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New course for Slate Creek

Beer is about to start flowing again at Slate Creek.

The closed Coeur d’Alene brewery is preparing to reopen on a smaller scale, as soon as St. Patrick’s Day.

“It’s more than just a taproom and a brewery, it’s like a family,” longtime employee and new owner Danica Gilbert says of Slate Creek’s customers. “It will be great to get everyone back together.”

It’s the second North Idaho brewery to be revived by a previous employee. Downdraft in Post Falls, which announced its closure two days after Slate Creek did in October, was reopened last month by a former server and her husband.    

Gilbert was with Slate Creek since it opened in 2013, as a bartender, taproom manager, sales representative and occasional helper with the brewing. “I got to see all parts of the business,” she says.

After it closed, she says, “All winter long I’ve been getting emails and texts from people asking, when’s the brewery coming back.”

Gilbert finally worked out an agreement to buy the business along with a partner, longtime customer Andy Neels. Since he’s living in Alaska now, she’ll be running things as the sole employee for starters.

“I’ll be brewing, bartending every night, the whole show,” she says. “I want to be behind the bar. That’s what I love, seeing everyone.”

Slate Creek’s main 15-barrel brewing system was sold separately after the closure, so Gilbert will be brewing on the two-barrel (60-gallon) pilot system. She’ll start Tuesday with the 6 Weight IPA, to be followed by the flagship Norse Nectar juniper pale ale.

To help fill the eight taps (with more on the way), she’ll also be serving guest beers by such other area breweries as Mad Bomber and Post Falls Brewing.

Slate Creek beers will only be available in the taproom for now, though outside distribution could resume someday. Contracting with other local breweries to make beer on their larger systems is one possibility, Gilbert says.

“We’re kind of taking it slow,” she says. “We want to see how it goes before talking about going bigger and distributing.”

 If all goes smoothly, Gilbert hopes to be open for St. Patrick’s Day, or at least the following weekend. Event bookings by groups already are starting to roll in.   

“I have something booked every week for April already,” she says. “”It’s great to see the response so far. I feel so lucky, how many people have reached out and wanted to do things.”