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BOISE -- A growing industry in Idaho is bringing in nearly $200 million and thousands of jobs each year.

You may have noticed more breweries around Boise. It's a trend that even city leaders are watching and are hoping will attract more tourists to the Gem State.

BREWERY BOOM

Cloud 9 Brewery, Boise's first nanobrewery, opened on March 17, 2014.

It s the newest addition to the growing brew scene in Boise and so far, they've been selling out.

The small pub is owned by Maggie and Jake Lake, a husband and wife who have come to love the challenge of creating organic craft brews.

Crazy, absolutely crazy, we've been 300 percent busier than we thought we would be, said Maggie. We have had to re-brew all of our staple beers and our seasonals because we have run out of beer.

Their focus is a sustainable, interesting taste in every pour.

I think it's where we come together, really quality products, organic and sustainable, and he's got the chemistry part, and I've kind of got that culinary throw some craziness in there, said Maggie.

Both work other jobs, and both were born and raised in Boise. They grew interested in organic ales a few years ago when craft brewing was cranking up.

Fifteen to 18 percent growth year after year for the craft beer industry, so its been kind of like a mining boom, Jake said. Everyone is in the gold rush because its fun. Everyone is really excited. People want to come out and try your product.

BOISE'S BREWERY BACKBONE

Less than two miles from Cloud 9, sits Highlands Hollow Brewery.

It's been open since the early nineties.

Megan Jones is general manager with a personal connection to the business.

The inception of Highland Hollows started as brass lamp back in the day, and then my grandpa leased the building to Harrison Hollow and that's what actually started the brewery, said Jones.

Jones says it s exciting to see new competition, saying it's not a brewing battle, but rather a reason for every bar to raise the bar, even one of Boise s oldest watering holes.

There's innovation there that's challenging for us, Jones said. We have our recipes that have been there for a long time, but when working with a new brewery, there is some innovation that happens more there so it's really fun.

THE ECONOMY OF CRAFT BREWS

In the late eighties and nineties, Boise had four breweries: Table Rock, Highlands Hollow, Sockeye, and The Ram.

Then, came Payette Brewing in 2011, and then came the big boom.

In the last two years, seven breweries opened: Kilted Dragon Brewery, Slanted Rock Brewery, Crooked Fence Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewpub, Woodland Empire Ale Craft, Edge Brewing, and Cloud 9.

And these breweries are boosting the economy. According to the Brewers Association, Idaho produced 21,700 barrels of craft beer in 2011. In 2013, that amount doubled to 43,073 barrels.

During the same period, the number of Idaho craft breweries jumped from 24 to 34 -- ranking the Gem State ninth in the country per capita.

Sheila Francis is the president of Idaho Brewers United. It was created a few years ago to unite the businesses and promote their brews.

I think Idaho had been often overlooked by breweries that were expanding, she said. They would choose Colorado or Washington or Oregon, kind of missing Idaho as a whole. So Idaho breweries were able to step up and show people that we do make good beer here.

It's an industry that the National Brewers Association says brought $173 million in to Idaho in 2012 alone and 2,258 jobs in the same year.

PROMOTING THE INDUSTRY

The Boise Chamber of Commerce is noticing the boom as well.

Caroline Merritt says they are trying to find new ways to attract visitors to their growing brewery scene.

The chamber recognizes that this industry is having a significant impact on our economy so we're focused on finding creative ways to attract more visitors to our breweries, said Merritt.

Merritt says their goal is to make it easy and enjoyable for out-of-towners to experience Idaho's craft breweries.

Beer tourism is such a big industry, and Oregon really has it down. In Bend for instance, they've created their own ale trail, and they do a great job of marketing it, and we're hoping to do the same thing, said Merritt.

As for whether there are now too many breweries, most say Boise is far from filling up.

As long as everyone is selling their beer and expanding, which seems to be the case, I think there's plenty of room, said Maggie.

And the boom isn't over yet -- another brewery, Bogus Brewing, is set to open in Boise next month.


This is American Craft Brew week, so many local breweries are hosting various events all week. For more information, you can check each breweries' websites (found on the map above or here).

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