Boise is a Beer Town

Boise Beer

Before last week I had never had a beer from the state of Idaho. I honestly did not find this surprising because I didn’t know a whole lot about Idaho beer. What sparked my interest was learning that Idaho grows more barley than any other state and they rank 3rd in hop production. Why wouldn’t Idaho be considered a beer destination?

We traveled to Boise for President’s Day weekend and were impressed. They have over 15 breweries within 20 minutes of Boise and many were downtown or in close proximity to each other. We first focused on the downtown breweries and did an “urban beer hike” inspired by Chris & Meredith from The Beer Geek who routinely walk from brewery to brewery on their beer trips. This was a first time for us and I loved the concept. I feel like we walked by so many local establishments and mainly beer bars that we would not have noticed in a car. You can visit 10 Barrel Brewing, Boise Brewing, Postmodern Brewers, Woodland Empire Ale Craft all within 2 miles. Make sure to also stop by the City Peanut Shop who collaborates with local breweries to create peanuts that pair with their beer. This was seriously one of the highlights of the trip! You can also find their peanuts and nut mixes at most of the breweries.

 

Another area we really liked were the breweries along highway 26 in Garden City. It reminded me a lot of The Hops Highway in San Diego with one brewery after the next. Our favorites were Barbarian Brewing for their IPA’s and sours and County Line Brewing for their porters and stouts. Payette Brewing was another standout. They were the first brewery in Idaho to can their beer and now they also have crowlers (can growlers) to go. Our favorites were the seasonal Rodeo Rye IPA and their Pistolero Porter.

In the end it’s always who you meet that makes your trip memorable. We met so many locals who were very proud of their town and showed us why they valued it. Boise is defiantly a beer town. I would highly recommended Boise for a quick and relatively inexpensive beer vacation. You can hit a bunch of breweries within a short distance and not pay that much for your hotel, rental car or brewery tab.

This brings us to 420 breweries visited in 9 states + D.C.

 

Breweries Visited:

10 Barrel Brewing Boise – 830 W. Bannock St, Boise, ID 83702

Barbarian Brewing – 5270 W. Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714

Bella Brewing – 4340 W. Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714

Boise Brewing – 521 W Broad St, Boise, ID 83702

Cloud 9 Brewery – 1750 W. State St. Boise, ID 83702

County Line Brewing – 9115 W. Chinden Blvd #107, Garden City, ID 83714

Crooked Fence Brewing – 3705 Idaho 16, Eagle, ID 83616

Edge Brewing – 525 Steelhead Way, Boise, ID 93704

Highlands Hollow Brewhouse – 2455 N. Harrison Hollow Lane, Boise, ID 83702

Payette Brewing – 111 W. 33rd St, Boise, ID 83714

Postmodern Brewers (Grind Modern Burgers) – 705 W. Fulton St, Boise, ID 83702

Powderhaus Brewing – 9719 W. Chinden Blvd, Garden City, ID 83714

Slanted Rock Brewing – 2374 E Cinema Drive, Meridian, ID 83642

Sockeye Grill & Brewery – 3019 N. Cole Rd, Boise, ID 83704

Woodland Empire Ale Craft – 1114 W. Front St, Boise, ID 83702

 

Oscars + Food + Beer Pairings

It’s award season and the Academy has announced this years Oscar nominations! I am a huge fan of the Oscars and host an Oscar party each year. I include beer with almost everything I do so here is my themed menu, pairing appetizers and beer with each of the Best Picture nominees. My last years pairings was my post popular post and one of my favorites. None of the recipes our my own so click on the links to find the source and the recipe to try. Feel free to use this post as a guide for your Oscar festivities. Take lots of dressed up photos and share your themed pairings ideas!

 

The Big Short

Caviar Blinis with Smoked Salmon – The Big Short – Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard

For The Big Short I wanted a food and beer pairing that screamed excess, gluttony and the “to big to fail” stupidity that represented the pre-recession financial culture. Caviar feels exclusive and is delicious served with smoked salmon and crème fraîche. For the beer pairing I went with Stone Brewing’s Bourbon-Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard to symbolize the robust and arrogant culture of the time.

