Tapped In: Sip local Sockeye beer and support bike trails

mdeeds@idahostatesman.comMay 9, 2014 

American Craft Beer Week is May 12-18. Boise Bike Week is May 10-17.

That gave Sockeye Grill & Brewery an idea.

For the second year, the Boise brewpub will break out its Trail Digger Pale Ale and donate $1 per pint sold to the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association. But this time, Trail Digger will pop a wheelie and show off during these bike and beer celebrations. Last year, it wasn't released until June.

"We decided this year to try to make a little more noise about it," explains Sockeye marketing assistant Dawn Bolen.

Sockeye, 3019 North Cole Road, will bust out Trail Digger at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15. At 7 p.m., SWIMBA will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the restaurant to show off its Single Track ST 240 trail-building machine. (The thing is a beast!) Trail Digger sales last year helped to fund the ST 240's purchase.

It's a no-brainer to grab a pint if you're a mountain biker. SWIMBA is manned by shovel-carrying volunteers who help ensure that killer trails get built and stay well-maintained.

Made with two Idaho-grown hop varieties, Trail Digger is tasty, easy-drinking beer that comes in at 45 International Bitterness Units (IBU). In fact, you might think it's too easy-drinking if you're planning to hop on your ride afterward. Fortunately, Sockeye is ahead of you, bike boy. Trail Digger is a session pale ale - 4.75 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) - so you won't need training wheels after one beer.

SWIMBA plans to continue hosting Trail Digger events throughout the summer, Bolen says.


Local breweries and brewpubs aren't always terrific at promoting themselves, but many are trying, particularly via social media, during American Craft Beer Week.

There are tons of cool events - more than I'm going to attempt to list - but one definitely worth highlighting is Brew O'Lympics. It's a sporting brew festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17, outside Sockeye's new brewery at 12542 Fairview Ave. (No, the brewpub is still not open. But you can go inside and hit the bathrooms.)

Eleven Idaho breweries will compete in events ranging from cornhole to keg tossing at this fundraiser for Idaho Brewers United: Sockeye, Edge, Highlands Hollow, 10 Barrel, Crooked Fence, Payette, Ram, Slanted Rock, Sawtooth, Woodland Empire and not-even-open-yet Bogus Brewing. There also will be food trucks from RiceWorks Asian Food and Brown Shuga Soul Food.

At least one beer will be available from each brewery. (Organizers weren't sure about Bogus.) Beers will be sold in pints. It's a family-friendly event; people younger than 21 won't be required to stay in a separate area.

Bolen says it's more important than ever to generate funds for the state's fledgling brewers guild, Idaho Brewers United. It will help facilitate organization, smart growth and cooperation with local and state agencies.

It's also just fun for breweries to play together. Back in February, Payette Brewing Co. organized a Brewer's Bash snowball fight. Brew O'Lympics is in the same spirit, Bolen says.

"I think all the breweries are just busy," she says, "and this is our way of stepping up to the plate and getting everybody together and getting some money for the guild."


There's no denying that Boise's craft beer scene is overflowing with sudsy goodness.

The rest of the planet has noticed. Boise is the focus of a two-page spread in the latest issue (No. 88) of Beer Advocate, a monthly magazine covering the brewski universe. (I wrote the piece.)

After a brief overview of the city's beer scene, this "Beer Destinations" guide recommends 14 restaurants, craft beer bars and bottle shops.

"It's been getting a lot of buzz around town," says Rob Landerman, co-owner of excellent new Boise brewery Woodland Empire Ale Craft.

That said, it might be easier to locate a bottle of Samuel Adams Utopias in Idaho than a copy of Beer Advocate. (Maybe it's time Boise Public Library subscribed?)

You can buy Beer Advocate digitally via Google Play. Or check out my "Words & Deeds" blog at IdahoStatesman.com/wordsanddeeds for a PDF of the article.


Sawtooth Brewery is making its presence known.

The Ketchum brewery recently partnered with Boise-based BRJ Distributing, which means more Sawtooth beer is flowing in the Treasure Valley.

"You should see more Sawtooth handles around," head brewer Paul Holle says.

The impact isn't just on draft beer. BRJ also is helping get Sawtooth's 22-ounce bottled line into more Boise stores, such as Trader Joe's.

Sawtooth Brewery's Freeheeler Rye IPA is its year-round bottle. A rotating seasonal bottle also is distributed. Right now, it's Sunnyside wheat ale. In June, it will flip to a pilsner.

Pumping up Boise distribution was important, Holle says.

"It's a big market," he says, "and a very mature and developed craft beer scene. So it gives us an opportunity to expand our style horizons and play with other beers that might not be as well-received in other parts of the state."

The deal also means distribution will be increased in McCall.

Michael Deeds: 377-6407, @IDS_Deeds

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