More shade. Taxi service. More parking. Fewer people. More rare beers than ever.
That is what the Barley Brothers Traveling Beer Show is promising Treasure Valley craft beer fans this year as the festival moves from the green grass of the spud state’s capital city to Meridian.
The festival has been an aesthetic success since its debut in 2009 as the BoiseBeerfest, when as many as 20,000 people filled Ann Morrison Park and were able to sample about 100 different craft beers from local and regional craft breweries. The event grew for the next two years — more beers, more imbibers, lots of bike-riding customers and a worsening relationship between festival owner Rick Boyd and Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department.
By late last summer, parks officials knew they didn’t want the festival back. The city sued Boyd and the festival earlier this year over damage to the turf at Ann Morrison Park.
Boyd says he was overcharged by the city and also felt park officials were enforcing unfair rules, like not allowing festivalgoers to use park bathrooms and keeping cabs out of Ann Morrison.
The end result of this — outside of a $10,000 bill from the city of Boise — is that Boyd is moving the festival, now known as the Barley Brothers Traveling Beer Show, across the Valley to Meridian and the new Julius M. Kleiner Park at Eagle Road and Fairview Avenue.
There are two major changes to the festival this year. First of all, the initial day — Friday, Aug. 31 — is not a sample-as-much-as-you-want deal. That’s Saturday.
Friday’s event is a six-course meal, with about 50 different beers people can try. It was supposed to be at Julius Kleiner, but Boyd moved it to the new Brewforia location at the corner of Eagle and State streets so people could watch the Boise State season opener, he says. The cost is $60 per ticket. You can eat as much of the six different dishes as you want, and sample as many as 50 different brews. That event begins at 4 p.m. and goes to 9 p.m. The food is served at 6 p.m.
The big tasting festival is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Boyd says he will have more than 200 different beers to sample from more than 60 local and regional brewers. The cost to get in is $20. Sampling is unlimited. Boyd says the participating breweries are all trying to bring unique beer, cellar reserves of old favorites, and some beers made specifically for the festival.
For more details on the breweries at the festival, food vendors, bands and games (including volleyball and Bocce ball), visit www.barleybros.net.
Because of the changes, the 2012 festival should be a different kind of deal. At Ann Morrison Park, there were a ton of cyclists and other foot traffic from the Greenbelt. It may have been in a park, but there also wasn’t much shade where the beer tents were placed, which led to everyone crowding under the tents to avoid the summer sun. It could get claustrophobic.
Still, Ann Morrison was a great place for a beer fest. Police reported few problems during the first three years of the event, it was easy to get to, and when you left, there were a ton of places you could walk to.
Boyd acknowledges there are tradeoffs with the switch — the Fairview Avenue/Eagle Road area will never be described as bike-friendly — but says Julius Kleiner Park has more shade and a better layout. There are hundreds of parking spots there, and cabs will be allowed in to pick up folks who need a ride. The festival has agreed to pay the overtime costs for a handful of Meridian police officers to work the event.
Meridian police also say they won’t ticket or tow any cars left at the park overnight.
“If someone makes the right decision, we don’t want to punish them for it,” Meridian police Deputy Chief Tracy Basterrechea said.
In the past, Boyd has had some kid-friendly entertainment stations (think inflatable slides and bounce houses) away from the beer tents. Boyd says to expect the same situation this year. Minors are not allowed in the beer serving area, but there are places nearby where kids can play while parents take turns sampling brews.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219 Twitter: @IDS_Orr