No tricks, just good beer - Coeur d'Alene Press: Business

No tricks, just good beer

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Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 1:33 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Matt Morrow was 17 and a junior in high school when he landed a job at a brewing company in Durango, Colo.

He found his direction in life.

"I knew I didn't want to do law school anymore," he said, smiling.

Nope. Forget prepping for courtroom arguments. Don't think about filing briefs or seeking continuances.

Instead, 10 years ago, Morrow commenced studying the craft of making beer.

And that's worth raising a glass or two over.

"Once I started, there was no turning back," he said.

The 27-year-old is president and brew master of Trickster's Brewing Company that's holding a grand opening in Coeur d'Alene on Saturday.

The brewery, 3850 N. Schreiber Way, will be offering tours and tastings from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will be 25 cents for the first pint or taster set, and "after that, we'll just kind of have to see," Morrow said.

Trickster's plans to produce around 120 barrels a month, maxing out at 1,400 a year, with room for expansion.

Morrow said there are around 150 establishments in the immediate area that serve beer, so it's clear there is demand for good beer.

"It doesn't take too much to go through 1,400 barrels a year," he said.

The distribution area, to start, will be the Lake City.

"We won't start shipping to an outside area until we know Coeur d'Alene's been taken care of," Morrow said.

Trickster's has 2,800 square feet of space for the brewery, and another 900 or so for the tasting area.

The brewery will initially offer four year-round beers, and several seasonal beers in kegs and bottles.

There's Cougar Bay Blonde, described as a light ale for "easy drinking."

Then there's the Bear Trap Brown, basically an English brown ale.

"We designed it to be a little bit hoppier than your typical brown ale," he said.

Bear Trap Brown is a result of the brewery being in Idaho, between Washington and Montana.

"Washington likes hoppy IPAs. Montana likes its brown. That's where the hoppier brown came from. We're right in the middle," Morrow said.

There's also the Coyote Morning IPA, "the one to let the hop shine out in a beer."

In early January, look for an amber ale.

Morrow, glancing at kegs stacked near the rear door, is anxious to open.

"We need to get some kegs out the door," he said.

The brewhouse is an 8.5-barrel, three-vessel system designed to brew 24/7.

The process to create great beer involves a 450,000 BTU boiler that produces steam to heat the tanks. There are hops, yeast and malts. Grain is crushed and mashed, starches are converted to sugars. There's boiling and cooling, fermenting and filtering.

The process takes weeks, and in the final steps, the beer flows into a bottle or a keg.

Morrow watches over the process, start to finish. He said there is one key to making beer, which might surprise most: A clean environment.

"Cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness," he said. "We clear our floors just about daily. You've got to keep it cleaner than a hospital in here."

"I make sure everything gets done the way that it should, and cleaned the way that it should," he continued. "Much of our job is actually cleaning stuff. It's a lot of clearing."

And plenty of taste trials and evaluations .

"You tweak one thing at a time until you get the flavor you're really looking for," he said.

How does he know when he's got it? When the beer is just right?

"You just know. It hits your palate just right, you know that you want more of it."

Morrow, an outdoorsman who loves camping and hiking, said he started at the bottom with Ska Brewing Company in Durango, which today produces around 15,000 barrels of beer each year. He worked his way up over the years, mastering each step in the process.

He and others were looking for a place to open their own brewery and settled on Coeur d'Alene.

"We're excited to be here and sharing our product with Coeur d'Alene," Morrow said.

The name Trickster can be traced to Morrow's Native American heritage.

The Choctaw Tribe member said that to most Native Americans, Trickster is Prometheus, who brought fire to them, and was involved in their creation story.

Tribes have different forms for Trickster, such as a raven or crow, with the most common being the coyote. Thus, the coyote is the symbol for Trickster's Brewing Co.

"We figure some day we'll spin a story that Trickster one day was making porridge, forgot about it, and voila, he had beer," he said.

Trickster's Brewing Co. is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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  • truthful1 posted at 11:22 am on Sun, Dec 2, 2012.

    truthful1 Posts: 554

    Yee haw! Good luck, guys

  • BoxcarBill posted at 11:41 am on Sat, Dec 1, 2012.

    BoxcarBill Posts: 1074

    Good luck. This area is very fickle when it comes to appreciating good food and drink. Maybe you can hit upon some offerings that will please them and not go the way of Coeur d'Alene brewing.

  • Asteroid Genie posted at 10:50 am on Fri, Nov 30, 2012.

    Asteroid Genie Posts: 1

    This is fantastic. It is great to have young entrepreneurs come to our community to start a dream like this. Great Story! Best of luck!

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