Trying to recall everything that happened in 2016 is hard work. I could use a holiday beer. Luckily, finding a pint around Boise has never been easier.
The Treasure Valley’s brewery scene flowed like an overpumped keg in 2016 (again!), providing one of the year’s obvious headlines. Here’s a recap of that phenomenon — and other entertaining news you might have missed.
▪ Payette Brewing Co. unveiled a $4.5 million facility at 733 S. Pioneer St. along the Boise Greenbelt. Payette officially is the state’s biggest brewer. Another large-scale craft brewer, San Diego County’s Mother Earth Brewing Co., opened a major production hub in Nampa. Smaller, local Mad Swede Brewing debuted half a mile south of Costco in Boise.
What? Only three new breweries? Is the keg running dry? Not even close. Montana-based White Dog Brewing Co. is in the midst of major construction at the old TableRock Brewpub spot, hoping for a spring opening. The Avimor community awaits Spring Creek Brewing Company, a pizzeria and pub aiming for summer. Two Boise breweries that were supposed to appear in 2016 are looking at 2017. Clairvoyant Brewing Co.’s website indicates “early spring 2017” for a West End opening. Lost Grove Brewing near Boise State still claims “opening the fall of 2016” on its Facebook page. Hmm, time to switch to O’Doul’s?
▪ Boise’s concert scene was relentlessly busy. Taco Bell Arena was the year-round major arena, but the Idaho Botanical Garden’s Outlaw Field was the iconic summer spot — or should we say, spring, summer and fall spot. That outdoor series ran May through October and was bookended by sold-out shows: Paul Simon to start the season, Neil Young to end it. Outlaw Field also won an important battle when the idea of a competing series at Ann Morrison Park was discarded by Boise city leaders.
▪ The Ford Idaho Center made a comeback. Nampa’s venue increased its workload by more than 20 unique events. The biggest one-day concert — about 8,500 fans — was Korn and Rob Zombie at the Idaho Center Amphitheater. Monster Jam truck shows enjoyed record attendance numbers and helped set another precedent: Dirt was hauled in and out of the Ford Idaho Center a record six times in 2016, dusting up the lives of more than 100,000 fans.
▪ Frolicking violinist Lindsey Stirling highlighted a new outdoor series, Summerfield Concerts at Memorial Stadium. The series is slated to return in 2017.
▪ The Knitting Factory Concert House in Downtown Boise installed a crisp, much-needed new sound system, raising the live-sound bar statewide. I’m telling you, it was worth every penny. OK, I’m 99 percent sure. The Knit wouldn’t reveal how much the upgrade cost.
▪ Roughly 14,000 fans traveled to rural Elmore County for three days of sweat and camping at the second Mountain Home Country Music Festival. Next summer’s third annual festival will be headlined by Keith Urban, Luke Bryan and Chris Stapleton. For the first time, festivalgoers can buy single-day tickets.
▪ Alive After Five survived — a feat in itself. The free weekly concert series had to move from The Grove Plaza to the Basque Block for a year because of construction. To make matters worse, The Record Exchange, which had helped book headliners since 2005, abandoned ship, citing an unreasonably low talent budget. I’m hoping for a re-energized Alive After Five at its newly refurbished home in 2017.
▪ Wahooz Family Fun Zone in Meridian opened a new 17,000-square-foot, $5 million addition. Eight flashy attractions anchor the Indoor Adventure Park, transforming Wahooz and its 18-acre companion, Roaring Springs Water Park, into an all-seasons destination. Got rugrats to entertain over the holidays? Bust out your wallet. Do Wahooz.
▪ Mix 106 personality Kate McGwire left the popular “Mike & Kate in the Morning Show.” And Wow Country 104.3 made headlines by abruptly nixing an “Arena Wiena Dog Race.” Why? Because Idaho statute bans live dog races, including family-friendly wiener-dog sprints.
▪ Village Cinema operator Meridian Cinemas sued Idaho State Police — with good reason. Police had threatened to revoke Village Cinema’s ability to sell alcohol after a ridiculous Alcohol Beverage Control sting in 2015 at the R-rated movie “Fifty Shades of Grey.” State lawmakers responded by revising the antiquated, sex-and-nudity-averse statute. Soccer moms now are free to sip a glass of wine when the steamy sequel, “Fifty Shades Darker,” hits theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. Save me a seat!
▪ Superstar astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson visited the Morrison Center in Boise and returned home richer, thanks to $85 tickets. But the celebrity brainiac wasn’t done with Idaho. Times-News columnist Neal Larson, an Idaho Falls conservative talk-show host, made sure of that. In a spectacularly ill-fated piece of writing, Larson attacked Tyson out of nowhere — er, Twin Falls — even calling him a “jackass.” Tyson responded calmly, point by point, in the online comments section. It was a hilarious, epic beatdown, and it made headlines across the internet. Larson quickly retired his newspaper column.
▪ Spendy hamburgers (Eureka!, Barrel 55) and community-minded food (Even Stevens) remained trendy, according to Statesman restaurant reviewer James Patrick Kelly. But Boise’s most exciting new spot — at least in the fine dining world — was the Owyhee Tavern, he adds. It’s worth noting that Kelly’s Top 10 new Boise restaurants of 2016 would have included Horsewood’s Kitchen in Caldwell if it hadn’t opened and closed. It’s also worth noting that Kelly did not include the triumphant return of Taco John’s on his list. (Come on, man. Potato Oles!)
Other notable restaurant closures included Twin Dragon (a Boise institution), The Pantry (after 44 years), Grind Modern Burger (and its in-house brewery, PostModern Brewers), The Dish and MickeyRay’s BBQ. “Ben’s Crow Inn will surely be missed,” Kelly adds, “for its steamer clams and cold beer.”
▪ Three more random goodbyes: Meridian’s longtime strip club the Kit Kat Klub was demolished. The Idaho Stampede basketball team left Boise for Salt Lake City. The annual Modern Art event called it a day after nine years.
I’ll bid farewell, too. But only for two weeks. This column will return Jan. 6.
Just in time to revive your New Year’s Day hangover.