Triple Threat: Warfield Opens Ambitious Distillery, Brewery and Restaurant in Ketchum
Warfield Distillery and Brewery is one of the more ambitious businesses to open in Ketchum this decade. Three years in the making, this brewery, distillery and gastropub has given new life to the southeast corner of Main Street and Sun Valley Road, which has stood vacant since December 2013.
The space was once home to The Roosevelt, a cornerstone of Wood River Valley nightlife. Warfield’s four owners—couples Alex Buck and Heidi Giordano, and Ben and Jo Bradley—were driven by a vision to create beer and spirits in an approachable, minimalist space, one that rekindled memories of The Roosevelt.
“It’s such a vital corner,” said Buck. “Before we took over the building, the talk in the community was how sad it was seeing it vacant. Most people in this town have a story associated with The Roosevelt.”
And the Bradleys are no exception.
“My wife and I had our rehearsal dinner on the deck of The Roosevelt,” said Ben Bradley. “It was great to be able to give that building new life.”
Warfield is the only combination brewery and distillery in Idaho, and the process of applying for the necessary permits and licenses has been time-consuming. Kevin Settles, owner of Bardenay in Boise, blazed a trail through the regulations and red tape when he and Dave Krick opened the nation’s first combination restaurant and distillery in 2000. Settles’ precedent made Warfield’s application process easier, but not entirely seamless. For example, all distilling equipment had to be purchased and installed before they could attempt to gain a license.
“Everything has to be production-ready before you submit an application,” Bradley said. “You have to put the cart way before the horse.”
Warfield plans to begin offering its gin and vodka both onsite and in state liquor stores by the end of November. Warfield’s No Return gin is a botanical, terroir-style spirit with notes of sage and pine playing off the familiar juniper.
“It features botanicals that are endemic to the Northern Rockies,” said Bradley. “We’re really trying to capture the flavors of the Valley.”
No Return is suitable for sipping solo as well as for cocktails. The fruity B-Side Bramble, for example, combines gin with plum brandy, blackberries, a touch of lemon and brown sugar.
Due to the limitations of Warfield’s equipment, Bradley says he starts his vodka and gin with a neutral grain spirit purchased from Distilled Resources in Rigby. It arrives at 190 proof. Warfield then proofs, blends and further refines that base to create its unique vodka and gin.
Those looking for a locally produced whiskey will need to be a little more patient. Warfield will make theirs totally from scratch using raw local barley and malted barley, which the crew will then crush, mash, ferment and distill in-house.
“We’re going very traditional, very old-school,” Bradley said. “We’re aging it ourselves, all the way through.” He plans to start crafting whiskey in November, but the aging process means Warfield won’t be mixing cocktails with its own whiskey for another two years.
And of course, Warfield is also a brewery. Beer was a passion of Bradley’s for more than a decade while he was living on the East Coast.
“A love of beer started a homebrewing obsession,” he said. “It became a pipe dream at that point to do it for a living.”
This fall, Warfield debuted two housemade beers, the cheeky Short Pants Hefeweizen and the Toothy Grin British bitter, and partnered with Ketchum’s Sawtooth Brewery to fill out the rest of their taps. Bradley’s mission is to make mellow, European-style brews with a depth of flavor.
“Our goal is to make them very drinkable so you can have a few of them and the ABV isn’t going to knock you on your butt,” he said.
Buck said he was influenced by English gastropubs when helping chef Ryan Stadelman craft the restaurant’s menu.
“We tried to create something that you could go and eat every night and not feel like you’re going to have a heart attack,” said Buck.
Warfield’s menu features a mix of lighter items—fresh salads, panseared salmon, roasted Brussels sprouts—with more decadent entrees such as lamb shepherd’s pie and chicken and waffles with black pepper béchamel. Another hearty menu item is poutine, a French-Canadian favorite consisting of fries ladled with pinot gravy and cheese curds (duck confit is optional).
“It’s everything that’s good about the world,” Buck added.
Warfield is currently working with Idaho’s Bounty and Lava Lake Lamb, and will continue to add to its list of local suppliers. Bradley said he’s trying to find a local malted barley producer, which has proven difficult. Warfield’s whiskey, however, will be made with barley from the Bellevue Triangle.
“We’d like to keep it all super hyper-local,” Bradley said. “Our goal is to keep moving in that direction. It’s just a matter of finding the right people to partner with.”
Warfield’s focus on partnerships and fitting into the community has led locals to embrace it. Krista Detwiler—director of alumni relations at Community School, a K–12 private school in Sun Valley— hosted an alumni reunion at Warfield this summer. She says it’s a great new gathering space, like the Roosevelt but with a fresh feel.
“It’s trendy, modern, playful and offers a great balance of casual comfort and sophistication,” said Detwiler. “It’s very metropolitan meets small mountain town.”
Kate Wutz is a marketing and proposal coordinator for POWER Engineers and a freelance food writer. In her spare time, she can be found hiking with her dog, clumsily practicing yoga or writing about food on her blog, AlmondButterBinge.Wordpress.com.