindsey. “I’ve been brewing for a while, and I got to turn a hobby into a business.”
“He taught me to make beer, and I taught him how to make wine,” Burns said. “I told him, ‘Don’t teach me how to make pizza!'” (There are also some fine wines for sale at Brew Haven.)
The partners have both an on-site and off-site beer and wine license, meaning they can sell beer and wine for people to take home, or sell beer and wine to drink on the premises – and for that, they have an area with tables and chairs.
The men said there are other places in town that sell imported beers, as well as a couple of businesses in the valley that sell home-brew products. But, they said, they are the only business that sells both.
The men believe there is a lucrative market for beer and brew products in the area. “People want nicer beer. There’s a ‘beer geek’ crowd,” Lindsey said.
Burns said area microbreweries have helped stoke the desire for better beer.
Brew Haven holds classes once a month on how to make beer at home. Brewing clubs hold meetings at the store, and Beer Judge Certification Program classes are taught there as well.
Burns said there is a broad sprectrum of beer fanciers in the Treasure Valley. “We get working class to engineers and high-level managers; we had a doctor come in,” he said.
The men depend a lot on walk-in traffic and word-of-mouth and said business is going well. They have goals for their enterprise.
“We want a couple of other stores out of state,” Burns said.
“But we want to see how this ‘beast’ goes first,” said Lindsey.