Crooked Fence Brewing Co. likes to take a whimsical approach to its brand, from the distinctive artwork on the labels to the beers themselves.
Flagship brews such as Sins of Our Fathers, 3 Picket Porter and Trainwreck Red have helped give the brewery the edge that it needs to succeed in the highly competitive craft-beer scene that’s blossomed around these parts in recent years.
Crooked Fence recently moved its brewery from Garden City to its Eagle location along Idaho 16, an acreage formerly (and still informally) known as Crooked Flats.
It’s a gorgeous spot to hang out and have a burger and a beer. The brewery inherited the mature landscaping, a covered stage for live shows and bocce ball courts from Woodriver Cellars, a winery that occupied the park-like spread for the better part of a decade.
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Crooked Fence’s makeover of the property included retooling one of the buildings into a brewpub when it first took over the spot in 2014. This is where patrons can quaff a beer and dig into a recently unveiled summer menu of pub-inspired fare with a crooked angle.
Sit on the patio and chow down on some brew-friendly appetizers. After filling up, you can burn a few calories with a game of cornhole on the lawn or a round of bocce ball.
It’s easy to get distracted at this place with all the fun stuff going on — but if your focus is food, you’ll find a brewpub attempting to serve food just as whimsical and memorable as its beers.
Crooked Fence breaks tradition by serving duck finger steaks ($12.95), a pile of breaded and deep-fried duck tenderloin strips (crispy on the outside, tender on the inside) served atop a mound of golden hand-cut fries. The deep-fried goodies come with pinkish fry sauce (laced with smoky chipotle) and a surprisingly mellow horseradish sauce accented with orange zest. I must say, these are the best finger steaks I’ve had since living in the Gem State.
I also was impressed by the fish tacos ($10.95), which have the tendency to be ho-hum at other brewpubs. However, these Baja-style fish tacos were tasty enough to hold my interest thanks to three warm corn tortillas stuffed with pieces of ale-battered and fried salmon (fragrant and flaky), tangy cilantro-flecked slaw and freshly sliced avocado. The tacos were finished with a zigzag of bright chipotle-raspberry sauce that thankfully wasn’t too sweet.
Sad but true: I’ve been served some seriously floppy flatbread at eateries around the Treasure Valley as of lately. But I’m happy to report that Crooked Fence’s Fuji flatbread ($9.75) is good and crispy, topped with prosciutto nibs, chopped Fuji apple, dried black figs and gooey Brie, adorned with a ropy squiggle of balsamic reduction. Diners also can score pesto chicken flatbread, a shout-out to summer.
Deep-fried pickles seem to be everywhere these days — some with more success than others. At Crooked Fence, the deep-fried pickles ($7.95), served in a tall cone, are unfortunately dry, little shingles of sliced dill pickles (with the breading barely clinging on) served with the aforementioned chipotle fry sauce. I definitely prefer deep-fried pickle spears instead because they tend to be juicer.
Also expect to find typical boneless chicken wings ($9.95), breaded, fried and tossed in one of three possible sauces. It only made sense to try the porter-spiked barbecue sauce, which coated the tender, little nuggets situated next to a pile of carrot and celery sticks. Some creamy blue cheese dressing would have been a nice addition to the plate, though.
The brewpub offers an always-changing selection of mainstay and seasonal house brews on tap, supplemented by a local hard cider. One early evening, I downed a pint of Violet’s Take Black IPA ($4), a hoppy, coffee-dark brew that makes periodical appearances.
Crooked Fence puts out a busy BLT ($11.95), built on an egg-washed hoagie roll with crisp slices of bacon, sliced red onion, garlicky aioli, cilantro-perfumed avocado cream, sweet tomato chutney and of course, lettuce and tomato. The sandwich came with a mixed-greens salad dotted with crumbled feta, crunchy soy beans, black olives and sun-dried tomatoes.
A seasonal Firebird Burger ($12.95) pays homage to the nearby racetrack that lights up the night sky in this stretch of sagebrush. A third-pound beef patty gets plopped on a freshly baked bun (made with spent brewing grains) with deep-fried jalapeno slices, pepper jack, smoky chipotle mayonnaise, leafy lettuce and sliced red onion and tomato. You get the idea. It’s a fiery burger, served with hand-cut fries. Too bad the patty was extremely overcooked and dry.
The brewpub is known for its macaroni and cheese ($11.95), a round ceramic dish bubbling with toothsome elbow noodles coated in a creamy sharp cheese sauce redolent of beer. I should probably mention that it comes sprinkled with bits of candied bacon.
As you can see, Crooked Fence strives to be fun and different in the food department. Some dishes succeed, while others just toe the average pub-grub line.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Crooked Fence Brewing Co.
Address: 3705 Idaho 16, Eagle
Phone: (208) 286-9463
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday (Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
Menu price range: appetizers and salads $7.95-$13.95; sandwiches, burgers and entrées $8.95-$14.95
Libation situation: Besides a rotating selection of flagship and seasonal brews, you also can get inventive beer cocktails and cocktails made with top-shelf spirits. The wine list includes a good selection of Idaho and California labels.
Kid friendly? Yes. Bocce ball and cornhole.
Wheelchair accessible? Yes