Zach Yunker

What’s your current position at your brewpub, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I’m the general manager of Sockeye Grill and Brewery [in Boise, Idaho.] I started here in 2003. My first job in the brew industry was as a “do all” guy for MJ Barleyhoppers in Moscow, Idaho. I bartended, served, and cooked, usually at the same time. That was back in the late 80s when the first wave of microbreweries was starting up. While I was in college, McCall Brewing opened up in the western Idaho resort town and I started serving there. Since then, I have worked here in Boise for Bittercreek Ale House and the RAM Restaurant & Brewery. I’ve always loved beer, and the brewpub industry was an easy fit for someone with cooking and service skills.

What’s new at Sockeye Grill and Brewery?

Since spring is here and warmer temperatures are around the corner, we are excited about the patio opening. We have great live music and wonderful weather at the pub this time of year in Boise. We are working on getting a second 5,000-square-foot pub opened up for the public on Boise’s west side. It’s a beautiful lodge-like facility with an open floor plan, patios, fireplace, and landscaping that includes fire pits, mature trees, and a stream.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

Here in Boise, it is that strong feeling of community, as well as getting to enjoy great craft beers and being a part of the immense growth of the industry. For a long time, we were one of only four Boise breweries. Since we opened our second brewery, there have been at least eight others as well as some wonderful tap houses and specialty craft beer shops that all support a new, exciting Boise beer scene.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewpub?

My girlfriend and I like to visit breweries and ale houses and try other beers aside from ours at Sockeye. We also enjoy Idaho’s outdoor recreation: skiing, boating, biking, hiking, and playing disc golf.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

I love a nice, spicy hot wing with a super hoppy IPA.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

I was privileged to coach a boys’ youth soccer team (ages 6 to 13). They were an amazing group of individuals that taught me more than I could explain in words.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

My go-to beers are Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and PBR. Weird but true! I am always game to try any IPA or American pale ale too.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

I was in Kauai last spring and got to spend time at Kauai Island Brewery. We had just completed (barely) a massively long and steep hike near the west coast of Kauai and stopped there to relax and rehydrate. The Captain Cooks IPA was very good and the whole experience was amazing.


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