There is a real passion for craft beer brewing in Boise.
I know you are still wondering why I’m in Boise, Idaho. It’s not for the potatoes even though that is what they are famous for. I’m here for the beer! In a twist I didn’t see coming we would be cycling to the first 3 brew pubs on our tour. I’m cool with cycling to the first two but after too much sampling I’m worried my cycling could get a little wobbly. Boise is a big cycling town though so I’m up for it. To help choose our stops on the tour our fearless tour guide Diane checked out the Boise Ale Trail for inspiration.
All set on our cruisers from Idaho Mountain Touring we are off! Imagine it, 4 bloggers, a camera man (photos to be posted on Facebook soon) and our tour guide from Tourism Idaho, Diane. A fun group for sure but a deadly menace on bikes.
On our way to our first brew pub we stop at the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial Park. Near the centre of town it’s a hot spot for contemplation and civic gatherings. I got a little Zen myself.
Ok I’m balanced and ready to cruise. Our first stop is The Ram, home to Brewmaster Jake and his assistant Jake where beauty lies in the hand of the beerholder A quick tour of the facility proves that beer making is part art and part science.
The reason we are at the Ram though of course is to taste some beer. With 6 brews available year round and 4 seasonal brews switched out on a regular basis there are lots of options available. Everything from a Big Horn Blonde, Buttface Amber Ale to a Disorder Porter there is sure to be something you’ll like. My favourite was the Belgian styles Saison Du Bois.
Next up we cruise through town to our next brew pub TableRock Brewery. In my experience 99% of the Brewmasters are men but not at TableRock. Here the beer is in the capable hands of one of Idaho’s first female brewmasters, Kerry. What also stands out is the great food. I ordered a grilled cheese that combined Goat Cheese and Swiss cheese + Honey and fresh Basil. Yummy If you are feeling adventurous try one of their Beer-Tinis. I tried the Beer-ga-Rita which was delicious!
From TableRock we cruise to the heart of town stopping at 10 Barrel Brewing Co. A massive beer on Tap menu will definitely please the serious beer drinker, in fact quoting one of the earlier brewmasters “10 Barrel brews beer that guys like”. Brewmaster Sean likes to say that if he didn’t brew the beer he’d still hang out at 10 Barrel. A Boise Blonde, Boise Pale, Warwick’s Best English Ale and the Peep Show were our tasters, with the Blonde being my favourite. Who doesn’t likes blondes?
There is more to 10 Barrel than just great beer though, exec Chef Paul is crafting a food menu that celebrates Idaho and the farm to table movement. We sampled some of their desserts which included a Strawberry Shortcake that made us all moan in pleasure. We also got to see the meat room where they cure their own prosciutto and smoked pork in aged wine barrels. Drool, drool, drool.
After 10 Barrel we have to return our cruisers because we are heading out to visit Sockeye Brewery which is a bit farther out than we can bike to. At 11,000 square feet the production facility we tour is by far the biggest so far producing over 7000 barrels of beer for 2013. Unique so far on our tour you can actually buy Sockeye beer outside of their brew pub at local grocery stores including Albertson’s and Costco. God you have to love America. Here I tried the Dagger Falls IPA which was very tasty. A few miles away from their production facility is their brew pub which we didn’t have time to visit but I did get to drive and discovered a new term “Hoppy Hour”.
By now we’ve reached dinner time so we head over to the newly opened Crooked Fence Barrel House. Unfortunately the Barrel House is still working the kinks out as they only just opened so what stood out for me wasn’t the beer but the sausages that I ate. Made in house the Barrel House Platter featured Chorizo, Italian Hot & Bratwurst sausages. very tasty.
At Barrel House I even got to see some extreme weather, sunshine, torrential rain, lightning and then sunshine again. This all transpired in 15 minutes and at the end we got a beautiful rainbow.
For our last and final stop we head over to one of the new players in the Boise craft beer scene but they are by no means junior in scale or ambition, Payette Brewing Co. At only 29 years old Payette’s founder and dream maker Mike has come onto the scene fast. In the 2 years since opening they are already producing 6000+ barrels a year with plans to go bigger. At the front of the production facility Payette has a tasting room that is more pub than tasting room. Packed with people it even has a rotating food truck parked out front if you get hungry, different day a different food truck.
To end our tour at Payette with a Saison beer in hand I get to see bottling in person. I couldn’t resist my own “I Love Lucy” video but unfortunately chaos did not ensue, these guys are pros after all.
That is it. 1 day and 6 different breweries. I swear I gained 10 lbs just in this one day. What really stood out for me throughout the whole day was how much everyone we met loved what they do. There is a real passion for craft beer brewing in Boise and I’m glad I got to experience it for myself.
This is just the first day of my adventure though. Next up is the wine scene. I can’t wait.
Remember, drink responsibly because Beauty is in the hand of the Beerholder.