Freshen up your beer fridge. Check out new seasonal releases from Boise breweries Payette Brewing Co. and Sockeye Brewing. For the purposes of this roundup, we’re tossing Oregon-based 10 Barrel Brewing into the Boise ring, too. After all, Huckle Biere Grand Cru was brewed using the state fruit of Idaho, and you can buy 10 Barrel beers at the Downtown Boise brewpub.
One in the Chamber (Payette Brewing Co.) — Enjoy Imperial IPAs? Pull the trigger on a 22-ounce bottle of One in the Chamber. A glass of this is a high-caliber round — lethal ABV (9.7 percent), lethal shot of Amarillo hops to the nose, big bitterness, big malt deliciousness. The first release of Payette’s new Serendipity Series is “dangerously drinkable,” warns Payette head brewer Ian Fuller. Frighteningly so. There’s a palate-plowing range of Double IPA goodness to savor here, from a lemon-hinting front end to a sage-like finish that just keeps rockin’. Payette nailed this one.
Salty Bear (Sockeye Brewing) — Sockeye embraced the sour market when it put Huggy Bear dark sour in six-packs of cans. Now it’s sweetened the deal with Salty Bear, a barrel-aged dark caramel gose version of Huggy Bear. A gose (pronounced “go-zuh”) is a salty sour style, normally with a fairly low ABV. Salty Bear bucks tradition. The caramel permeates the aroma and colors the sour flavor. The pinch of salt satisfies. Don’t expect to be mauled by Salty Bear’s oak presence. But the restrained barrel lends warmth to the 6.2 percent ABV beer, rounding off that tart edge. Devout sour fans would consider this dessert. Cellaring a 750 milliliter bottle would be interesting.
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Huckle Biere Grand Cru (10 Barrel Brewing Co.) — Aged more than three years and finished in Pinot Noir barrels, this Belgian-style sour (7.4 percent ABV) serves up just the right amount of huckleberry smell and taste. (Unlike the overkill of, say, flavored vodkas.) Light, dry, fizzy and made from two types of wild yeasts, Huckle Biere Grand Cru is an outstanding patio sipper on a sun-drenched afternoon. The Gem State’s favorite berry slices refreshingly through the pucker factor. Tip: The 750 milliliter bottle’s rounded lip makes yanking the cork challenging for craft-beer simpletons. Borrow someone’s double-hinged wine key.
Honey Rye Barley Wine Ale (10 Barrel Brewing Co.) Still clinging to ski season? Be quick and grab a bomber of 10 Barrel’s Honey Rye Barley Wine Ale before it vanishes. Supercharged in rye whiskey barrels from High West Distillery in Utah, it’s a luxurious winter warmer with muscle — and 12 percent ABV of muscle relaxant. The dark fruit force is strong with this one. A sip teems with delicious rye barrel nuances and finishes with a fresh plum pie in the face. This brew begs for a fireplace — or at least a spring fire pit. Or just rest it until next snowfall.