I’m frequently asked, “So Penny, how did you get started brewing beer?” Well, it was supposed to be my husband’s hobby. My husband is an engineer and physicist and many of our friends were homebrewers. I thought brewing would be something fun and social he could do, so I bought him some rudimentary homebrew supplies. After blowing up a batch of beer all over his power tools in his shop, he said something to the effect of, “Woman, you’re the one with degrees in biology and chemistry. You brew the beer.” So I started trying to figure out what he’d done wrong—that was over 20 years ago.
Join Penny on a tour of Portneuf Valley Brewing Company
I homebrewed for about seven years and my passion for brewing new and interesting beers became an obsession. At some point, my husband remarked, “Penny, your brewing hobby is out of control. You need to get this out of the house.” About the same time, he commented that I needed to do something to bring in some extra income. I had quit my job at a nearby National Lab where I worked managing hazardous and radioactive waste in order to ride herd on our two precocious young sons. There were no other brewpubs or microbreweries in Pocatello, so I decided I would start small and see if I could turn my passion for great craft brewed beers into a career.
Thirteen years later, I’m still enjoying being a small independent craft brewer. The business has grown leaps and bounds. I just sold my original two-barrel brewing system made out of scrap metal to another startup brewer in the Midwest. I now have a very nice hard-piped professional three-barrel brewing system that is efficient enough that I can double brew ales or lagers into my glycol-chilled six-barrel tanks for larger production batches for distribution. Or I can single-brew small specialty three-barrel batches of beer for the pub. I can proudly say that my brewery is the third brewery in the past 100 years to be located in the 600 block of South 1st Avenue in Pocatello. It’s a great pleasure to be a part of such a rich brewing history in our community and be a part of the vibrant craft brewing community. Way more fun than managing radioactive hazardous waste!