Sometimes the beer world can be small. As I sat at Barbarian Brewery, 500 miles away from home, I ordered myself a tasting flight and glanced to the left as I waited. I locked eyes with a familiar face. But this face perplexed me as it made no sense to see this face 500 miles away from home. The face belonged to the owner of my local brewery. Then his brother appeared, the head brewer from the same local brewery. And then the manager of the same local brewery’s beer hall. We were all in town for the weekend and one thing was clear… we should have carpooled.
After catching up with the brewers it was time to direct my attention elsewhere. And by elsewhere I mean to my beer. Sure it’s always nice catching up with people you know, but come on – there’s beer to be had!
The beertender slid my tasting flight over to me and glanced down at my tee shirt. I hadn’t had any beer yet, so I knew it was not that I had spilled, but that he had observed the fact that I was wearing another brewery’s tee shirt. Sometimes I feel it is bold to wear a brewery’s logo into another brewery. Depending on the brewery it could solidify your spot with the cool kids or out your terrible taste in beer. I was wearing a reputable brewery, so I assumed I had it in with the cool kids.
I grabbed my first beer, the Little Wolf IPA with a 6% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and a 75 IBU. This beer had a decent amount of bitterness with notes of pine and tropical fruits. It was a solid IPA and started me out on the right “paw” with this brewery.
I moved on to the next one in the wolf pack, The Big Bad Wolf. I am not sure what the connection is to the wolf, but 6 of their beers include some sort of wolf reference. The Big Bad Wolf rolled in with a 9% ABV and a 90 IBU. It is an imperial IPA with a bold showing of Chinook, Centennial, El Dorado and Mosaic Hops. It had some muscle to it, which is probably where it got its name.
The Wolf Pup Pale Ale was next on the drinking agenda. This 5% ABV and 40 IBU beer has one of my favorite hops, Citra along with Mosaic and El Dorado. The hop combo is delightful, powering through with tasty citrus flavors.
I rounded out my wolf tasting with the Space Wolf IPA. An East Coast style IPA with a 6% ABV and a 60 IBU. East Coast style IPAs are a hot trend right now, getting labeled with terms like “juicy”, “hazy” and “smooth” as opposed to the West Coast styles who find themselves with attributes such as “crisp”,“citrus” and “bittery”. Like all beers, it’s a matter of preference. I haven’t warmed up to the east coast style yet, but I’m sure all in due time. There was a time when I wouldn’t even touch an IPA, and now they are pretty much all I drink. The Space Wolf IPA had notes of lime and citrus pairing up with a cloudy appearance.
My next tastes were sours, which is one of the styles this brewery is known for. I started with the Sif Passion, a seasonal release with hibiscus, guava and passion fruit. This beer has a 4.6% ABV and a 10 IBU. I liked the character of this beer a lot, tangy and fruity. It was a fun combo of flavors that gave just the right amount of fruitiness and pucker.
My last beer of the day was the Raise Your Horns, another seasonal serve with a 9% ABV and a 0 IBU. This was my first 0 IBU beer. Usually, I hunt down 90+ IBUs, but a zero was fascinating to me as I had no idea it could be done. Even Budweiser has an IBU and that’s about as watered down and flavorless as you can get. I later learned that hop additions after the boil create flavor but do not attribute to the IBU count. Flavors of raspberry, lime, and grapefruit run around in this beer after being aged in a wine barrel for a year. It is a flavor combination I would have never thought of but it works. The tart factor is also “tart-tasktic” in this beer.
I sat with an empty flight of beers in front of me and knew it was time to move on. It was dinner time and the only food offering was a food truck. The food truck menu did not spark my interest so I asked for recommendations from the beertenders on where to go next. Ironically I had asked the guys from my local brewery where they had visited already and their list was a bit conflicting with the Barbarian beertenders. Meaning they told me not to go where Barbarian was telling me to go. But who am I to question a local, so I took the beertenders’ advice and jotted down their recommendations. It was the right thing to do.
Barbarian Brewing is located at 5270 Chinden Blvd in Garden City Idaho (near Boise). They have since my visit opened a downtown Boise location at 1022 W Main Street that I will have to check out the next time I am in Boise!