On a surprisingly hot day in late September 2015 10 Barrel Brewing put together a blind IPA tasting event dubbed “Beer Wars” in the parking lot behind the brewery in downtown Boise. While you may not be expecting to melt into the asphalt under a blistering afternoon so close to October; those in attendance were rewarded for their stamina and perseverance with a wealth of IPA goodness from around the West.
Now, I was expecting that the beers would be hidden, but I didn’t expect to be in the dark on which states the taps were from. The scenario that we found upon entering after purchasing our tulip and tokens were five stations, each with six tap handles with absolutely no identifying marks. The only information given to us was that each station represented a state. The states on hand were Washington, Oregon, California, Boise and last (but not least) the rest of Idaho. As a lover of beer this would have been a wonderful adventure to try to discern the various states and narrow down the respective beers from each had I been free to stay for the entire event. Having only an hour or so to spend at Beer Wars due to other commitments, this completely blind scenario was disheartening. I love our Boise & Idaho breweries with a passion, but it’s not every day that you can stroll up and grab Barley Browns, pFriem Family Brewers, Breakside Brewing, Backwoods Brewing, Silver City, Naked City, Green Flash, Ballast Point, 21st Amendment (just to name a few) on tap and at such a reasonable cost. I wanted to devote my time to exploring those beers that are harder to come by on tap here in Boise. But, what are you going to do.
The first order of business was to do a slow pass to see if there was any visible clue that could help my case. On this walk about, I caught sight of part of an uncovered keg which was plastered with a large Barley Browns sticker. Win! With no other visual clues I decided to pony up to what I was now sure was the Oregon tent and order my first beer. Beer in hand I retreat to a table and strike up a conversation with a few other beer lovers to compare notes and sip my beer. During my brief stint at beer wars I must say I met some great people, drank outstanding beer, and had a hell of a good (although far too short) a time. To my, and my tables credit, we were able to identify the California, Washington & Oregon tents… unfortunately, I was totally off on all my tap handle predictions. When you’re playing for these stakes though, even when you loose you win. 🙂 Beers that I ended up putting my hands on were Firestone Walker Double Jack, 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die, 10 Barrel Pearl IPA (From Portland), Breakside Wanderlust IPA, Boneyard Notorious IPA.
As the evening progressed the crowd increased substantially, at 7pm, all taps were revealed and the thirsty group gathered was able to drink to their hearts content, now knowing exactly which beers they’re drinking. I also heard that there were protesters, why I can’t imagine, across the street. Not that I need an excuse to drink good beer, but events like these seem to have a strong draw and give craft beer lovers around the valley the chance to get together, explore beers both local and regional while comparing notes and sharing beerventure tales.