September 10, 2012

Barley Brothers Traveling Beer Show

I didn't think I was going to get to go to the Barley Brothers Traveling Beer Show when it hit the Boise area Labor Day weekend.  Despite having a blast at their McCall stop, I was tapped out, spending the last of my money watching my beloved Broncos go down in defeat against Michigan State.  Luckily, I have good friends.  Specifically, my best friend, who insisted I go.  When somebody wants to drink beer with you that badly, it's just rude to say no.

We arrived shortly after the gates opened and were greeted with a line that stretched far down the sidewalk at Kleiner Park, the festival's new Meridian location.  Lest you think everyone just got there early, this was the line viewed from inside, several hours later:
It was even longer!  But it should come as no surprise--paying $20 for unlimited craft beer is an insanely good deal.  The last time I attended Barley Bros., in McCall, I attempted to keep detailed notes on every beer I tasted--I was a blogger, after all.  But since I realized I would need a thesaurus to keep up with those people in my group who run the Boise Bar Guide, I decided I would focus on something else entirely.  Let them tell you about how malty something is, or its hops content.  I am here to tell you about the festival itself.
One of my favorite things about this festival was the feature tent.  I've never been to Barley Bros. any time that it has been in Boise, but I don't recall a feature tent in McCall.  Basically, every hour a different brewer got to take their place at this prime spot right at the front of the line, and they would serve limited edition beers that you weren't likely to get to try elsewhere.  This was a real highlight.  While I would do terribly at recounting all the beers I tried, I know for a fact that I liked several from this feature tent, including the one I am preparing to try as I take this picture, New Belgium's Super IPA, which they made in partnership with Alpine Brewing.  Despite a general distaste from my group for the beers of Samuel Adams, one of my absolute favorite beers was the Norse Legend, which was one of their features.  Really, I got the sense that every brewer who entered the spotlight made the most out of it.
Something I didn't expect to see at a beer festival was a band made up of children.  But the kids playing for Boise Rock School were actually pretty darn good, although I still wonder what was going through their minds as middle aged people danced in front of the stage raising up their beer cups.  They certainly got my attention, by tearing through a cover of the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army."  What I didn't realize as I was rocking out with a glass of Hippie Shake (thoughtfully rimmed with fresh hops by the person working the tap) is that I'd soon be on the stage.  But thanks to a helpful woman named Sheryl I realized that what I had read on Twitter was true:  There were to be facial hair contests, courtesy of the Boise Beardsmen.  I decided to sign up, even though I'd seen enough beards to know I wasn't going to win.  Still, cool trophies and the possibility, no matter how slim, of winning some money meant that I was game to make a fool of myself on stage.
Waiting in the wings during the mustache round.

On stage with the (far superior) competition.

The eventual winner.
It was a blast, despite not even placing in my event.  After talking with Sheryl some more, I rejoined my friends and got back to drinking.  After enjoying some beers by Payette Brewing at the feature tent, and grabbing some excellent pulled pork from one of the food trucks rimming the perimeter of the festival (Kanak Attack, who piled on the food so high that I was able to feed two very drunk people for a mere eight bucks,) we retired to a circle of lawn chairs to play drinking games.  I don't know why I decided it would be a good idea to play rounds of "Asshole" with Stone's Arrogant Bastard, but at least everyone else was toasted enough that the players in the lead weren't making me take extra drinks. The fun continued until about four, and then we called it a day.  The festival continued another five hours, but since we'd been there from the beginning, we'd had our fun, and my face was getting to be as red as the Superb Sushi shirt I was wearing.  Although I didn't catalog all the great beers I drank or every memory, all you need to know is that Brewforia puts on a hell of an event, and if you like beer, you should make a point to go to events like these.  You won't regret it.  (But bring a water bottle, and if it's the summer, sunscreen.  Kleiner is a nice park, but it's severely lacking in shade.)

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