10 Barrel Brewing is built for Vikings. It takes both arms to wrest a solid wood chair from under one of the Boise brewpub's mammoth tables, giant steel fermenters rise from one end of the always-packed bar area like castle turrets, and piled bags of malted wheat act as bunker-ish room dividers. Not to mention, pulling the dense metal door to the bathroom shut feels like locking yourself in solitary.
Industrial? Try Medieval.
And that vibe translates to the menu. The charcuterie plate ($14) doesn't mess around with delicate petals of prosciutto or salami shavings, it's piled high with glistening slabs of honey-glazed pork belly, little beer brats with the casing sliding slightly off, rocky crumbles of manchego, and a sticky sweet mound of "bratwurst flavored" almonds. While the shriveled piles of house-pickled asparagus and purplish pickled onions add a nice zip to cut the fat, the real star is 10 Barrel's slightly runny housemade mustard, loaded with whole mustard seeds and perfectly tangy vinegar.
If there is a way to top the meaty excess of the charcuterie plate, the B.L.A.S.T. sandwich ($11.50)--dubbed "the ultimate BLT"--is surely a contender. A mound of crisp-around-the-edges, house-cured bacon is surrounded by thick slices of H&H Farms tomatoes, smashed avocado, arugula, a smear of pesto mayo and "extra" sourdough. Add a fried egg on top ($1 extra) and this beast of a sandwich is capable of providing two, if not three, meals.
The side beet salad ($9) is a more modest affair, with chioggia and red beet wedges on a heap of simply dressed, torn red leaf lettuce with a sprinkling of feta and a big pop of tarragon.
Got the term "housemade" rattling in your brain now? Chef Paul Faucher's offerings don't stop there. As one of my dining companions put it, "the whole back area smells like a pork factory": house-smoked bacon and pork shoulder, house-cured corned beef, housemade Mexican chorizo, and house-pickled carrots and daikon radishes on the Banh Mi sandwich (one of the only veggie options, available with five grain tempeh or house-smoked pork loin).
Let's not forget the beer. Brewmaster Shawn Kelso, formerly of Barley Brown's Brew Pub in Baker City, Ore., cranks out a variety of suds: everything from the motor oil-dark P2P Stout to the hoppy-yet-balanced Red Faucher to the easy-drinking Sasquatch. The 20 or so tap offerings--which include staples along with rotating cask and nitro brews--switch out regularly on the colorful chalkboard.
But one half of 10 Barrel's menu is likely to make both Vikings and food-fans furrow their brows: the "pie" list. Ground chuck, bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, 1,000 island sauce and French fries? Or pepperoni, pulled pork, sausage, pineapple, jalapenos and garlic alfredo sauce? No thanks.
I'll stick with the smoked meat and beer.