Cue the fanfare and start the parade: Boise Weekly is officially celebrating a full decade of cold beer.
It's hard to believe that it has been 10 whole years since we made our fledgling steps into the world of cheap, cold beer, like a college student at his or her first kegger. But unlike those coeds, whose taste in brews usually becomes more refined with age, we've doggedly stuck to those beers that are best served at a temperature that induces instant brain-freeze.
And what has that frosty tunnel vision gotten us besides a hefty bar tab? We proudly boast a deep repository of knowledge of all things that come out of beer taps in Ada County. OK, so it's not really a marketable skill, but it still earns us some coolness cred--at least judging by the amount of times we hear, "How do I get your job?" while out testing said beers.
Some may accuse us of being fanatics for undertaking such a completely unscientific and overwhelming project like testing nearly 200 bars across the county. But to them we say, if not beer, then what better is there to spend our time on?
Undoubtedly we will get at least one annual lecture on the fact that not all beer is supposed to be served below the freezing point. To that argument, well, we agree, but the Warmest Beer contest just doesn't have the same ring to it. Besides those fine ale establishments that take pride in precise serving temperatures can now point to the official record of their non-frostiness.
As in recent years, we have limited our testing to only locally owned and operated establishments that serve beer on tap. If a business has multiple locations in the valley, we only test one.
Once again, we relied on an army of volunteer beer testers to help BW staff scour the valley in search of the coldest taps around. We offer our unending gratitude to these brave souls who go forth with little more than a kitchen thermometer between them and a raging hangover.
Now soak in the sudsy results of all our hard work. After all, continually lifting a pint glass can lead to a repetitive-motion injury.
29.3°El Gallo Giro
- Laurie Pearman
- El Gallo Giro
The Dos Equis Amber is plenty cold but that's just a bonus. The real goal here is satisfied taste buds and bellies filled with authentic Mexican fare. Don't miss the tableside, made-to-order guacamole service at dinner. The menu features molcajetes, a stew-like dish served in a sizzling hot stone bowl. 482 W. Main St., Kuna, 208-922-5169, elgallogirokuna.com
Despite its authentic-feeling Western interior, this ain't your daddy's saloon. Cowgirls and fly girls dance the Cupid Shuffle atop two long, marble-topped bars to earn free drinks and giveaways. 5467 Glenwood St., Garden City, 208-322-6699, shortyssaloon.com
The bar is like a peninsula, jutting out from the wall and making itself the centerpiece of this pub, which hosts three pool tables, various video games, and a day crowd that is ready to drink when you are. 10704 Overland Road, Boise, 208-376-9800
Lindy's makes the short list for tried-and-true Boise bars. With a casual, welcoming bar on one side and a family friendly steakhouse on the other, the crew at Lindy's prides itself on hospitality. Soak up that beer with some of the famous pressure-cooked finger steaks--easily some of the best in town. 12249 W. Chinden Blvd., Boise, 208-375-1310
A dark and sexy gentleman's club that's moderately smoky but cool and comfortable. Friendly staff with interesting interior signage: Stripper Street, Sex Drive and Bitch Corner to name a few. 1826 W. Main St., Boise, 208-344-0218, thetorchlounge.com
This suburban bar and grill has waitresses in tiny uniforms, two massive TVs flanking the dining area and a sports info ticker. 3541 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-939-9209, cheerleadersbg.com
Take refuge in the safari-themed, classy and dimly lit bar for an ice-cold martini or kick back on the patio, which is draped in greenery and surrounded by grass, with an ice-cold beer in hand. 999 W. Main St., Boise, 208-342-4900, angellsbarandgrill.com, @angellsboise
Get ready to spread out. First, wine and dine on the grill side, loading up before you head over to the lounge, where the real fun begins. 1065 E. Winding Creek Drive, Eagle, 208-938-3010, willowcreekgrill.com
There's not much around it but that makes Gino's all the more of a destination not only for fine dining but also for one of the only bars in the area. You can go for just a beer, but we're pretty sure you'll end up with dinner. 3015 McMillan Road, Meridian, 208-887-7710
