It’s no secret that I’m a beer lover who is still learning the finer points of the process involved in taking base ingredients like water, grains, hops, yeast and making them into something far more magical like Porters, Lagers, Ales, or IPA’s. Love to drink ’em, but couldn’t make much headway creating one at this point. That’s part of the beer adventure though, in my opinion anyway. One doesn’t have to be an authority to enjoy beer, or to have great conversations with other beer lovers here in the North West in my experience. If you saddle up to the bar at any brewery, order a beer and look to your right and left, chances are you’ll find one or more individuals who are happy to talk to you in great details about their love of beer and where you might like to explore yourself to get a taste of the local flavor.
This was exactly my experience at the RAM here in Boise when I was invited to spend the better part of a day in the back watching the process from start to finish. The only difference being that I wasn’t sitting at a bar with these gents, but I was darting back and forth to stay out from underfoot of head brewer Jake and his assistant Cody while getting the skinny on their beer and what it takes to keep both RAM’s fully stocked and ready to pour.
First of all, brewing at the RAM starts EARLY; ungodly early in my opinion, but I’ve never been a huge fan of being someplace long before sun up. I pulled up to the brewery at just before 6:30 am and both Jake and Cody were not only already there but already had a batch mashing. While the brewery itself is in a fairly confined space when compared to some of the newer breweries in town with a more open warehouse design, every square foot of floor space is utilized and optimized for continuing to move beer through the process. There is always something happening in the brewery. If you find yourself enjoying a meal or a pint at the RAM, go ahead and press your face up to the brewery window, give a wave and see for yourself! Who knows, they might invite you back.
Spending the day with these guys, it’s clear that there is no shortage of passion about brewing, and drinking, really good beer! Having been up since 5 something, I of course didn’t get anything but coffee for breakfast before dashing out the door. Head Brewer Jake, being the gentleman and scholar that he is was kind enough to introduce me to the “brewers breakfast” which is drawn direct from the Mash Tun and was very reminiscent of liquid cream of wheat. I could definitely start every day with a mug or two of that before heading out the door!
While I have heard some move to dismiss the RAM as a more corporate operation with their 30 restaurants in 6 states, that I think, isn’t taking the long view. Never mind the fact that it’s still a family owned business. What was clear to me in the 8+ hours that I spent with Jake & Cody is that these guys have a love of beer and are absolutely a part of our community’s beer culture. They take pride in their work and are obsessive about keeping everything clean and on schedule to ensure their patrons always have their favorite beers on tap. From what I saw first hand, they have their timing down pat. Aside from the 6 standard offerings available at all RAM restaurants, Jake has quite a bit of leeway to get creative on the seasonal offerings adding some Idaho flare. The RAM also boasts an impressive collection of Award Winning beers of which I was not aware.
Frequent patrons, or those who are going to be, should look into the “Mug Club” for special member events throughout the year and discounts on food and drink in the restaurant. All in all it was a very productive and informative day spent with the fine gentlemen at The RAM. Who knows, maybe in a year or two I can collaborate on a seasonal! 😉
Check out the complete photo album from my day at the brewery!