Two killer “Brewer's Nights” this week at the Front Door: Big Sky Brewing and Lagunitas

I've got some good news for craft beer fans in the Treasure Valley this week. The Front Door (105 S. 6th St. in Boise) is hosting two “Brewers Nights” this week with regional brewers — Montana-based Big Sky Brewing on Tuesday and Boise-area favorite Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Petaluma, California) on Thursday, from 6-to-8 p.m. both nights.

These are very cool events, so if you are a fan of either company (both have superb beers) try to stop by for a pint or two. Representatives from Big Sky (Tuesday) and Lagunitas (Thursday) will be there to hang out and answer questions. There will be drink specials and the reps from the breweries will be giving away swag.

1226947973 Two killer “Brewer's Nights” this week at the Front Door: Big Sky Brewing and Lagunitas Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Celebrate winter warmer season for just $10 at the Stonehouse Saturday

For a lot of craft beer enthusiasts — myself included — winter is the best time of year, thanks to the emergence of all those deliciously strong beers built for sipping around a fire.

Fortunately for us, the guys at the Ram (709 E. Park Blvd. in Boise) have decided to spread some holiday cheer a little early this year and hosting their final $10 economy-busting event at the Stonehouse this Saturday from 5-to-9 p.m.

Fresh hop ale tasting at the Boise Co-Op wine shop this Sunday

One of my favorite recent developments in craft beerdom over the last several years is the emergence of fresh hop ales to coincide with the Fall harvest.

Regular readers know I love my hops — which are of course prominently featured in the IPAs, pale ales, stouts, porters, etc ... of the Pacific Northwest.

Adding fresh hops to those recipes in the fall usually adds yet another enjoyable layer to the drinking experience, and this year’s entries have been superb. If you want to get a good idea of what is out there, jet on over to the Boise Co-Op wine shop (across the parking lot from the main Co-Op building at 888 W. Fort St.) Sunday between 2-and-5 p.m. for a free tasting.

“Beer guides — Get your beer guides here”

Have you ever tried to remember the name of favorite craft brew from another city, but couldn’t quite remember what it was, or why you liked it so much?

Do you like to argue the merits of particular beers, and wish you had some info to back you up every now and then?

Would you like a travel size, comprehensive Zagat-like guide to over 2,700 of the best beers the world has to offer? For a reasonable $9.95?

If your answer is yes to any of the three questions above, go to the Boise Co-Op and buy a copy of “The Beer Guide” — edited by’s long time editor Josh Oakes — for a mere $9.95.

Laughing Dog beer dinner at the Front Door next Thursday

Laughing Dog brewmaster Fred Colby is going to travel down from the Panhandle next week to pair up some of his newest beers with a meal at the Front Door Thursday.

The Front Door has held several brewer’s dinners over the last year and they have all been good. Thursday’s dinner should be especially cool since it involves an Idaho brewer who makes excellent beers.

Seats are limited and tickets for the five course-five beer dinner are $45 each (including gratuity), which is not a bad deal, especially since Colby is going to bring several beers currently not available in the Boise area, including his Hop Dog Harvest Pale Ale and a Rye IPA. The Dogfather Imperial Stout will be included in the beer/meal pairings as well.

GABF 2008 medal winners

OK — it might be a day late but here is partial list of some of our favorite Pacific Northwest craft brewers who won medals at this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

You can also click here to search a database, by state, to identify every 2008 GABF medalist in all 75 style categories. Very cool. You can also download a pdf of all the winners if you want a handy list to refer to.

But here is a quick summary of regional brewers who medaled in Denver if you can't get to that right away.

Regular readers know that only one Idaho beer medaled at the 2008 GABF: Grand Teton Brewing Co.’s delicious Bitch Creek ESB won the silver in the American brown ale category. This was a well deserved win for Grand Teton brewmaster Rob Mullin and his crew and not really a surprise. The silver was their fourth medal for the Bitch Creek over the last five years.

The Ram gets shut out at GABF, but Grand Teton gets a silver medal for the Bitch Creek ESB.

The judging is finally over and Idaho beers have only managed one medal at this year’s Great American Beer Festival.

Lets give some props to Victor, Idaho based Grand Teton Brewing for winning a silver medal for their Bitch Creek ESB in the American-style Brown Ale category.

The Bitch Creek has now won gold medals in 2004 and 2005 and a bronze in 2007. So the 2008 silver gives Grand Teton a medal sweep of sorts in the category.

It’s a fine achievement to be get a silver medal, especially since there were 47 other beers in the American-style Brown Ale competition.

1223768196 The Ram gets shut out at GABF, but Grand Teton gets a silver medal for the Bitch Creek ESB. Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The job of a GABF judge

For a craft brewer, winning a medal at the Great American Beer Festival is one of the most coveted prizes ever — the likely culmination of years of hard work and recipe tweaking in the quest for perfection.

But what about the men and women who determine who wins the gold, silver, and bronze medals? Over 100 volunteer GABF beer judges spend three days in small hotel conference rooms gazing at, smelling, tasting, and then drinking very small glasses of the same kinds of beers.

We made it to Denver — and the American beer universe is good.

Statesman photographer Kerry Maloney and I are at Great American Beer in Denver this weekend and one thing is already very obvious after just one session — the state of craft beer in the USA is awesome.

We spent Thursday's night's opening session of the GABF walking around trying to find the best and funkiest beers the US has to offer and found a bunch — and likely only got to taste about 7% of the 1800 beers available.

Fresh hop ales are here! Get them while you can

Hey hopheads — I’ve got some good news.

Two unique “wet hopped” harvest ales from Sierra Nevada just showed up at the Boise Co-Op today, joining the two other excellent examples of fresh hop beers — the Hop Trip from Deschutes Brewery and the O’Brien’s Harvest Ale from Hale’s Ales.

All four of these beers are delicious — featuring an infusion of freshly picked hop flowers from this year’s harvest which impart fresh organic and grassy hop flavors and aroma to the brew — and are only available for a limited time.

What is really neat is getting our hands on two of Sierra Nevada’s wet hop styles, especially the Chico Estate Harvest Wet Hop Ale, available for the first time ever in bottles.

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