American Craft Beer Week begins Monday and that means seven days of cool and unique beer events all over the Boise area.
The national weeklong celebration of our favorite artisan malt/hop/yeast/water beverage first began in 2006 and just continues to grow, both locally and nationally, as more and more (smart) people embrace the virtues of craft beer and kick the big-brewer-yellow-fizzy-stuff to the curb.
Almost every good beer bar and local brewery has some kind of fun event planned for the week, whether it’s a special beer dinner or drink specials. It's pretty hard to list them all, but there are a few events that you need to know about.
The main event, as usual, is the beer passport program, where you get to represent your commitment to local beer and earn a T-Shirt at the same time. (The shirt is designed by Kelly Knopp of Crooked Fence Brewing, which has a very cool art component. Check out their website for examples).
There are only 200 beer passports available, and you can get them at these five Boise breweries: Crooked Fence, Highlands Hollow, Payette, The Ram and Sockeye.
To earn the shirt, you must drink a draught at each brewery — and then visit a corresponding bar to buy another pint of that brewer’s beer. Each brewery has four bars listed on the passport where you can find their beers. To find out what bars those are, go get a passport.
So it takes 10 beers to earn the shirt. If you get all 10 stamps on the passport, go to either Payette Brewing or Crooked Fence, starting May 20, to pick up the exclusive shirt.
The point of this is to enjoy the Treasure Valley’s best brews and support our best local beer bars. If you plan on earning multiple stamps on one day, I would strongly suggest a designated driver.
There is lots of stuff going on all week. Check out the Brewers Association web page here, and select Idaho to find out about beer events all over state, or call your favorite local brewery, beer bar, or bottle shop to find out if they have anything going on.
I do want to share some highlights.
Bittercreek Alehouse, Boise best and most tenured beer pub, will have only Idaho beers on tap all of next week. That means all 39 taps will be spud-state specific. Expect lots of the best from our Treasure Valley stalwarts plus some other brews from more far-flung parts of the state.
Included in those offerings, beginning Monday, will be the Idaho Brewer Collaboration Sage Pale Ale, a beer brewed specifically for American Craft Beer Week by Payette, Highland’s Hollow, Crooked Fence, Salmon River Brewing and the new Sawtooth Brewery from Ketchum.
This is a pretty cool idea, because the brewers picked sage to give the brew a uniquely Idaho feel and flavor. It’s not quite ready to drink yet, but it will be ready to roll by Monday, said Payette brewmaster Mike Francis.
As I said earlier, each brewery and most beer bars in town are having some kind of events this week. If you want specific info, call ‘em up.
Lets use Sockeye Grill & Brewery as an example. The brewery is doing “tap takeovers” at Brewforia on Monday and Bar Gernika on Thursday. It will have special food/beer pairings at the brewpub all week long. The Sockeye folks are also hand-bottling 22 ounce bottles of Double Dagger Imperial IPA, which they will begin selling at the brewpub on May 18. (A few cases will also go on sale at the Boise Co-Op that day).
It’s not just breweries and beer bars, either. The Boise Co-Op is doing a blind taste test for IPAs on May 18. There will be three sessions for 15 people each, at 4:30, 5, and 5:30 p.m. You must reserve a spot at the Co-Op’s customer service desk. There is no charge, and the taste test will feature local IPAs plus a few “out-of-market” surprises. As of Friday afternoon, there were still a few spots left, so if you are interested, get on it right away!
Another thing you may want to circle on the calendar is the Pigapalooza at Brewforia (3030 East Overland Road) on May 19. What’s better than a beer fest? A beer fest with barbecue. Brewforia owner Rick Boyd says the details are still being finalized, but expect tons of Idaho craft beers on tap for $4 a glass, whole roast pigs, and a bunch of food vendors. Sounds like fun.