I recently tried to explain the Coldest Beer issue to an out-of-town friend, who looked at me blankly and asked, "Why?" How could I respond with anything other than an equally confused, "Why not?"
Why wouldn't we celebrate the staple of summer that is cold beer? Why wouldn't we jump at an excuse to visit bar after bar, selflessly ordering pints of chilled ales, all in the name of making sure our readers know where they can order a beer that comes with the risk of brain freeze?
Granted, with more than 200 bars to test, it is one heck of an undertaking—even when keeping in mind that we only test at locally owned and operated bars that offer regular hours and have beer on tap. And there's the slightly uncomfortable looks testers get when they walk into a bar with a thermometer. But we're willing to face the raised eyebrows.
Why would we embark on this scientific-ish survey, then? It's all for the sake of keeping Boise frosty all summer.
Testers: Sam Alderman, Sadie Babits, Lauren Bergeson, Harrison Berry, Neil Campbell-Brennan, Andrew Crisp, Deanna Darr, Jen Grable, Chris Grapes, Josh Gross, Zach Hagadone, Randy King, Christina Marfice, Andrew Mentzer, Tara Morgan, Shea Sutton, Ryan Thorne, Trevor Villagrana, Jeremiah Robert Wierenga, Carissa Wolf
- Patrick Sweeney
- 26.5, Buster's Bar and Grill
Buster's Bar and Grill
The champion is dead, long live the champion. BW's Coldest Beer crowns a new frosty king this year, and this ruler resides in Eagle. Located on old State Street, away from the crazy commuter traffic, Buster's has long been a place where both locals and those cruising by on the way to various adventures can stop in and chill out. With a full menu of pub grub and a casual atmosphere, it's the kind of place where you can go to escape for a little while--and grab a seriously cold brew. 1396 E. State St., Eagle, 208-938-1800, busterseagle.com.
This cozy, upscale bar is conveniently located downtown next to Berryhill and Co. Plan B is big enough to be a giant's closet, but it's comfy and welcoming for the after-work crowd. 121 N. Ninth St., Boise. 208-387-3553, johnberryhillrestaurants.com.
This veteran-owned and operated establishment proudly boasts its support of the United States military, while offering up cocktails, beers and a variety of pub fare. Apparently, they take their mission to keep their beer cold pretty seriously. 409 S. Eighth St., Boise, 208-364-7800.
Irish-style, Old World feel in a New World small town. Includes a comfortable patio and open fire pit that might be necessary after drinking their below-freezing brews. 11123 W. State St., Star, 208-286-7743, sullys-idaho.com.
Bodacious Pig Barbecue
Barbecued daily with their own reserve of aged white oak, these pigs are ready to satisfy even the most carnivorous of patrons. 34 E. State St., Eagle, 208-514-0068, bodaciouspig.com.
El Gallo Giro
Located at the edge of Kuna's downtown, this not-so-little but welcoming eatery is comfy without being worn down. Smiling faces, big ol' bowls of scratch salsa and baskets of tortilla chips make this a great place to lean back and sip a frigid brew. 482 W. Main St., Kuna, 208-922-5169, elgallogirokuna.com.
Fatty's has a simple way of weeding out those who have had a few too many brewskies: a tall staircase separating the bar from the street. Surmount that hurdle to find a bar big on tall drinks--"Fatty-size" any beer--and a rotating list of evening entertainment. 800 W. Idaho St., Boise, 208-629-6314, drinkfattys.com.
Lindy's Steak House
Plenty of family style seating, pool and shuffleboard mixed with a beer so cold it's below freezing. You won't leave hungry, either--Lindy's has a menu filled with animal protein cooked to specification. 12249 W. Chinden Blvd., Boise, 208-375-1310.
36th Street Bistro
This bistro calls the 36th Street Garden Center home and most tables feature a plant and views of the Foothills. Upscale dining in a relaxed, open air, LEED-certified space takes patio dining to a new level. 3769 Woody Lane, Boise, 208-433-5108, 36streetgardencenter.com.
