FEATURED PROGRAM – March 13, 2012

Mike Naumann, Kootenai River Brewing Company


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Mike Naumann & Rotarian Wilma DeVore

As the owners stated on their website in 2010, “Watch us grow as we transform an historic building…actually a conspicuous pink and purple cinder block building…in downtown Bonners Ferry into a working brewery.

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Origination of KRBC

Learn about our stellar beer as we assemble the equipment and start making beer.” The brewery now provides Pilzner, Pale Ale, IPA, Huckleberry Wheat, and Seasonal Craft beers on tap with an amazing lunch and dinner menu. Put these two components together and you have the start of a very successful business.

In 1976, Mike Naumann emigrated to Bonners Ferry from central Washington, eventually settling in Paradise Valley. Up until his retirement as a Boundary County Sheriff detective in September 2009, Mike had worked for the U.S. Forest Service, Moyie mill, and the Bonners Ferry Police Department as their D.A.R.E. officer and marine detective. He spent some time as a missionary in South Africa, later joining the BC Sheriff’s office in 2001. 

The current brewing company is housed in a building that was built in the 1940’s that was destined to become a creamery but was used as for automotive repair and storage.  The roof on an adjoining building collapsed under the heavy snow of 1996-97 and the pink and purple building was abandoned. Mike and his brother bought the building in 2006 obtaining a business loan from a second bank that secured the loan with the Department of Agriculture (the first bank denied his loan because of Mike’s background and lack of experience). Kitchen equipment was purchased from the China Kitchen. The business houses a 10-barrel stainless-steel brewery system with equipment purchased from Budapest, Hungary and transported via cargo ship, train and truck to Bonners Ferry. The equipment consists of 8 storage tanks on the basement level and 2 steam-jacketed tanks on the first floor where the brewery process begins. From the first level, the product flows into the 8 tanks in the basement to ferment. The brew master is from Sandpoint. In addition to the tap, beer will also be available for purchase in 5 and 15 gallon kegs as well as a growler in rustic brown bottles with the company’s logo.

KRBC finally opened for business on August 5, 2011 to fulfill a need in the community, initially employing 43 part-time and full-time employees.  Currently, he has approximately 16 full-timers on staff in the winter and will be back up to about 30 in the summer.  The brewery business has been excellent, while the food side of the business is beginning to accelerate.

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