31.8°The Ranch Club
That giant, rearing horse on the roof beckons the crowd into a dark-paneled interior that opened in 1947. Reclining bucket seats mounted at the bar provide cushy seating between games of beer pong and horseshoes. 3544 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-343-7447
Chandlers is a classy place, with a cool color scheme, glass architecture and high-backed leather chairs--like the hotel bars in movies, where one can go to lay out their problems over a cold bud, finding wisdom in the sly and subtle bartender, and though he may not have the answers, you'll feel better all the same. 918 W. Grove St., Boise, 208-383-4300, chandlersboise.com, @chandlersboise
It's a house party in a quiet little neighborhood at The Beerhouse and everyone is invited. With horseshoes and volleyball nets in the back yard, this house should be home sweet home for the summer. 9751 Cory Lane, Boise, 208-322-9958
It's a neighborhood sports/Nascar bar, with daily drink and food specials. It seems like the place where former frat guys congregate now that they are relegated to a life in the suburbs. 2032 E. Overland Road, Meridian, 208-888-9868
Step into the grassy back yard behind this dark, smoky dive bar and you'll be rewarded with horseshoe pits, a volleyball court, dart boards, a picnic pavilion and all the fresh air you can breathe. 9155 W. State St., Boise, 208-853-9910, mcclearys.net
In the same building as Peregrine Steaks and Spirits, the lounge also serves appetizers, lunch, dinner and an $8.50 Sunday brunch buffet. Ten taps, a big dance floor and an outdoor patio overlooking Indian Creek and the Owyhee Mountains. 751 W. Fourth St., Kuna, 208-922-4421, creeksidekuna.com
- Laurie Pearman
- Outpost Cafe
Sure, it's in the Boise Airport, but a dependably ice-cold beer might make that "enhanced screening" a little more interesting. 3201 Airport Way, Boise
With emphasis on local microbrews and a central BODO patio, Solid is the only state of matter that matters. Indoors a polished granite bar classes up the hardwood and brick, creating unexpected elegance. 405 S. Eighth St., Boise, 208-345-6620, solidboise.com, @solidboise
33.2°20th Century Lanes
The Big Lebowski meets King Pin. Bowling accoutrements, everywhere and ample gaming opportunities are to be expected from such an establishment. 4712 W. State St., Boise, 208-342-8695, 20thcenturylanes.net, @20thcenturylane
33.2°Turner's Sports Bar
Formerly Turner's Stage Stop, this old Boise establishment has character. Horseshoe pits out back, 25-cent pool tables, bar arcade games galore and a vintage barn give this place a rustic fit and feel. 4022 W. State St., Boise, 208-342-9090
A swanky Meridian eatery with muted modern decor and an open kitchen, Jakers is packed for weekday lunch with the business-casual crowd. Who wouldn't be content in a place where, if you're seated in the bar, there are happy-hour specials all day. 3268 E. Pine Ave., Meridian, 208-288-0898, jakers.com
The beer at Sockeye is so good they don't even have domestic beers on tap. The outdoor patio that rests along Cole Road provides a welcome change from downtown Boise, allowing you to enjoy one of Sockeye's delicious brews without the hustle and bustle of the 9-to-5ers. 3019 N. Cole Road, Boise, 208-658-1533, sockeyebrew.com, @sockeyebrew
Yes, there are TVs aplenty tuned in to sports and countless photographs of hall of famers. But it'd be a mistake to lump this place in with all the other Treasure Valley sports bars. The wood paneling, leaded-glass lamp lighting and absence of over-stimulating noise and bustle sets this place apart. There are 16 beer taps, and a star on the menu is the hand-breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. 2902 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-884-4400, pinnaclesportsgrill.com
Giant prawns, enormous steaks and friendly service have endeared generations of regulars for 52 years. The old-school steak house menu and distinctive Western theme are both nostalgic and comfortably kitschy. 3132 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-342-4161, stagecoachboise.com, @boisestagecoach
- Laurie Pearman
- Boulevard Bar
Looking for a new hideout? This cozy little working man's bar is hidden in plain sight near a bustling intersection. The giant rocking chair perched above the business next door is a convenient distraction--they'll never think to look for you here. 4079 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-383-9035
