Tapped In with Michael Deeds: Part beer can, part growler? Crowlers hit Boise (w/video)

Michael Deeds
Michael Deeds

Payette Brewing Co. fills lots of growlers, and it’s no wonder. Not only is the beer tasty, it’s priced right: $10 per 64-ounce fill at the brewery at 111 W. 33rd St. in Garden City.

So when Payette founder Mike Francis heard about the growler’s crushable little brother — known as a “crowler” — his interest was piqued.

A crowler is a blank, 32-ounce aluminum can — a can meets a growler.

“It’s one-time use, just like a normal can,” Francis says.

A label is rolled onto it by the barkeep, who also writes the beer’s name on it. After a crowler is filled, it’s sealed in front of the customer using a special machine. A crowler has a pull tab, just like any normal 12-ounce or 16-ounce can.

Payette started selling filled crowlers for $6 last week.

“We thought this would be a fun way to do any of our beers — especially our specialty beers,” Francis said.

Beer bar Pre Funk, 1100 W. Front St. in Boise., started filling crowlers in early April. Co-owner Jordan Flynn says he recently popped open a crowler that was sealed two months earlier, and the beer “was still fresh, good to go. Just like right off the tap.”

Pre Funk sells a filled crowler for the same price as a “grunt” fill — aka a 32-ounce growler. Flynn says they’ve sold about 600 of them so far. Depending on the specialty beer, crowler prices sometimes beat 22-ounce bottle prices, Flynn adds.

Mostly, though, crowlers are just handy and fun in outdoor recreation states.

Heading out on a river trip or mountain bike tour but don’t want to deal with glass? Grab an aluminum crowler filled with your favorite craft beer. When you’ve finished it with your buddies, smash it. (No, not on your biking helmet.)

The fact that a crowler can be compacted and recycled makes it perfect for, well, about any situation.

“We’re pretty excited for winter snowboarding,” Flynn says.

And let’s face it: Although nobody is promoting overconsumption, a crowler certainly could be a standout house gift at a fraternity party. “Dude, puncture that can! Can you shotgun that crowler?”

“I’ve shotgunned a Foster’s before,” Flynn admits, adding that he thinks he could handle a crowler. “Depends on what beer. I would shotgun a crowler of Fly Line with Mike, though, that’s for sure. If he’s up for the challenge.”

Sockeye tops North American Beer Awards list

Don’t mess with the fish.

Much like last year, Sockeye Brewing dominated the list of Boise-area breweries picking up bling at last weekend’s 21st North American Beer Awards. Sockeye picked up six awards — the most among all Idaho breweries — including two Gold Medals. The competition, held in conjuction with the Mountain Brewers Beer Fest at Sandy Point in Idaho Falls, involved six double-blind tasting sessions. In the days leading up to the June 6 brew festival, which attracted a crowd of 6,500, judges graded beers based on set style guidelines.

Congratulations to the Treasure Valley breweries who entered and earned awards:

• 10 Barrel Brewing Co.: All American Brown, Bronze, American-Style Brown Ale; Cynical, Bronze, Cascadian Style Dark Ale

• Boise Brewing: Black Cliffs, Bronze, American-Style Stout

• Edge Brewing Co.: Badunk-a-Monk, Silver, Tripel; Edge Porter, Bronze, Brown Porter

• Payette Brewing Co.: Fly Line, Silver, Cream Ale

• PostModern Brewers: Postmodern Baltic Porter, Silver, Baltic-Style Porter

• Ram Restaurant and Brewery: Lost Reindeer, Silver, American-Style Strong Ale; Owyhee Oktoberfest, Bronze, Marzen-Oktoberfest Lager

• Slanted Rock Brewing Company: After Midnight Imperial Stout, Silver, Imperial Stout

• Sockeye Brewing: Gin Barrel Aged Dagger Falls IPA, Gold, Barrel-Aged Beer; Bourbon Barrel Aged Seven Devil’s Imperial Stout, Gold; Barrel-Aged Strong Beer; Hells Canyon Helles (aka Lonesome Larry Lager), Silver, Helles Lager; Selway Schwarz, Silver, Schwarzbier (Black Beer), CoCo Peak Milk Stout, Silver, Sweet Stout; Maibock, Bronze, Traditional Bock

• Woodland Empire Ale Craft: Cozy Up, Gold, Sweet Stout

Crooked Fence celebrates 3 years

For the past two years, Crooked Fence Brewing Co. has held a birthday bash at the PowerHouse Event Center in Boise.

Not this year. The brewery will take over the Old Idaho Penitentiary from 6 to 11 p.m. June 12 for its 3 Year Anniversary party.

“It was getting too big,” Crooked Fence co-owner Kelly Knopp explains. “We’re trying to give people some space.”

The Funky Taco and Archie’s Place food trucks will be on site. Crooked Fence plans to pour about half a dozen kinds of beer, including a special white rye IPA. Longdrop Cider Co. also will offer four choices.

Live music in the courtyard will include local, high-energy rock band Marshall Poole (7 to 8 p.m.) and San Diego-based Johnny Cash tribute act Cash’d Out (8 to 10 p.m.).

Knopp said he’s hoping lots of people will ride bicycles. Boise Bicycle Project will provide bike racks for parking.

Tickets are $10 in advance online at, or $15 at the gate.

In brief

•  Pre Funk plans to hold a grand opening June 26 at 729 N. Main St. in Meridian for its newest location. They’re aiming for about 40 tap handles. The Boise location plans to add 14 tap handles next week, bumping its total to 42. Four of those will be gluten-free — normally two ciders, a beer and a mead.

•  Longdrop Cider, which is being sold around the Treasure Valley on draft and in bottle, should infiltrate Albertsons with cans by September. The first canned flavors are slated to be vanilla honey and semi-sweet.

•  Newcomer Leadbetter Cider Co. hopes to have its cider available for sale by October or November. Incidentally, it recently changed its name to Meriwether Cider Co. because of a trademark issue with another business.

Twitter: @michael deeds