Drink. Crush. Smile.
Slanted Rock Brewing Company has entered the six-pack market. Meridian's first craft brewery recently infiltrated Albertsons, Walgreens, Fred Meyer and other Treasure Valley retailers with cans of Initial Point India Pale Ale.
Slanted Rock also is canning its other year-round beer, Iron Butt Red Ale. Cans of Iron Butt are available only at the brewery for now, but eventually will expand to retailers.
When will the local-beer-in-cans bandwagon slow down? Never, if we're lucky. Slanted Rock joins Payette, Sockeye and Crooked Fence as Treasure Valley breweries unleashing beer to the aluminum-loving masses.
"There's a huge brewing market for cans," says Amy Wardle, Slanted Rock's sales and marketing manager. "A lot more people are putting their beer into cans instead of bottles, so there's higher demand. It's kind of the new big thing beyond bottles.
"We like 'em!" she adds enthusiastically.
Slanted Rock describes both its beers as "medium-intensity" with "crisp" finishes. The copper-hued Iron Butt, which refers to a motorcyclist's ability to ride long distances, isn't exactly a session brew at 5.8 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). But it's definitely an easy drinker for fans of the style.
Initial Point IPA, named after Idaho's historical surveying landmark near Kuna, finds its way down the hatch smoothly, too - even at 7.1 ABV. It has enough flavor to tempt hop heads, but it keeps bitterness reasonable and ends on a refreshing note.
The can's labels are informative and feature lengthy descriptions of ingredients, taste - and, yes, ABV. (There's no excuse for excluding ABV on any can or bottle these days.)
Slanted Rock sells six-packs of 12-ounce cans for $8 at the brewery, 2374 E. Cinema Drive. Singles are $1.50. Retailers should hit a price point around $8.99.
Feel like celebrating? Go ahead and crush that empty can of Iron Butt on your forehead. Then bandage up and join Slanted Rock for its one-year anniversary shindig Dec. 31. They're calling it a "Casino New Year's Eve Bash," and it will include casino tables, catered food, live music and the first couple of beers on the house. Hit the Slanted Rock Facebook page for more information, or call 288-2192.
MIXING BEERS AT TABLEROCK! YUM!
Tablerock will host its first Friends and Family Beer Blending Party at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 21. It costs $35 - and promises to be a blast.
First, there's the three-course holiday dinner from Chef Mark Wilkerson: Scotch Broth (stout-braised leg of lamb, barley and vegetable soup), Stout Meatloaf (bacon-wrapped, stout-infused meatloaf, potato and parsnip puree, braised brussels sprouts) and a Stout Float (vanilla-bean ice cream in a half-pint of stout).
But the focus of the event will be a blending experiment. Each person will mix three beers in measured amounts to find their favorite concoction. Everyone will taste and vote - then receive two complimentary bottles of the winning mixture later in the month.
"I'm hoping that folks can come up with a version of their own Christmas ale," says head brewer Derek Anderson.
He brewed three beers specially for the evening: a Jack Daniel's barrel-aged beer, espresso bean beer and chocolate nib-aged beer. In other words, he's set parameters. What, mad scientists free to make their own mixing choices of every beer at the brewery might create something awful?
"I think they probably could," Anderson says with a laugh, "including all the ones I've done. I've got a full bucket, too."
A former assistant brewer at the Ram, Anderson took Tablerock's head brewer job about three months ago. He's hoping the workshop will connect with the brewery's core crowd - and perhaps win over a few new fans for Tablerock, which has been crafting beer in Boise since 1991.
"We've been around a long time," he says, "but there's been some change."
Based on a taste of the beers whipped up for this blending party, I'd say change is good. The barrel-aged beer, which keeps its whiskey punch subtle, is outstanding. Anderson is most proud of the espresso bean bear. And the chocolate-laced beer? The key word there is "decadent."
It's almost a shame to blend them, but something good definitely will come of it. Reservations are recommended. Call 342-0944.
SOCKEYE EVENT TO OFFER NEW HOPS
Working in conjunction with Jackson Hop Farms of Wilder, brewers at Boise's Sockeye Brewing are experimenting with three new hop varieties. But they aren't keeping the fresh aromas and flavors to themselves.
Sockeye will release three SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beers made with each strain at a special Hop Flight Night at Sockeye Grill and Brewery, 3019 Cole Road, at 5 p.m. Dec. 18.
Sockeye production manager/brewer Kevin Bolen and grower Nate Jackson of Jackson Hop Farms will mingle and share knowledge for a couple of hours. You'll get a sample of each brew along with a character evaluation sheet, and you can pitch a name for the new hop varieties.
"We will be featuring three nine-ounce samples for $3, one of each SMaSH brew," explains Sockeye administrative/marketing assistant Dawn Bolen. "AND if you turn in your tasting notes, you get $1 off your next pint. Screaming deal!"
Heck yeah. Hop Flight Night also will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at Bar Gernika, 202 S. Capitol Blvd., and at 5 p.m. Dec. 20 at Bier:Thirty, 3073 Bown Road. (Kevin Bolen will attend the one at Bier:Thirty, also.)
NEW BREWERY, TASTING ROOM IN JANUARY
Woodland Empire Ale Craft, a new brewery in Boise - not Garden City, believe it or not - started production this week.
The tasting room at 1114 W. Front St. is on track to open its doors in early January.
OLD CHICAGO CELEBRATES WINTER
Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom wants you to "deck the halls with hops and barley."
The restaurant is celebrating cold weather with a Winter Mini Tour.
Now through Dec. 29, you can hit your closest Old Chicago location and sample seasonals. Four of the 10 beers on the tour differ between the Downtown Boise and Boise Towne Square locations, but both offer the "rich, dark, spiced" Anchor Christmas Ale and "full-bodied" Samuel Smith Winter Welcome. They also both have a couple of beers exclusive to Old Chicago: Leinenkugel's Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout and Sam Adams' Cherry Chocolate Bock.
If you're a member of the Old Chicago World Beer Tour and complete the Winter Mini Tour by drinking all the beers during this special event, you get a T-shirt. (How about a stocking cap instead next year, Old Chicago?)
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