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Will Bike for Brews

A guide to destination beer-swilling spots

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Every summer, Boise patios overflow with spandex-clad bikers who penguin waddle between tables in their cleats, hoisting a frothing beer in one hand and a dripping slice of pizza in the other. While some hardbodies might scoff at this calorie-neutral "will bike for beer" mentality, most others see it as pure genius. If you'd like to join your buzzed biking brethren, here are a few primo beer-swilling destinations with biking directions from downtown Boise that will assuage some of your suds and fried spuds guilt. (Spandex bodysuits optional.)

Lucky 13

3662 S. Eckert Road, 208-344-6967, lucky13pizza.com

Though Lucky 13 long ago packed its pies and moved from Hyde Park to Harris Ranch, the pizza and sandwich stop has kept a twinkle of its North End charm with specials like the Rogue of Resseguie sandwich, with hot pastrami, swiss and sauerkraut, and the Camel's Back Pork pizza, with Basque chorizo and Canadian bacon.

Bike Route: Take a ride along the north side of the river and when you cross under Parkcenter Boulevard, get on the new stretch of the Greenbelt and head Northeast on Eckert Road.

Ben's Crow Inn

6781 Warm Springs Ave., 208-342-9669

Ben's Crow Inn's bucket of clams has become local legend. Though the dusty shack seems like the last place on Earth you'd want to suck down bivalves, it is a favorite among the sporty set for patio drinking, horseshoes and patriotic sing-a-longs. The microbrew list is micro, but you'd be better off with an ice-cold PBR anyway.

Bike Route: Follow the directions to Lucky 13 but stay on the Greenbelt for an additional 1.6 miles.

Bier:Thirty Bottle and Bistro

3073 S. Bown Way 208-342-1916, bierthirty.com

This simple Bown bar is El Dorado for fancy brew enthusiasts. Whether you snag a seat at a long communal patio table to sip a Belgian farmhouse ale or snuggle up in an inside spot with a barrel-aged stout to watch a European soccer match, Bier:Thirty will help you tap into your inner beer nerd. But don't skip out on the snacks: Bier:Thirty also serves up a small, meat-centric menu with options like currywurst and Northwest bangers and mash.

Bike Route: Ride along the south side of the Greenbelt and exit at The Cottonwoods. Ride to Parkcenter and follow the paved path on the left. Take a left at Pennsylvania Avenue and ride past Baggley Park. Continue down the sidewalk past Riverside Elementary to Bown Crossing.

The Lift

4091 W. State St., 208-342-3250, theliftboise.com

While most folks laud The Lift for its pineapple salsa-topped fish tacos and 50 cent Olympia beers on Tuesday nights, this State Street dive also features a banging back patio to sip micros on. If you haven't been by The Lift in a while, you might be surprised to notice that it now boasts a gussied up interior and menu. In addition to standard burgers-and-nachos fare, you can get a skewered Caprice salad or pulled pork sliders.

Bike Route: Get on the Greenbelt on the north side of the river heading west. Go under Veteran's Parkway and get off the Greenbelt at Lander Street (just past the stench of the waste treatment plant but before you've come to Willow Lane Athletic Complex). The Lift is at the end of Lander Street.

McCleary's Pub

9155 W. State St., 208-853-9910, mcclearys.net

If you're down for some serious day-drinking, McCleary's Pub offers a morning happy hour from 9 to 10 a.m., when patrons can bid on the Price is Right's Showcase Showdown and win a free beer. Or if you need more than cold beer and Drew Carey to keep you entertained, McCleary's offers ample bar games, including horseshoes, sand volleyball, pool and darts. The space also serves up bar grub like burritos, nachos and oh-so-old-school pickled eggs.

Bike Route: Ride west on the north side of the river on the Greenbelt. After Glenwood Street, wind your way to W. Riverside Drive, which brings you through a nice neighborhood. The route is winding, but there are bike lanes the whole way. From Riverside Drive, turn north on to Arney Lane and make your way to State Street.

Bardenay, Eagle

155 E. Riverside Drive, Eagle, 208-938-5093, bardenay.com

Whereas Boise's Bardenay is known for its primo people watching, Eagle's Bardenay is all about the patio. The Boise River runs by the wraparound seating area, where Eagle elites sip house-distilled gin and vodka cocktails.

Bike Route: Follow directions to McCleary's but go left on Stoneham Drive from Arney Lane. Follow the signs to the Greenbelt, heading south on Ulmer Lane and west on Heceta Head Drive. The Greenbelt is in flux in these parts and there are some portions where if you have fatter tires, you can ride a Greenbelt path that is unpaved and will go all the way to Bardenay. If you have skinny tires, travel north to State Street and stay on that road to get to Riverside Street, where you can make your way to Bardenay.

Payette Brewery

111 W. 33rd St., Garden City 208-867-6691, payettebrewing.com

Though this 1-year-old brewery isn't a restaurant, it does feature a rotating line-up of food trucks most weekend nights, so you can wash back a grilled cheese from B29 Streatery with a Mutton Buster Brown or a Boise cheesesteak from St. Lawrence Gridiron with an Outlaw IPA. Payette's tasting room is open Thursday through Monday.

Bike Route: Head west on the north side of the Greenbelt, go under Fairview Avenue and continue on the north side of the river. Cruise past the new river recreation park and cross the 36th Street pedestrian bridge, which will put you on 36th Street. Cross Chinden Boulevard and head to 33rd Street.

Special thanks to veteran alley cat racer and beer enthusiast Stephanie Clarkson for help with biking directions.

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