Ahi Sushi Bar
Sun and sushi await at Ahi, where the staff offers both service and recommendations, ensuring you'll find the right roll or bento to accompany your chilly draft of Japan's very own Kirin lager. 1193 E. Winding Creek Drive, Ste. 104, Eagle, 208-938-3474, ahisushibar.com.
Pinnacle Sports Grill
It appears that Pinnacle's owner is a Boise Cherry Pickers baseball fan, as memorabilia covers every inch of display space in this warm, open sports bar. 2902 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-884-4400, pinnaclesportsgrill.com.
Pollo Rey Mexican Rotisserie
This high-ceilinged, tile-appointed, lunch counter-style Mexican place specializes, as the name suggests, in chicken. But it's also a killer spot to quaff a chilly cerveza and watch the comings and goings on the corner of Eighth and Idaho streets. Waiting for a bus? Have a beer and keep an eye out for your ride. 222 N. 8th St., Boise, 208-345-0323, polloreyboise.com.
13th Street Pub and Grill
Find trendy, upscale pub food--from baked brie to a sweet chili-glazed chicken sandwich--at this Hyde Park hideaway. It's easy to have a fireside chat on the large, open patio and watch the sun go down. Bartenders serve up sass along with the drinks. 1520 N. 13th St., Boise, 208-639-8888, 13pubandgrill.com, @13thstpubgrill.
Rick's Press Room
The yellow walls at Rick's Press Room are covered floor-to-ceiling in Sharpie scribbles from satisfied customers. It's no wonder: the food is fresh and delicious, the staff (who are all family) are uber-friendly and the beer is cold as ice. Try the famous rock shrimp or potato pancakes. 130 E. Idaho St., Meridian, 208-888-0558.
One of the more upscale hotel lobby bars/restaurants in the area, this joint projects a smooth vibe with live piano music and an extensive cocktail and wine menu. 981 W. Grove St., Boise, 208-383-2222, chandlersboise.com.
Referee jersey-clad bartenders and cocktail waitresses sling freezing beers while a variety of sporting events show on myriad televisions. 3541 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-939-9209, cheerleaderssbg.com.
Harry's Bar and Grill
The customers and staff are fun and friendly, and the place has an unexpected vibe for a sports bar. One thing's for sure, though: The beer is icy cold. 2032 E. Overland Road, Meridian, 208-888-9868.
- Patrick Sweeney
- 31.9, Gramercy Park
A warm, open and well-lit interior makes Gramercy Park as inviting as the delicious smells that seem to waft constantly from its kitchen. The pizza is dynamite and the veggie "wings" will please vegetarians and fool carnivores. 1626 Wells Ave., Meridian, 208-854-7979, gramercypizzagrill.com.
The bartender picks the music, so it could be classic rock 'n' roll one day or '70s funk the next. Either way, enjoy a cool draft and a full menu, along with karaoke two nights a week and themed parties at all times of the year. 10704 Overland Road, Boise, 208-376-9800.
Modern, somewhat industrial and mellow to a fault. At the "penny bar," which is literally covered in change, a royal rewards program awaits the customer looking to take a load off. 1041 S. Broadway Ave., Boise, rbarboise.com.
Rudy's Pub and Grill
The beer is wintery and the food is fresh and delicious. The patio lined with tall hedges provides a perfect summertime escape from the Treasure Valley's heat--and the surrounding traffic. 3541 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-939-9209, rudyspubgrill.com.
Chances are you've passed The Boulevard countless times. But should you saunter into the smoke-filled dive, past its popular pool tables and dartboards manned by a jolly cast of regulars, it's clear why locals are drawn to it: the unpretentious, indelible charm. 4079 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-383-9035.
Driving by, you've most likely seen the witty signs on the side of the building. Patrons are friendly and will welcome you with bad jokes and free rein at the handy vending machine. 1712 Broadway Ave., Boise, 208-342-9951.
This establishment boasts earthy Italian styling, a robust pizza/pasta/sandwich menu and an elevated patio, not to mention one of the most abundant salad bars in town. 310 N. Fourth St., Boise, 208-342-3434, chicagoconnection.com.
