It’s a blue Christmas for fans of New Boundary Brewing.
The Cheney brewery will close its doors after Saturday following two and a half years of operation. Until then, all growler fills are only $8.
Along with several standards, the taplist includes owner/brewer Shane Noblin’s first-ever barleywine, released last Friday following six months in a bourbon barrel. With a big barrel character, it’s an easy drinker considering the 12.5 percent alcohol by volume.
“In the 20-odd years I’ve been brewing, it’s the first time I ever did one,” he says. “They take so long to age, even when I was homebrewing, I didn’t want to wait.”
Now time has run out for New Boundary. There are several reasons for the closure, Noblin says. While business was up the first half of the year, he says, it took a plunge in the second half.
Things have generally been slow in Cheney, Noblin says, and Spokane businesses have provided more competition than he expected when he moved from Alaska to open Cheney’s first brewery since 1910.
“We could have kept going,” he says. “It’s not like we weren’t making money. But it’s not as profitable as I thought it would be.
“I don’t think the product was bad, and I thought my prices were fair. It’s location, and marketing. I still get people who say, ‘I didn’t know we had a brewery in town.’ “
And the time demands grew tiring, says Noblin, who sometimes put in 14-hour days when he brewed and worked the taproom afterward.
He’s also an on-call firefighter, a career he’s interested in pursuing. And at age 42, he wants to spend more time with his wife and two teenage children.
“That’s probably the major deciding factor, to be honest,” he says. “It got to where I couldn’t go camping, or do other things with the family, because I had to be here.”
Noblin hopes to find a buyer for the brewery, with its five-barrel electric system. ”Hopefully somebody will pick it up and run with it,” he says. “We’ve got two people looking at it now.”
And he hasn’t ruled out a return to brewing himself one of these days: “I might not be done yet. We’ll see.”