The 74-acre relaxation mecca — part of a chain of Northwest brewpubs — inspired him. It wasn’t just a brewery. It was a winery, restaurant, event venue, golf course, movie theater, hotel, spa ...
“Dude,” Price told me this week, “if you’ve never been there, you need to go there. I’m serious. It will blow your mind.”
Two years after that eye-opening trip, Woodriver Cellars, a 5-acre winery parcel at 3705 Idaho 16 in Eagle, became available.
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“We should get that place,” Price remembers thinking, “and turn it into a destination brewery.”
Price’s voice rises in amazement as he describes Crooked Fence — “a little s**hole brewery in a strip mall,” he quips — taking over the spot in 2014. “I didn’t think that we would be able to get a place like this,” he says.
Like fruit trees in nearby orchards, Crooked Fence’s transformation now is in full bloom. This week, the brewery announced that it will host the Summerland Tour, a ’90s-themed rock festival featuring Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit and Sponge.
Crooked Fence’s ambitions are no longer pint-sized. Its Eagle site is a beer- and cider-crafting operation anchored by a restaurant, an event venue and a vision to become the Treasure Valley’s own mini-McMenamins of sorts.
“I’m always cautious on that,” Price adds. “But I like the McMenamins concept.”
The acreage’s initial name, Crooked Flats, has been jettisoned. It’s now just Crooked Fence Brewing Co. The site also is home to Longdrop Cider Co. Price and Crooked Fence co-owner Travis Krawl are among the cidery’s owners.
Crooked Fence’s other spots have been shuttered or sold. The original Garden City brewery and tasting room at 5242 W. Chinden Blvd. was closed late last year. The brewing equipment was hauled to Eagle. Crooked Fence has sold its Barrelhouse restaurant at 5181 N. Glenwood St. The new owner kept the Barrelhouse name, plus Crooked Fence’s recognizable branding. About half the beers on draft are Crooked Fence varieties, Price says.
All these changes are difficult for even the most observant beer drinker to keep up with. Especially after a healthy pour of Sins of Our Fathers imperial stout.
The key for Crooked Fence is to get Boiseans to visit them in Eagle. To actually drive 15 minutes west of Boise — OK, maybe 25 or 30 from Downtown.
Summer concerts are a proven marketing tool. On the schedule: Crooked Fence Brewing Fourth Anniversary Party with Jeff Crosby and the Refugees, May 14 ($5 advance/$10 door); Little Texas (yes, the ’90s country band, May 21, $15/$20); Blues and Bones Festival, June 11 ($19.99); Midnight River Choir, July 18, ($10/$15); Summerland Tour, Aug. 6, ($32.50/$37).
Summerland is an annual, rotating-band trek spearheaded by rock group Everclear. It sold under 1,000 tickets in 2014 and 2015 at the Revolution Center in Garden City. Price hopes that landing on a Saturday, being outdoors, happening at a hip local brewery — and featuring Sugar Ray — will double that number.
Crooked Fence’s owners just wanna fly, right? Not that Price harbors delusions of becoming the new Outlaw Field.
“I think what we offer is a little bit more of an intimate setting; getting closer to the stage, closer to the act,” he says.
Whether Summerland does fly — selling 2,000 tickets will be challenging — there’s no doubt: More Boiseans are discovering Crooked Fence’s Eagle digs. The restaurant and tasting room is now open seven days a week. And it’s filled to capacity on Friday and Saturday nights, Price says. The amount of sales in a week took a month to do last year, he adds.
“There’s just so many people that I’ve talked to even six months ago that didn’t know we had a restaurant out here,” he says.
As the weather warms, lounging at Crooked Fence becomes increasingly alluring. Game of bocce ball, anyone?
“The goal out here is we want people to come out, hang out for the day, throw down a blanket, bring a lawn chair, order some food, play some yard games.
“Make a day out of it,” Price says. “And we’re seeing that now.”
Josh Ritter, Foreigner, Pat Benatar
▪ Earlier this week, Outlaw Field announced a doubleheader happening Friday, July 15: Josh Ritter with his Royal City Band and JJ Grey & Mofro.
Tickets cost $35 and go on sale to the public April 22.
▪ The Western Idaho Fair, which is Aug. 19-28 at Expo Idaho, has revealed its grandstand entertainment: Josh Turner (Aug. 23), Foreigner (Aug. 24), LoCash and Sawyer Brown (double header Aug. 25) and Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (Aug. 26).