Authentic Mexican food in a converted basement comes with Mexican music and colorful parrots which welcome you at the door. 1605 N. 13th St., Boise, 208-333-8330, casamexicoidaho.com, @casamexico.
Safety regulations have yet to outlaw the tossing of darts by drunks, and for good reason--it's too much damn fun. The sign on the Longhorn reads "Darts, Pool, Karaoke"; and, seriously, what more does a person need to have a good time? While listening to a good crooner, tossing a dart and sinking the eight ball, we can only imagine a cool beer going down that much easier. 458 W. Fourth St. Kuna, 208-922-4421.
Little. Yellow. Different. The Overland Bar is small, narrow and cluttered, but cheaper than you can believe and rife with karaoke heroes and shuffleboard champions. 3907 Overland Road, Boise, 208-336-4707.
The Village Pub
Living-room atmosphere in this no-frills beer-and-food pub. A large island fireplace will keep it cozy when the weather outside is as shiver-inducing as the beer. 9936 Fairview Ave., Boise, 208-375-3086.
Italian Neapolitan style in a retro-trendy setting. On hot summer evenings, lounge on the outdoor patio and bar. 345 S. Eighth St., Boise, 208-331-1400, protospizza.com, @ProtosBoise.
Colorful signatures cover the walls, while regulars line the wraparound bar at this small State Street watering hole with a handful of TVs and high-top tables. Juice junkies swear by the fresh-squeezed mimosas, served all the time. 6100 W. State St., Boise, 208-629-7381, shotsiespub.com.
A taste of California class on the Bench. Top-notch grub goes down even smoother with chilled drinks in a chill environment, complete with a bubbling creek and trees listing in the breeze just outside. 2273 S. Vista Ave., Ste. 150, Boise, 208-343-5544, willowcreekgrill.com.
- Patrick Sweeney
- 33.7, Brews Brothers
If you can stomach the lingering stale-smoke smell, this dark dive with a square wraparound bar and 23 taps is a perfect hot-day hideout, where you can zone out over a frosty brew. 6928 W. State St., Boise, 208-853-0526, brewsbrothersonline.com.
Crescent No Lawyers
Watch a game, eat some lawyer fries (Rocky Mountain Oysters), have a beer. Just leave the briefcase at the door, or it could be your "oysters" on the menu. 5500 W. Franklin Road, Boise, 208-322-9856, no-lawyers.com, @nolawyers.
Plenty of family space on the patio and a large bar top for those looking to belly up and throw back a few cold ones. You can check out the latest sporting event on one of the many TVs, or enjoy the breeze on the patio. 1760 S. Meridian Road, Ste. 100, Meridian, 208-855-0202, curbbarandgrill.com.
Lucky 13 Pizza
Wonderful outdoor tables surround the bar, where families often bike in for a pizza in the warmer months. Sit under the romantic lighting of old stoplights and Texaco signs. 3662 S. Eckert Road, Boise, 208-344-6967, lucky13pizza.com, @Lucky13Boise.
Buster's Bar and Grill
A sports bar for the man's man but the ladies will find it cool as well. The place boasts a surprisingly big bar, dining room and patio space. 1326 Broadway, Boise, 208-345-5688, busterssportsbar.com.
With terra cotta archways and plants at every turn, Gino's can feel a little chain-esque, yet it hosts some of the best Italian fare around--that's why this local fave is one of the top Best of Boise contenders every year. 3015 W. McMillan Road, Meridian, 208-887-7710.
Visual Arts Collective
This Garden City warehouse-style art gallery and performance venue attracts cutting-edge work and top-level acts. Smoking is allowed on the patio and there's plenty of parking. 3638 Osage St., Garden City, 208-424-8297, visualartscollective.com.
A quiet, simple and elegant place to dine and enjoy impressive natural lighting and a lush, green back patio near the Boise River. 775 S. Rivershore Lane, Eagle, 208-938-1900, bellaaquilarestaurant.com.