not the buzz Starbucks hoped to generate

By Jim Stanford on June 10, 2013

Comments: 16 Comments

Coming soon to Square.

Back in April, a News&Guide report that Starbucks planned to open a store on the Town Square brewed up a venti-sized dose of dismay.

Java junkies were jittery at the prospect of the megachain draining business from local coffee shops. Critics appealed to the town government for help. One friend wrote on Facebook:

“WTF? Jackson Town Planners?!?! Seriously. Walgreens and now Starbucks. B/c we really need those chains right… They just fit right in with the LOCAL folks who already serve up great coffee.”

The town government has little regulatory authority to keep out chain businesses, other than issuing building permits to ensure codes are met. In this case, the building inspector rejected Starbucks’ initial application because the store would have exceeded capacity (49 people) and had entrance problems (being inside another business, Lee’s Tees). As of last week, the company had resolved those issues, and the town was set to issue a building permit.

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entire state hungover, following whiskey debut

By Jim Stanford on December 3, 2012

Comments: 12 Comments

People wait in line to purchase Wyoming Whiskey outside the opening party Saturday in Kirby. The spectacular launch of the bourbon has put the tiny town in central Wyoming’s Hot Springs County on the map for liquor connoisseurs.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead might as well have declared today a state holiday, after nearly every resident rushed out to purchase and consume ample quantities of his brother’s Wyoming Whiskey over the weekend.

The long-awaited first release of the homegrown bourbon became a marketing sensation unlike anything the state has ever seen. Not only were hundreds of Wyoming retailers shut out, but stores, too, were raided shortly after opening.

Jackson Whole Grocer opened at 7 a.m. Saturday and sold all 150 bottles in stock within 25 minutes. Yes, people lined up to buy whiskey at 7 a.m. The store had to cancel a planned tasting because there was none left to taste.

At the distillery in Kirby, a line of roughly three times the town’s population of 92 stretched from the party tent as people waited to buy a bottle, in a scene one onlooker described as reminiscent of Prohibition.

The question lingering like cottonmouth and a dull headache, though, is whether the whiskey lived up to the hype. The Casper Star-Tribune consulted a liquor expert, who described it as “one of the best bourbons I’ve ever tasted.”

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cheers to local brewers

By Jim Stanford on October 23, 2012

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Bottoms up for TMU.

As widely reported last week, Thai Me Up won a surprising two gold medals and one silver to lead Wyoming breweries at the Great American Beer Festival on Oct. 10-12 in Denver. Snake River Brewing Co. added to its hardware collection with one silver and one bronze.

The Casper Star-Tribune sent a correspondent to cover the festival (tough gig, eh?) who has written a nice feature about the evolution of craft beers in Wyoming, starting with the opening of the Brew Pub in 1994. (Otto Brothers in Wilson actually started first; the company now is Grand Teton Brewing in Victor, Idaho.)

For Thai Me Up, a self-described “nanobrewery” (for producing small quantities of beer), the achievement is particularly sweet. Owner Jeremy Tofte is a third-generation brewer, the Star-Tribune reports. The restaurant garnered gold for its Melvin IPA and 2×4 Double IPA and silver for its Cherry Freak fruit beer.

Fret not, cheap drinkers: The preferred mead of Jackson skids, PBR, also won gold in the American-style lager competition.

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Wyoming Whiskey available for pre-order

By Jim Stanford on October 12, 2012

Comments: 9 Comments

Update 10/13: The discounted bottles have sold out (see comment).

The whiskey is made with Wyoming grains and distilled in Kirby.

For more than three years, since Wyoming Whiskey first went into an aging barrel, thirsty drinkers have asked Dave DeFazio when they can taste the bourbon. “When it’s good and ready,” has been his stock reply.

Well, it’s just about good and ready.

The state’s first distillery is installing bottling equipment and expects to have its initial shipment of 2,500 cases in stores by Dec. 1. The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole is taking advance orders and offering a 20 percent discount, with 750 ml bottles priced at $40 instead of $50. Other retailers also have waiting lists.

On Dec. 1, DeFazio and business partner Brad Mead are hosting a party at the distillery in Kirby, Wyo., about a four-hour drive from Jackson, replete with tastings, tours and a band. Mead’s brother, Gov. Matt Mead, will help christen the brand. The all-day affair begins at noon.

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Exum throwing locals a rope

By Jim Stanford on June 6, 2012

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After a mild spring, many summits will be in reach earlier this year.

Temperature swings of 40 and even 50 degrees are not uncommon in Jackson Hole, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a transition from summer to winter weather as abrupt as yesterday afternoon’s.

Regardless, the high peaks should be accessible to climbers earlier this year, thanks to an early melt-off. And ski mountaineers still have a few weeks of easy gliding down to the Meadows in Garnet Canyon.

Given these opportunities, Exum Mountain Guides is offering two-for-one deals for residents on both sides of the Teton Range through June 30. The specials apply to day climbs, Grand Teton packages, Grand Teton prep schools and ski mountaineering (aside from skiing the Grand). Exum also is giving $99 mountain safety courses on June 16, 23 and 30 to teach climbers the basics.

The company is reaching out to locals while looking to keep guides busy until tourists arrive. “This is a great way for Exum to thank the ones who have been supporting us for years,” Exum president Nat Patridge said.

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