 

Bridge of SpiesClassic Russian Dumplings (Pelmeni) -Bridge of Spies – Speakeasy Payback Porter

 Bridge of Spies gives you multiple pairing options from good old America to Russia to Germany. I choose to focus on Russian cuisine and found a recipe for pelmeni’s, which our classic Russian dumplings. This will be a unique pairing that I don’t think people will expect. Speakeasy’s Payback Porter is one of my favorites and the label works so well for this spy drama and depending what you stuff the pelmeni with it will pair nicely too.

 

Brooklyn

Cheddar & Guinness Dip – Brooklyn – Guinness Draught

 Brooklyn also has so many themes you can play off of from Ireland to New York to Italy. For me Ireland just goes hand in hand with Guinness and I wanted to not only show that in the beer but also incorporate Guinness into the appetizers. Cheddar & Guinness beer dip will bring out everyone’s Irish spirit and cheese and beer goes over well at any party.

 

Mad Max

Steampunk Cupcakes – Mad Max: Fury Road – Paradox Beer Co Skully Barrel No. 26

Wow…Mad Max is hard to pair with. The movie has absolutely no food themes unless you count vegetables for the elite members. I wanted to showcase the color of the desert because it was such a big part of the movie, but I couldn’t think of anything. Luckily I found these awesome steampunk gear cupcake decorations that will be perfect. I am also going top the cupcakes with silver sprinkles to showcase their weird silver spray. The beer pairing was a lot easier with Paradox Beer Company’s Skully Barrel No. 26. The skull label fits right into the Mad Max theme. Also, this will be a new beer and brewery for me.

 

The Martian 2

Mashed Potato Puffs – The Martian – 21st Amendment Brewery Down to Earth

How could I not do some potato appetizers when you think of The Martian!? Matt Damon’s character miraculously grows potatoes on Mars and even though he despises potatoes in the end they are his life source. These mashed potato puffs will be a tasty upgrade from the potatoes he had to eat. For a space themed beer 21st Amendment Brewery’s Down to Earth Session IPA showcases his wish to return down to earth.

 

The Revenant

Boozy Chocolate S’mores – The Revenant – Sudwerk Brewing Bourbonator

Oh Leo…Oh Leo…this is your year! The Revenant was a little difficult on food themes unless you want to go with bison liver, raw fish or a bear? A little more appetizers friendly alternative our these adorable “boozy” chocolate s’mores. These marshmallows are filled with a chocolate bourbon ganache that is decadent. Sudwerk Brewing’s Bourbonator is just too perfect of a beer pairing with that ferocious bear label.

 

Room

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches – Room – Bike Dog Brewing Milk Stout

The plot of Room is very dark, but Brie Larson’s character tries to protect the childlike view of the world for her son who only knows the world as room. I wanted a kid friendly appetizer of mini grilled cheese sandwiches and a tomato bisque dipping sauce for the adult spin on it. To highlight a child’s imagination I am pairing Bike Dog’s Brewing Milk Stout because of the their loveable bike dog logo and it’s milk…stout.

 

Spotlight

Bite-Sized Boston Cream Pies – Spotlight – Harpoon Brewery Celtic Red

Spotlight revolves around Boston and I wanted to showcase the historic city. The Boston cream pie is the official dessert of Massachusetts and these bite sizes version are so classy for an Oscar party. The beer pairing was an easy choice because Harpoon is the first Boston brewery that I always think of (sorry Sam Adams) and they also drink it in many scenes throughout the movie.

 

Oscars are Sunday, February 28th at 5pm. Follow on Instagram I will be dressed up and showcasing my beer and appetizer pairings.

Happy Oscar Season! ~ Sparklinglover

oscar photo

2015 in Review

2015 Breweries Visited

2015 was one of our top beer years to date. We visited 77 new breweries in 3 different states.  Our most memorable beer areas were San Diego, Phoenix, and Denver. We also bought a house this year, which we are still on cloud 9 about! Here is our best attempt at a “Top 10” list of new beers, new breweries and new beer experiences.

