With summer around the corner, Idaho breweries are churning out six-packs made for lawn-mowing recovery and riverbank drinking.
▪ Velvet Falls Cream Ale has been a popular rotating nitro option at Sockeye Brewing for years. Now the brewery has released it in carbonated sixers. Velvet Falls is a satisfying hot-weather brew — dangerously crushable and still smooth even without the silkiness of nitro. A faint, dessert-like sweetness lingers on the finish. At 6.0 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), these seasonal cans disappear from the garage fridge way too quickly.
▪ Mother Earth Brew Co. is rolling out sixers of Born Blonde. Like Velvet Falls, this one flows right down the hatch. But at 4.8 percent ABV, it’s more sessionable. Tasting notes on the side of the can pretty much say what needs to be said: “Toasted biscuit, clean and crisp, easy drinker.” It’s a blonde ale. Balanced. Entirely inoffensive. You could probably even sneak a wedge of lime into Born Blonde without causing anyone’s head to explode. (Except possibly the brewer’s.)
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▪ What qualifies as a session beer? How about one that is 4.0 percent ABV? Grand Teton Brewing’s Grapefruit Gose (prounced “GOH-zuh”) isn’t just drinkable. More like chuggable. Done mowing the grass? Try not to obliterate a 12-ounce bottle in under 60 seconds. Technically, it’s a sour beer. Yet this refreshing, grapefruit-goosed gose goes down more like a distant cousin of Grandma’s iced lemonade than a bona fide adult beverage. That smidge of Yellowstone mineral salt and grapefruit puree sure make it tasty.
▪ Sawtooth Brewery recently bumped up its Boise presence with six-packs of cans of Sunnyside Session Wheat, which is 4.7 percent ABV and brewed in Hailey. This beer won a bronze medal at last weekend’s North American Beer Awards in Idaho Falls. It also won NABA gold in 2016 and bronze in 2014.
▪ Sawtooth also recently unveiled Idahome IPA cans in the Boise market. Like hops? The bitterness is real in this West Coast-style IPA. Idahome rates 100 on the International Bitterness Units (IBU) scale. (Guess what other local IPA is 100 IBU? Sockeye’s long-popular Dagger Falls.) Idahome (6.7 percent ABV) goes for a home-state ingredient list starring Gem State barley, hops and water — finished with “a huge dry hop using Idaho’s own Idaho 7 hops.” Bred at Jackson Hop Farm in Wilder, Idaho 7 delivers its pungent, oily goods here.
Yes! Wait, nooo! 3 Idaho beer festivals — all on the same day
Summertime is beer time. Here are three options for sipping craft brew in the Idaho sunshine — but you’re going to have to make a choice. They’re all on June 17.
Firestone Walker Crawfish Boil: Leave it to PreFunk Beer Bar in Boise to host this slice of Louisiana awesomeness. With help from local food operation Mister.BBQ, they’re calling this an old-fashioned crawfish boil — aka newspaper, lemons and crawfish. It ain’t cheap — $48.47 advance with tax (or $50 at the door) — but it’s a mouth-watering, beer drinkin’, sloppy culinary dream. Your ticket gets you a massive pile of boiled crawfish plus sides: corn, potatoes and sausage. “It adds up to about four pounds per person,” PreFunk vice-president Jordan Flynn says. “The barbecue guy was just basically saying we’re going to be dumping pots on tables.”
Your ticket also gets you two pours of Firestone Walker beers; there will be five varieties available. Plus a “giant hug” and “possibly heartburn,” according to the event’s Facebook page. Live bands will include Jonathan Warren & The Billy Goats and The Weary Times. Wait, is this even really a beer festival? Nah. But if you aren’t already bloated on food and beer, you can always grab another pour from the zillion taps at PreFunk. 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 17, PreFunk Beer Bar, 1100 W. Front St., Boise. Online: Facebook or tickets at eventbrite.com.
Ballpark Brew Fest: The Boise Hawks’ stadium probably isn’t the first destination for die-hard beer geeks hoping to converse about the intricacies of craft beer. But if you’re just wanting to kick back and have a few beers, welcome to Ballpark Brew Fest. There aren’t a lot of concrete details about specific beers being served, but the event’s Facebook page indicates that local breweries represented will include Payette, Mother Earth, Sockeye, Mad Swede and Boise Brewing. Regional breweries will include Pelican and Lagunitas. Also, there will be food trucks, live music and games. It’s $10 advance or $15 after June 15 (includes mug and six tasting tickets), and $5 if you’re younger than 21 or a designated driver (includes hot dog and soda). No pets.