The only bar in Star for smokers, karaoke crooners and anyone with attitude. There's nothing fancy about this corner tavern, and the clients wouldn't have it any other way. 10937 W. State St., Star, 208-286-7794
Sombreros, tequila shots and a two-for-one happy hour that can't be beat. Who needs Mexico for a vacation? 210 N. Milwaukee Road, Boise, 208-322-0222, cafeole.com
34°Idaho Pizza Company
Local, delicious and fully equipped with beers on tap, Idaho Pizza Company is a great place to have a party for kids ... even those older than 21. 3053 S. Cole Road, Boise, 208-362-7702, idahopizzacompany.com, @idahopizzaco
Montego Bay's view of the private pond out back makes for a comfortable vibe. Thong pong Wednesday and lengthy happy hours throughout the week. 3000 N. Lakeharbor Lane, Boise, 208-853-5070, montegobayidaho.com
34.4°Boise Fry Company
Boise Fry Company has an earthy, local feel, with a multitude of starch options. Its crisp micros are a welcome delight, washing away the salt-induced thirst. 111 Broadway Ave., Boise, 208-495-3858, boisefrycompany.com, @boisefryco
Italian food and decor meet a traditional brick-wall corner bar. It's relaxing enough for a Sunday afternoon beer meet-up, yet classy enough for a date. 190 E. State St., Eagle, 208-939-2500, davincis2.com
34.5°Goodwood Barbecue Company
Beer and barbecue is a timeless combo, like PB and J or vodka O.J., so sipping on a cold one with the smell of braised and sauced meat hanging in the air is nice--even if it's in chain restaurant-style digs. However it does have a sweet wine rack made of railroad ties. 1140 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-884-1021, goodwoodbbq.com, @goodwoodbbq
No doubt about the theme here: If you're into Boise State football, NFL and UFC, this is your watering hole. For sports derelicts, there's pool, darts and video games to work up a thirst. Check out the 10 beers on tap, $5 lunch specials and a menu boasting a Super Burrito: one regular tortilla burrito wrapped around a deep-fried burrito. Ouch. 501 S. Main St., Meridian, 208-898-9470, muggsyssportsbar.com
34.7°Lulu's Fine Pizza
New York-style pie goes down easier when chased by frosty lager and faster after a calorie-burning mountain bike ride leaves you collapsed on the parking lot patio of this neighborhood joint. 2594 N. Bogus Basin Road, Boise, 208-387-4992, ilovelulus.com
This well-kept pub nestled just off the Boise State campus provides a comfortable haven for after-class drinkers looking for a game of Nintendo or just a cushy bar seat. 1041 S. Broadway Ave., Boise, 208-629-0029, rbarboise.com
One of the region's many bars inside a bowling alley. Patrons say the bowling ball pitchers that resemble giant bongs and the good "value" on well drinks--bar-speak for healthy pours--make the place stand out. Try beating this for a Great Recession special: unlimited bowling, burger, fries and a soft drink for $8 every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. 324 S. Meridian Road, Meridian, 208-888-2048, meridianbowlinglanes.com
34.9°The Red Room Tavern
Eclectic velvet art and vinyl album covers glow eerily under red lighting, lending cred to the descriptive moniker of this downtown fringe bar. A surprisingly laid-back staff and clientele provide a non-judgmental audience for local musicians. 1519 W. Main St., Boise, 208-331-0956, @red_roomboise
34.9°White Water Pizza: and Pasta
Description: open, airy, family-owned and family-friendly restaurant with stone fireplace and kayak-theme decor. The menu features pizzas with wheat or sourdough crust, and a wide variety of salads and sandwiches. The fruit cobbler is baked to order, so plan on waiting a few minutes for desert. 1510 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-888-6611, whitewaterpizza.net
Good luck finding any frills at this longstanding Kuna tavern. Long bar, quarter pool tables and photographs of customers, parties and other hijinks cover the walls. As for the name: The bar was bought in the late 1960s by the Forreys, a longtime Kuna ranching family with 4-Es as its cattle brand. 379 W. Main St., Kuna, 208-922-1853
35°Casa Del Sol
A classy yet eclectic version of a mom-and-pop Mexican restaurant, complete with an easy-going atmosphere and a two-for-one happy hour. 409 S. Eighth St., Boise, 208-287-3660, mexicanrestaurantboise.com