With a business built around a beer-making process that takes months or even years to complete, husband and wife James Long and BreAnne Hovley faced a challenge when it came to launching Barbarian Brewing.
With limited resources and funds, could they afford to take the time to build up a stock of Barbarian’s specialty, barrel-aged beers? Or should they open sooner with a selection of non-aged choices?
“A conundrum,” Hovley says good-naturedly.
You’ll find your answer if you visit 5270 W. Chinden Blvd. in Garden City between noon and 9 p.m. Oct. 3. With six Barbarian beers on tap and a local taco stand outside, Barbarian will open as the Boise area’s newest brewery.
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Barrel-aged beers — with their lovingly nurtured, complex flavors and aromas — are still a couple of months away at Barbarian. Instead, the tap room will debut with Little Wolf IPA, Big Bad Wolf (an imperial IPA fermented in oak barrels), Saison, Dark Saison (fermented in a Merlot barrel), The Commoner (a California common, aka Steam Beer) and PostFunk (a dry-hopped golden sour).
By holiday season, the plan is to reveal a Saison aged in Chardonnay barrels, an imperial stout aged in bourbon and Petit Verdot barrels (named The Morrigan), and a Belgian red ale aged in a Merlot barrel with spices and dates. All will be available in 750-milliliter bottles. Even then, unless you’re part of Barbarian’s annual membership club, you might have trouble getting a taste — at least initially. If there’s any barrel-aged goodness left over, you’ll find it at Barbarian’s tap room, which is open 4 to 9 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
“We wanted to try and kind of match Crooked Fence’s hours,” Hovley says, “not to compete against them, but just for people to have options if they’re coming down to drink and try out some beers.”
Conveniently, Barbarian Brewing is a stone’s throw from Crooked Fence Brewing (which has a proven tap room) and right next to Meriwether Cider Co. (which doesn’t have a tap room — yet).
It makes for a fun little Garden City brewery-hopping destination. Barbarian’s tap room has eight handles. One is slated to pour a Meriwether cider — at least in the near future. But don’t expect a huge space. Barbarian’s customer capacity is nine.
(One tap handle per drinker, basically? That works.)
After raising more than $21,000 via Kickstarter, Hovley (Barbarian’s business manager) and Long (the head brewer) settled into their modest spot with a five-barrel brewing system and three 10-barrel fermenters. They’ve secured 32 oak barrels for aging that previously held bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, Chardonnay and red wine.
Several off-site events are planned. On Oct. 1 from 5 to 9 p.m., Fork restaurant, 199 N. 8th St., Boise, will do a tap takeover with three of Barbarian’s opening beers (reservations recommended). On Oct. 2 from 6 to 10 p.m., PreFunk beer bar, 100 W. Front St., Boise, will feature a tap takeover with five or six beers.
But thirsty Idahoans with a keen interest in Barbarian’s barrel-aged beers should examine the brewery’s 2015 membership program. Much like a wine club, it rewards members with limited-release bottles, discounts and access to members-only beer at the tap room.
“I know it’s a little tough for people to want to commit to a membership when they haven’t tasted our beer,” Hovley says, “but we have about half of our 100 memberships sold for this year.”
Off to a good start.
I’m looking forward to tasting a sweet, bourbon-tinged finish.
Boise at Great American Beer Fest
Compared to 2014’s big-time bling, Idaho didn’t make a massive haul when medals were handed out at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver last weekend.
But it certainly was massive for Boise Brewing. In just its second year entering the world-renowned tasting event, the fledgling, community-funded brewery took home silver. Black Cliffs American Stout — created by head brewer Lance Chavez — won the honor in the American-Style Stout category.
Shawn Kelso, brewmaster at 10 Barrel Brewing Co. in Boise, is the man who created Power to the People (P2P), which earned bronze in that same category for the second consecutive year. (Also for the second straight year, GABF’s online results credit 10 Barrel’s brewery headquarters in Oregon for that medal. Sorry, we’re considering it an Idaho win.)
Both medals add credence to the Gem State as a notable craft-beer player. Last year, four Idaho breweries medaled at GABF. Hosted by the Brewers Association, it’s essentially the Super Bowl of brew festivals. This year’s bash, held Sept. 24-26, included 6,647 entries and 147 beer styles. About 60,000 people attended.
Boise Brewing’s Black Cliffs is no stranger to medals. In June, it also won bronze in the American-Style Stout category of the North American Beer Awards in Idaho Falls. Black Cliffs was the first original recipe created for the brewery’s CSB (community-supported beer) program. Boise Brewing’s website explains that the members-only program is “all about creating crazy, fun new beers for our loyal fans to try.”
It’s worth noting that southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon dominated the American-Style Stout division at GABF. Not only did Boise Brewing and 10 Barrel Brewing win silver and bronze, Barley Brown’s Beer of Baker City, Ore., took gold in the category for its Disorder Stout.
Sockeye thinks pink
Sockeye Brewing will launch its annual “Cans for Care” program with a kick-off party 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 3.
The bash will happen simultaneously at both brewpub locations: 3019 N. Cole Road and 12542 W. Fairview Ave. Pink cans of Dagger Falls IPA — and other Sockeye beers — will go for $2. Pink six-packs of Dagger Falls to go will cost $6.
“Cans for Care” raises money to improve local care for cancer patients. Proceeds from October sales of Dagger Falls cans will benefit the St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute and the Saint Alphonsus Foundation.
Tips? Bar banter? Reach out to Deeds on Twitter: @michaeldeeds