Boise beer year 2013 is shaping up to be pretty crazy. How much more can the craft beer universe expand in the Treasure Valley? Are we reaching critical mass, or is steady growth the norm for a while? So much is going on right now, so lets get right to it.
Two more breweries finally opened their doors to the public over the holidays Slanted Rock Brewing, 2374 E. Cinema Drive, across from the High Desert Harley-Davidson in Meridian, and Kilted Dragon Brewing in a strip mall at 9115 W. Chinden Blvd., west of Glenwood Street, in Garden City. (Garden City is only 4.2 square miles and has three breweries. Thats got to be some kind of record.)
Slanted Rock finally opened to the public on New Years Eve. Having a home-town brewery is a pretty significant step for Idahos third-biggest city, beer-wise.
Slanted Rock Director of Business Operations Alesa Lonseth said turnout has been good, and the brewery is starting to develop a regular clientele. Slanted Rock currently has four staple beers, with the Iron Butt red ale being the best seller so far, followed by the Silhouette Dark Ale, a malty and smooth take on the winter warmer style with a manageable 6.2 percent alcohol by volume.
The space inside the brewery is nice and open, with an understated and clean wood and steel aesthetic. Slanted Rock is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 3 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday. (The $2 pints on Tuesday have been popular, Lonseth said).
Slanted Rock has 16 accounts in the Treasure Valley including Red Robin, Kahootz and Cheerleaders, which allows Meridianites a chance to embrace the hometown brew.
Kilted Dragon opened Dec. 15 and is starting to develop into a local hangout for folks who live in the neighborhoods around Hewlett-Packard in West Boise, co-owner Jeremy Canning said.
Kilted Dragon is the smallest of the three Garden City breweries and has a nice DIY vibe inside. Its most popular brew so far has been the flagship Knuckleheaded banana porter, which is what it sounds like, a porter brewed with bananas. Somebody has to tell me about this, because I cant stand bananas. Just one mans opinion, mind you. I bet its delicious for people who like bananas.
Kilted Dragon currently has three other brews in the rotation the Dirty Blonde Highland Honey ale, the Wise Heff (a traditional hefeweizen style with hints of clove and banana from the yeast) and the Blue Steel IPA. The name might be a giveaway, but these guys have a real Scottish iconography vibe going on in the bottle art and merch. Im thinking a growler fill would be a good excuse to watch Highlander again.
I was stoked to see a pallet full of Sockeye Dagger Falls IPA cans at WinCo the other day. (For $6.98 a sixer!) For years, Ive been asking for the ability to buy a hometown sixer at a grocery store. Well, thanks to Sockeye and Payette Brewing, that has become a reality.
Payette struck first, putting the Mutton Buster Brown and Payette Pale Ale in a can last summer and getting on to store shelves first. Sockeye waited a little longer but got its flagship Dagger Falls IPA in cans by fall. Now both breweries plan to get more cans out to the market later this year.
Sockeye plans to have the Powerhouse Porter and Helldiver Pale Ale in cans by spring, with one or the other sitting next to Dagger Falls on store shelves.
Sockeye has agreements with Albertsons, WinCo and some Maverik stores to sell its suds, so its moving beyond good bottle shops into the mainstream.
This is a good thing for craft beer growth in general its how a local brewery connects with tons of new customers.
It feels pretty awesome, Sockeye Brewmaster Josh King said.
Payette Brewing brewmaster Mike Francis said to expect Outlaw IPA and North Fork lager in cans by the beginning of summer. Payette still has a mobile canning line come in every two weeks or so, but Francis hopes to have a permanent canning line in place at the Garden City brewery later this year.
Payette has had such success with the Mutton Buster and Pale ale in stores that it is going to buy a bigger canning line than it planned for. Payette also has to reconfigure the brewery to fit that and more tank space.
It also has an agreement with Albertsons, and like Sockeye, is trying to figure out the smartest way to grow.
NEW IMPORTS FROM SAN DIEGO
If all this local excitement is not enough, Idaho Distributing is bringing two much-beloved California-based breweries into the Boise market this spring, San Diegos Green Flash Brewing Co. and Ballast Point Brewing.
San Diego beers are defined by being big, bold flavorful brews full of hops. Its amazing how many world-class breweries exist in the same area, with Stone Brewing probably being the most iconic SoCal brand. Green Flash and Ballast Point are pretty close behind, however, and its going to be sweet to be able to buy them in Boise.
Green Flash is probably best known for its West Coast IPA and Le Freak Ale (cue up Chic in the background, yo), which is a combination of a Belgian Tripel and Imperial IPA.
The Ballast Point Sculpin IPA is also known as one of the best ever created of this incredibly popular style (gold medal winner at the 2010 World Beer Cup, where Ballast Point also won best small brewery in the world).
Its going to be interesting to see which tap handles go, and which companies lose local shelf space as more breweries discover Boise and our thriving beer scene. When will it reach critical mass?
Well, thats a subject for another day.
Patrick Orr: 377-6219 Twitter: @IDS_Beer
Patrick Orrs beer column runs the first Friday of the month.