Wildife Brewery: Award-winning westside beer now roaming freely on both sides of the mountains

By on January 3, 2018

Wildlife’s beer is now found far and wide, but the pub’s pizza and atmosphere are both well worth a trip over the pass. (Photo courtesy of Wildife Brewery)

The Tetons are on tap at this Victor pub and pizzeria. The popular Teton Valley haunt began as a home brewing experiment in Rick Harmon’s home garage in 2003.

By 2006, he offered take out pizzas and growlers. Two years later, the small operation added a dining room and circular bar. It’s now packed full of familiar faces on Wednesdays – the Mug Club Night – a huge draw for “the giant local crowd,” says Wildlife bartender Caroline Personette.

It’s what truly makes Caroline enjoy her job as a bartender and front of house manager. Popular among locals for her sassy bartending style and friendly smile, she says her favorite beer is the Bear Claw Black Ale because “it’s a less hoppy beer with coffee flavor.”

The beers rotate regularly, and the Zoe Sour recently won a gold medal for the Gluten Reduced category in the 2017 Great International Beer Competition. Personette describes the brew as “a super easy drinking sour with guava and hibiscus flowers.”

Suite different from the Mighty Bison Brown, Gem State Pale Ale and Hopstafarian IPA that the brewery is commonly known for, the Zoe is “a fruity sour, but not as tart as most sours can be,” said Personette.”

The brewery has earned a host of other awards over the years from the North American Brewers Association and The Old West Brew Fest.

The brewery and kitchen share a space with the kitchen at Wildlife.

“It pushes my limits and my abilities, and allows a lot of creativity,” Wildlife kitchen Chef Dave Smith said.

Best known for its pizzas, Wildlife’s ‘Husband and Wife’ pie is a blend of carnivore and herbivore ingredients on each half.

The carnivore side sports pepperoni, Canadian bacon, Italian sausage and extra cheese, while the herbivore side of the pie boasts mushrooms, red onions, red bell peppers and fresh tomatoes.

But as popular as the pies are, Smith is seeking to expand beyond pizza and plans to release a new winter menu. He and head brewer Leif Rotsaert are also considering hosting a brewer’s dinner with food and beer pairings.

“Having a place where we can make a living and still have fun is why we all live here. That is where it started with Rick, and how Wildlife still comes alive,” said René Ceja, who heads up marketing, sales and distribution of Wildlife’s infamous brews.

In 2015, Wildlife purchased a canning line and released the Hopstafarian Extra Pale IPA. Wildlife beers can now be found on both sides of the pass, and are distributed in Idaho Falls and Pocatello. PJH

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