Our Top 10 New Beers:

1) Triple Hammerhead Speedway Stout – AleSmith Brewing

2) Bourbon County Brand Stout 2015 – Goose Island Brewery

3) Mexican Chocolate Stout – Copper Kettle Brewing

4) Sip of Sunshine – Lawson’s Finest LiquidsMexican Chocolate Stout

5) Kentucky Breakfast Stout – Founders Brewing

6) White Mocha Stout – Fieldwork Brewing

7) The Seer – Holy Mountain Brewing

8) Lupulin River – Knee Deep Brewing & Kern River Brewing

9) Tweak Bourbon Barrel Aged – Avery Brewing

10) Half Nelson – Clandestine Brewing

 

Our Top 10 New Breweries:

1) Great Divide Brewing – Denver, COGreat Divide

2) Fieldwork Brewing – Berkeley, CA

3) Crooked Stave – Denver, CO

4) Copper Kettle Brewing – Denver, CO

5) Left Hand Brewing – Denver, CO

6) Kern River Brewing – Kernville, CA

7) Blue Note Brewing – Woodland, CAFieldwork Brewing

8) Culture Brewing – Solana Beach, CA

9) Aftershock Brewing – Temecula, CA

10) Clandestine Brewing – San Jose, CA

 

Top 5 Beer Moments:

1) Reaching 400 breweries! – 400 sounds way better than 300

2) Attending the AleSmith Speedway Grand Prix 2015 for San Diego Beer Week. This was one of the coolest beer events I have ever been too. 12 specialty Speedway Stouts ranging from maple blueberry pancake to Butterfinger.

3) Finally visiting Denver, CO home of so many wonderful breweries and tasting Yeti at the source!

4) Sacramento Beer Week! We came out in force this year and went to numerous events. I was really proud of my home town representing so well!

5) Lastly, I am so grateful for the founders of Sacramento Beer Enthusiasts for creating such a great group. I have made such great beer friends this year due to this group.

Happy New Year!

25 Beers of Christmas

Continued my tradition of enjoying 25 Christmas beers from wonderful clove to orange peel to Christmas spices galore. See last year’s post. Here is my list of #25beersofchristmas from Instagram:

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234

5

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Our 10 Most Remote California Breweries Visited

California has 431 craft breweries according to Brewers Association and currently we have been to 304, that is 70% completed (!) until tomorrow when another one opens and then another and another. I wanted to highlight some of the tiniest towns we have been to on our quest for breweries. Most of these breweries were multiple hours away from anything else and in some of the most beautiful places.

10) South Gate Brewing – Oakhurst, CA – Population 2,829

Before you enter Yosemite stop by for a pint. Located 15 minutes from the south entrance South Gate Brewing opened in 2013. Complete with a brick oven pizzas and a tasty porter.

9) Prospectors Brewing – Mariposa, CA – Population 2,173

I loved this place. When we visited it 13 Prospectors Brewingwas basically a one man operation and the beers were so good. A must stop on the way to Yosemite National Park…it’s seems all the park entrances have a brewery. Quent little town with great beer.

8) Jack Russell Farm Brewery – Camino, CA – Population 1,750

This brewery would feel “remote” if it wasn’t 30 minutes from my hometown. Located in Camino, CA and more importantly Apple Hill. For anyone that didn’t grow up in Sacramento area, Apple Hill is a must when fall comes around, filled with orchards, farmers markets, wineries and Jack Russell Farm Brewery. Yes, they have an Apple beer also.

7) Dunsmuir Brewery Works – Dunsmuir, CA – Population 1,650

Honestly you could drive right by and not even Dunsmuir Brewrey Worksknow this town had a brewery. Dunsmuir Brewery Works was such a treat on the long drive to Oregon. It is a perfect pit stop for a pint and lunch. The town is known for rock climbing, skiing and fishing and I pretended to be outdoor-sie.

6) Mad River Brewing – Blue Lake, CA – Population 1,253

All I really remember from Blue Lake is driving past a remote casino and landing at Mad River Brewing. Which is great because you arrive at Mad River Brewing. A great gem of Humboldt breweries since 1989.

5) Anderson Valley Brewing – Boonville, CA – Population 1,035

For such a well known brewery it’s quite a surprise that the brewery is located in good ol Boonville in Mendocino County known for boontling a “language” only spoke in Boonville.  They also host the annual Boonville Beer Fest each May where you camp with the brewers..it’s pretty awesome.

