Words & Deeds

Five ways to celebrate Idaho Craft Beer Month

Ryan Atagi, quality control manager at Payette Brewing Co., personally tested all of the free pint glasses that will be distributed for Idaho Craft Beer Month. (Kidding! Maybe ...)
Ryan Atagi, quality control manager at Payette Brewing Co., personally tested all of the free pint glasses that will be distributed for Idaho Craft Beer Month. (Kidding! Maybe ...) Idaho Brewers United

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a Rolling Rock, you’re aware of the Gem State’s growing craft beer industry.

To raise a glass and celebrate, Idaho Brewers United and Idaho Tourism have declared April as the inaugural Idaho Craft Beer Month, and many retailers are offering special deals and promotions.

“Idaho has a thriving craft beer industry that many people may not be tapped into yet,” explains Sheila Francis, executive director at Idaho Brewers United. “We’re seeing a steady increase in the growth of breweries throughout the state, including larger breweries looking to expand to other markets, and it’s time we build the infrastructure to celebrate this growth.”

It’s part of Idaho Brewers United’s mission. The nonprofit organization promotes and protects the craft beer industry.

“Idaho Craft Beer Month offers beer enthusiasts in the state and throughout the country a new opportunity to explore what Idaho has to offer,” she says.

Idaho produced 45,915 barrels of beer in 2015, the most recent year available from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Back in 2010, that number was a paltry 16,712.

“Idaho is in many ways a great state to exemplify national trends,” says Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association, a national trade organization representing the craft brewing industry. “It’s middle of the pack in both per capita breweries and per capita production, and has seen growth that has been a bit above national averages, but neither particularly rapid or slow.

“In other words, the state’s industry has grown in line with the overall increase in demand we’ve seen for fuller-flavored beers made by small and independent local brewers.”

Let’s party, Boise. Here’s how.

1. Buy the inaugural shirt

During April, Francis will visit breweries and sell official Idaho Craft Beer Month shirts. Shirts cost $20, and all the proceeds go to Idaho Brewers United. You also can order a shirt at squareup.com/store/idaho-brewers-united.

2. Drink cheap (local!) beer

Cruise over to Whole Foods on April 7-9, when all Idaho beer will be 20 percent off. Whole Foods also will serve samples from a local brewery from 1 to 4 p.m. every Saturday, when that brewery’s beers will be on sale both in package and on tap. Head to either Sockeye Grill and Brewery location on April 18 for Tax Day Relief; if you buy one beer, you’ll get one free. Mondays are “Mad Mutt Love Mondays” at Mad Swede in April; if you bring pet food to donate, you get a discount on beers. Visit the Idaho Craft Beer Month website at idahocraftbeermonth.com/events for other deals.

3. Do a tap takeover

Every Friday in April, Albertsons growler stations at 16th Street, 36th Street, Columbia Village, Lake Hazel Road and Eagle Road will host Idaho tap takeovers. Same for the Downtown Boise WinCo. And Whole Foods River Room will host a Payette Brewing tap invasion from 6 to 8 p.m. April 24.

4. Pair beer with food

From 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. every Sunday (starting April 9), Whole Foods River Room will feature Idaho brewers and brunch. It begins with Edge, Payette, Mother Earth and $10 chicken and waffles. (Mmmm.) The River Room also is hosting a ticketed patio party from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 28 with in-house smoked meats and beers from Grand Teton Brewing (tickets sold in advance), plus an open-to-the-public patio party from 3 to 6 p.m. April 29 with tapas and beers from Slanted Rock, Laughing Dog and others. Sockeye Grill on Fairview will get into the action with a mouthwatering, four-course Brewer’s Dinner at 6 p.m. April 8. Check the dessert: Chocolate cake paired with Cherry Thunder Barrel Aged Imperial Stout.

5. Visit a local brewery

Have you visited all 20 brewery locations in Idaho’s Treasure Valley? Of course not. It’s too easy to get settled in at your favorite watering hole. “Go check a new one!” Francis says. “You might just find your new favorite. Expand your palate.” There’s never been a better time, Idaho.

Idaho Craft Beer Month

When: April

Where: Participating breweries, tap rooms, restaurants, retailers

Online: #pintsupidaho and idahocraftbeermonth.com.