By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
VICTOR, Idaho – Although the brewery is now in Victor, Idaho—not far from the state border—Grand Teton Brewing was actually Wyoming’s first microbrewery when it was founded in 1988. Charlie and Ernie Otto originally named the establishment Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company.
The brothers, of German-Austrian descent, were passionate about good-tasting, small batch brews. At the time state law prohibited breweries to act as retailers, preventing them from having a storefront for their operation. Charlie spent three years of grass roots organizing to change legalization of brewpubs and finally, in 1992, Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company opened Wyoming’s first brewpub in Wilson.
Theirs was the first malt beverage manufacturer permit issued in Wyoming in 35 years. They presented their flagship amber, the Teton Ale, to local draught establishments in 1989 and the Old Faithful Ale and Moose Juice Stout soon followed.
It was also around this time that the Otto brothers came across a European lidded tin-pail known as a “growler” and reintroduced it in a modern, 64-ounce glass jug version. Growlers can now be purchased and filled at breweries all over the country.
While at Grand Teton Brewing, I snagged a growler of their 208 Session Ale. After a warm day on the trails and a high of 95, the light, crisp wheat ale hit the spot like any good recovery drink. It’s drinkable with a light body and citrusy in character. If you’re not a fan of citrus beers, however, don’t let that deter you, as the flavors are subtle and smooth.
The 208 is noted on the brewery’s website as “brewed to be Idaho’s beer.” It is brewed with 100 percent Idaho barley, Idaho hops and pure Idaho spring water. It’ll keep your evening mellow with an ABV of 4.7 percent, and has won silver in the Great American Beer Festival awards.
Although the brewery changed hands and names in the early 2000s, it has allowed them to grow the full annual production to 10,000 barrels of beer and a full bottling line, allowing for distribution throughout Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Utah. With its friendly staff, historic roots and long list of available brews on tap, the brewery in Victor is a must-visit if you’re heading to Jackson or Grand Targhee for your recreational fulfillment.