4) Etna Brewing – Etna, CA – Population 737

Etna feels like it should only have a Etna Brewingpopulation of about 50 not 737. It’s located 2 hours west of Hwy 5 in Northern Northern California. This was a trek, but worth the flight and a waitress that calls you hun.

3) Highway 1 Brewing – Pescadero, CA – Population 643

Located on the California coastal highway with stunning ocean views. I loved this place because they offer beer and breakfast, yes please. Any brewery that opens early is on beer travelers wish list, plus you get to stare at the ocean.

2) June Lake Brewing – June Lake, CA – Population 629

If you are headed to Mammoth Lakes this is a must stop. I recommend driving around June Lake first (its a whole 10 minutes) and then grab a pint here. This is defiantly a local hangout where I tried to pretend I hiked before grabbing a beer…no I just went for the beer, but wanted to feel like a “regular”

1) The Brewing Lair – Blairsden, CA – Population 39Brewing Lair

I adore this place. Drive 2 1/2 hours from Sacramento among the pine trees and turn up a dirt road and you arrive at this little oasis. The brewery and tasting room looks like a small lodge on top of a hill. Grab a pint or sampler and find a place on their porch that overlooks a big grassy area. Come prepared with a picnic and stay for their disc golf course.

Get out and #beertravel to some of California’s greatest small towns!

Cheers, Sparklinglover

Reaching 350 breweries in Mammoth

June Lake BrewingFor my birthday we headed to Mammoth Lakes, CA to visit one veteran brewery and two new ones and to reach our goal of 350 breweries. We had never been to the east of Sierra’s before and the drive was absolutely beautiful from flat lands to mountains to lakes and lakes…it had it all.

Our first stop was June Lake Brewing in the tiny town of June Lake, CA. They have been open for almost a year now by San Diego transplants. We celebrated number 350 by getting a sampler and planting ourselves at the bar. The bar was long and faced the brewing facility. The brewery was already busy with people enjoying the outdoors. The beers were really tasty, especially the Gulllllager a complex lager and the west coast style Hutte Double IPA. The best part of June Lake was had their beers to go in crowlers (think canned beer + growler) We had heard about their growing popularity, but were excited to take one to go.

Mammoth BrewingOur next stop was just 20 minutes south to Mammoth Brewing, which has been brewing since 1995. We have had a lot of their beers before, but were excited to try some special releases. We grabbed a flight and were excited to enjoy the sunshine and mountain views outside. Their Epic IPA was defiantly the standout. Later that night we ended up coming back for a pint and to try their food. Let me tell you, the food was amazing it complimented the beer. Worth a visit all around.

Mountain RamblerOur last stop was Mountain Rambler Brewery in Bishop about 45 minutes south. This brewery is only a few months old and seems to be adding new beers and menu items each month. They had four beers on tap when we arrived and were out of the Pale Ale that I had heard about. We had their Black IPA and Brown Ale and the Black IPA was really well done. We didn’t get to try their food, but would defiantly go back to see how they evolve.

Overall a nice overnight trip to Mammoth Lakes in search of breweries and it looks like there is already a new brewery in planning, Black Doubt Brewing. The travels always continue. Happy beer travels!

Breweries Visited:

June Lake Brewing – 131 South Crawford Ave,  June Lake, CA 93529

Mammoth Brewing – 18 Lake Mary Rd,  Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Mountain Rambler – 186 South Main Street,  Bishop, CA 93514

My Sac Beer Week Picks

sac beer week

Sacramento Beer Week is finally here! This is the 6th year of festivities presented by the Northern California Brewer’s Guild and runs from Thursday, February 26th to Sunday, March 8th. There are hundreds of beer inspired events all over the Sacramento area. You can find events listed at Sacramento Beer Week and the mobile app Beers in Sac. Also don’t forget to check-in on Untappd for your chance to earn a Sacramento Beer Week badge! Here are my picks for the events I am most excited for. If you see me at any of the events, say hi!

