HAYDEN - They know bombs and brews.
Three U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal technicians are on schedule to open a new craft brewery in September or October at the former Copa restaurant location.
It's to be called Mad Bomber Brewing Co., and the owners are now seeking state and federal permits to open at 9265 N. Government Way. The Copa closed in May.
Initially, Mad Bomber will be brewing using a system that can produce approximately 40 gallons of beer per batch. The plan is to have eight taps at the bar.
The brewery will occupy approximately 1,600 square feet of leased floor space, providing seating for 50 to 60 people, including casual fireplace seating. The beer production will be visible to customers, said Tom Applegate, one of the owners and the head brewer for Mad Bomber.
There will be a bomb suit on display along with similarly themed decorations, and photographs of bomb disposal technicians in action.
Applegate, a 26-year-old father of four and a new Rathdrum resident, left the Army on June 16.
"I'm fresh out," he said Thursday. "Long enough to grow facial hair and look in the mirror in the morning and realize I'm not in the Army."
His partners include his wife, Stephanie Applegate, and John Taylor and Alan Longacre, both of whom remain active duty and are stationed in Washington state.
Nicholas Reid, who was an original partner and supporter of the brewery, was killed by an explosive device in December 2012 in Afghanistan.
Applegate, a Florence, Mont., native, joined the Army in June 2005 and spent a year in Afghanistan from March 2010 to March 2011.
"My favorite part of the job is that I'm not out there killing people - it's our job to go take apart things that hurt people and save people's lives and making a difference," Applegate said.
His parents, who are brewers, got him hooked a few years ago. He has devoted a little more than three years to developing recipes and designing equipment.
"It's a lot of fun to be able to create something," he said. "The best part is to share it with people."
He said the strength of the craft-beer market made opening the brewery an attractive business venture.
Partner Alan Longacre has about a year left in the Army, then he will join the Applegates operating the brewery.
The beers will follow typical American styles - pale, brown, porter, India pale ale (IPA), and amber. The partners don't have plans for bottling or filling kegs.
Several of the Mad Bomber beers will be named for friends who were killed while disarming explosive devices.
The St. Nicholas Pale will be named after Nicholas Reid.
The Fatman IPA is named after Kenneth W. Bennett, a bomb squad team leader and a family friend who was killed in Afghanistan in November 2012.
Applegate said he has traded the risk of explosion for the risk of small business.
"We moved out here with the intention of starting a brewery and not really having a fall-back plan," he said. "We're going to be brewing or we're probably homeless."