Sun Valley Brewfest: Thirsty? The fourth annual Sun Valley Brewfest offers all you can drink for $30. And the setting? Well, it’s in the heart of Ketchum. Tough to beat those mountains. Featured breweries will include — take a deep breath — Iron Horse, Squatters, Lagunitas, 21st Amendment, Crooked Fence, Mother Earth, Warfield, Bertram’s, Highlands Hollow, Wallace, Wasatch, Wild Ride, Uinta, Idaho, Payette, Slanted Rock, 10 Barrel, Odell, Fremont, Grand Teton, Sun Valley, Great Northern, Sawtooth, Laughing Dog, Sockeye, Edge, Georgetwon, Deschutes, River Bend, Mad Swede, Rants & Raves and Snake River. Oh, and Meriwether Cider.
Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 17, Ketchum Towne Square. Online: sunvalleybrewfest.com.
14 Idaho breweries win medals at North American Beer Awards
Fourteen Idaho breweries hauled in a total of 29 medals last weekend at the North American Beer Awards in Idaho Falls.
With four medals, Grand Teton Brewing of Victor earned the most hardware of any Idaho brewery. Sockeye Brewing, which has been tearing up NABA in recent years, finally came back to earth with three medals after racking up seven in 2016. Gem State breweries that won gold were Grand Teton, Boise Brewing, Mother Earth, Payette, Salmon River, Idaho Brewing, Laughing Dog, MickDuff’s and Wallace.
Held in conjunction with the Mountain Brewers Beer Fest at Sandy Downs Race Track in Idaho Falls, NABA is a well-respected event. Judges go through blind tasting sessions and match beers to style guidelines. In other words, they don’t necessarily choose which beer they like the most — they choose the one that matches the style guide the closest.
The list of Idaho winners:
▪ 10 Barrel Brewing, Boise: Night Ryed’r, bronze, Robust Porter; Puff Puff Pass, bronze, German-style Rauchbier, Smoke-flavored Beer.
▪ Boise Brewing: Black Cliffs, gold, American-style Stout; Winnowing Wheat, bronze, Bavarian-style Hefeweizen.
▪ Grand Teton Brewing, Victor: American Sour 2015, gold, American-style Wild or Sour Ale; Bitch Creek, silver, American-style Brown Ale; Teton Amber, bronze, American-style Amber Lager; Black Cauldron, bronze, Imperial Stout.
▪ Idaho Brewing, Idaho Falls: Oktoberfest, gold, Marzen-Oktoberfest Lager; What a Pear, silver, Fruit Beers; Maibock, bronze, Helles Bock/Maibock.
▪ Laughing Dog Brewing, Ponderay: Imperial Pecan Porter, gold, Specialty and Experimental Beers.
▪ MickDuff’s Brewing Co., Sandpoint: Se Habla Cerveza, gold, Vienna Lager.
▪ Mother Earth Brew Co., Nampa: Fantasy Island, gold, Vegetable or Field Beers.
▪ Payette Brewing Co., Boise: 12 Gauge Mexican Chocolate Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, gold, Chocolate/Cocoa Beers; Sophie’s Choice, silver, Irish-style Red Ale.
▪ Ram Restaurant & Brewery, Boise: Oktoberfest, silver, Marzen-Oktoberfest Lager; Mellow Out Stout, bronze, American-style Stout; Boise Brown, bronze, English-style Brown Ale.
▪ Salmon River Brewery, McCall: Dark Villain, gold, Foreign-style Stout; Udaho Gold, silver, Light Ale.
▪ Sawtooth Brewery, Hailey: Sunnyside Session Wheat, bronze, American-style Wheat Ales/Dark Wheat; False Summit Amber Ale, bronze, American-style Amber Ale.
▪ Selkirk Abbey Brewing Co., Post Falls: 12°, silver, Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale.
▪ Sockeye Brewing, Boise: Power House Porter, silver, Brown Porter; Maibock, bronze, Traditional Bock; High Lakes Session IPA, bronze, Session Beer IPA.
▪ Wallace Brewing, Wallace: 1910 Black Lager, gold, Schwarzbier (Black Beer); Compressor SMaSH, silver, American-style Amber Lager.
Whole Foods goes beer crazy
You might want to stop by Whole Foods, 401 S. Broadway Ave., during the next week or so. The grocer is hosting a ton of beer events. A few highlights:
▪ Monday, June 12: Starting at 4 p.m., the upstairs River Room will host a Sierra Nevada tap invasion with all 12 beers from this year’s Beer Camp Across the World package.
▪ Tuesday, June 13: At 5:30 p.m., the River Room will host a four-course meal paired with Alaskan Brewing beers. It’s $25 at eventbrite.com. One attendee will win a meat smoker.
▪ Thursday, June 15: Payette and Alameda Brewing Co. recently collaborated on Tiny Island, a hoppy pale ale. Starting at 4 p.m., the River Room will pour that beer plus two other beers from each brewery.
▪ Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 18: All bombers at Whole Foods are 20 percent off, including gluten-free and cider.
▪ Monday, June 19: Anderson Valley Brewing Co. will sample summer beers from 4 to 6 p.m. on the floor, then from 6 to 8 p.m. in the River Room. On tap, the River Room will have Anderson Valley’s Summer Solstice nitro, Boont Oude Bruijn, Ee Tah! IPA and Rosy Barl.