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Roll out the Bombastic barrels

Bombastic is broadening its game with a new membership plan to fund a barrel-aged beer program, and the launch of limited draft distribution.

Since opening in June, the Hayden-based brewery has poured beer for special events and released a series of limited bottlings.

Now it’s taking signups for Bombastic Benefactors. For $150, members will receive eight exclusive bottles of barrel-aged beers – the likes of big stouts and barleywines aged in bourbon, rum, brandy and other barrels.

They also will get first dibs on regular bottle releases next year, access to exclusive growler fills, discounts on standard fills and a Bombastic Benefactors T-shirt.

Since the plan was announced last Friday, signups have already reached more than 20 percent of the minimum number needed to launch the program, says Bombastic’s Phil Hottenstein. The deadline is Dec. 31.

“These are the beers (head brewer) Matt (Skillicorn) and I really want to do. It’s the stuff we love to drink,” he says. “But they’re expensive to make.”

The membership pricing is designed to be a bargain while still providing enough money to support the plans, Hottenstein says.  “We just want to make these beers,” he says.

If it all comes to pass, members will receive their bottles at a release party sometime toward the end of next year.

In the meantime, more Bombastic beers will start showing up around North Idaho. Bombastic recently tripled the size of its brewing system – to a still modest 1.5 barrels (45 gallons), with enough fermenters for double-batching – allowing it to start selling smaller kegs to local bars and restaurants.

So far, in Coeur d’Alene, Paddy’s Sports Bar has the Murder imperial stout (brewed with cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa nibs, ancho chilies and cayenne), Mango Wisdom IPA is on the way to Bulldog Pipe and Cigar, and Victory Sports Hall/Crafted Tap House just received the Mango Wisdom, Sleuth porter and the plum and cherry Dazzle witbiers.

Enoteca in Post Falls, where Bombastic has staged several release events, also has the Murder, blood orange Dazzle and an experimental IPA.

The initial placements are laying the groundwork for what Bombastic hopes will grow into wider-scale distribution through contract brewing. Once there’s enough demand, it plans to pay other area breweries to use their excess brewing capacity to make bigger batches of more mainstream beers.

Specialty beers, like the Murder series – so far, there’s also been Attempted Murder (with only the cinnamon and vanilla) and Aggravated Murder (with maple syrup and cold press coffee) – will continue to be brewed in smaller quantities on the in-house system, with bottles released for sale online.

Like the membership program, special bottle releases are more common to breweries in bigger markets but less familiar around here, Hottenstein says. But customers are catching on to the idea, he says, and have enjoyed coming to the brewery on designated days to pick up their bottles, drink some beer and hang out.

“We have a lot of repeat customers,” he says. “They’re liking it, and getting excited about it.”