BUFFALO, Wyo. – After meeting through their wives and their jobs, three guys in Buffalo began brewing beer together on the weekends.
Back then, they were home brewers — hobbyists, really. Just young guys who were relatively new to town, called to the area by work after growing up in other parts of Wyoming and stints working in other states.
“We brewed in my shop,” said one of the guys, Rob McCorkle, 41.
They got good at it, and dreamed of opening a brewery. After three years, they wrote a business plan.
They leased and renovated a spot on Main Street, raised $28,661 on kickstarter.com and got a bank loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Clear Creek Brewing Co. opened for business Sept. 22.
McCorkle, a project manager for Northstar Energy & Construction, Chris Jones, 34, a project manager at the same company, and physical therapist Mike Engling, 32, still work their day jobs.
Clear Creek Brewing is open Thursdays through Sundays. In the snippets of time in between their regular jobs and running the new business, they brew. They make six beers named after the local landscape: The Dam Amber, Tackle Box Wheat, Misty Moon Pale Ale, Steven Brothers India Pale Ale, Firehole Chili Porter and Bomber Mountain Stout.
The most unique beer is probably Firehole Chili Porter, named after Firehole Lake near Buffalo. It’s made with Ghirardelli chocolates. A pound of Japanese red chilis is added to a 105-gallon boil and removed before fermentation. The Firehole doesn’t burn, but you’ll sense a bite in the aftertaste.
You have free articles remaining.
The most popular is the Tackle Box Wheat, named after a fishing lake. It’s popular because it’s light and sweet.
Microbrews have a different taste and style than Budweiser or Coors. In Wyoming, microbrewers seem to just be getting started. There are now 14, according to Rocky Mountain Brewing News.
“Craft beers as a whole in the United States are exploding,” McCorkle said.
Customers to the tap room are both locals and travelers who spend time in Buffalo while hunting, fishing and recreating in the Big Horn Mountains.
The atmosphere is casual and relaxed but elegant, with details like brick walls that the owners exposed by removing plaster. It’s a place where hanging out is encouraged, an extension of those early years of brewing in McCorkle’s shop.
“You get to talk to people about beer and where they are from,” Engling said.
In the immediate term, the guys plan to refine the brewing and the business.
In the long term, their part-time passion may become a full-time vocation.
“That’s a ways down the road,” McCorkle said.