Thursday, February 26th

Sacramento Brewers ShowcaseSBS-2015-Logo

The kick off event to Sac Beer Week. Over 30 Sacramento area breweries will be pouring their classic, limited and collaborative beers amongst a sea of classic cars at the California Auto Museum. Unlimited tastings for $40, increases to $45 at the door. A special IPA tasting area will be available for a $10 ticket upgrade. Photo Source.

Friday, February 27th

bikedogbottlesBike Dog Brewing First Bottles Release Party

Bike Dog Brewing is having their first ever bottle release on Friday night. Bottles include San Dog IPA and their much loved Milk Stout. They will also have a special deal on their first ever bottle opener. Don’t wait around to get your bottles, like most of their events it will go fast. One of my favorite local foods trucks The Culinerdy Cruzer will also be there. Photo Source.

riveterredHopBroads Riveter Red Release Party @ Yolo Brewing

HopBroads, a group of beer loving women, pioneered a collaboration beer with Yolo Brewing just for Sac Beer Week. Event will be from 6-8pm at Yolo Brewing and continue to the after party at Capital Beer & Taproom starting at 8pm. If you miss these events you can taste their collaborative red ale at Final Gravity on Monday, March 2nd starting at 6pm. Founding members of HopBroads and founder/brewer Mike Costello will be on hand. Photo Source.

 

Saturday, February 28th

                                                                                 San Diego Invades Midtown

sd crawlSacramento Beer Enthusiants and Beers in Sac have spearheaded one of the most exciting events of beer week, a San Diego inspired beer crawl showcasing 10 fantastic San Diego breweries at 7 beer bars around Midtown. Crawl starts at any beer bar at 2pm and you can go at your own pace. The Facebook event has over 500 people attending so it’s going to be huge! Photo Source.

 

Midtown BierGarten – Green Flash Brewing & Alpine Brewing
The Golden Bear – Saint Archer Brewing
Beach Hut Deli – Karl Strauss
Goldfield Trading Post – Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
Tank House BBQ & Bar – Lost Abbey & Port Brewing
Alley Katz – Stone Brewing & Coronado Brewing
LowBrau – Alesmith Brewing

milkstoutMilk Stouts Gone Crazy

Bike Dog Brewing is well know for their classic milk stout and their one off creations. They are outdoing themselves on Saturday with 8 different milk stouts including orange vanilla, raspberry tamarind, chili, mexican chocolate, curry, macaroon, rum, and brandy. Get two taster trays of all 8 until they run out. Starts at 2pm. Photo Source.

brewdayBrew Day Open House & “Fear Itself” & “Across the River” Release

New Glory Craft Brewery is hosting an interactive brew day where you can ask questions and watch them brew a batch of beer on their 15BBL system. They will be releasing their first ever Double IPA “Fear Itself” and what I’m most excited for is the release of “Across the River” a Session Wheat IPA collaboration with new Sacramento brewery Argonaut Brewing. Event from 12pm – 9pm. Photo Source.

Tuesday, March 3rd

beerpairingdinnerBeer Pairing Dinner @ Blackbird

I can’t wait for this event! 3 course meal by chef Carina Lampkin of blackbird. Kitchen + Beer Gallery paired with beers from Device Brewing, Mraz Brewing, and Bike Dog Brewing. I haven’t even seen the menu or even the beers yet, but know this event is going to be one of my favorites. To start, blackbird has stellar food and with 2 beers per course, this event is a stand out. Event starts at 7pm and tickets ($30/person) are available at the link above. Photo Source.

Friday, March 6th

hopstotableHops to Table 2nd Anniversary Party

Celebrate Hops to Table Magazine 2nd Anniversary at Capital Beer and Taproom. They are promising rare kegs to kick off the celebration, which I’m sure they will have. This magazine has been essential to the growing popularity of Sacramento beer. Come raise a pint and help them celebrate. Starts at 5pm. Photo Source.

Sunday, March 8th

capitalbeerfestCapitol Beer Fest

The only way to end an epic beer week is with an epic beer festival. Capitol Beer Fest is an outside event lining the capital mall. Hosted by more than 100 breweries from Sacramento and beyond. Ample amounts of food trucks and live music. Event is from 2pm – 5pm and tickets, $40 advance, see link above – $45 day of. Photo Source.

Happy beer week!  ~ Sparklinglover