For the last nine years, Boise Weekly has sent out an army of testers, armed with little more than a kitchen thermometer and a few sheets of paper to record the results. Why would we do such a completely unscientific and seemingly pointless undertaking? We do it for you, dear beer-loving BW readers.
We know that everyone has an opinion on the perfect temperature of beer, some highfalutin beer lovers even break it down to temperature by variety of brew. But in the end, we have to face the simple truth that in the dog days of summer, when you're quite convinced that your flip flops will melt to the sidewalk, what you want is a frosty, cold beer, not the thermostatic justification of your beer knowledge. Once you've slaked your thirst, bone up on your beer knowledge with the story on important points in the history of beer or check out the biggest movers in our Hall of Fame.
As with most things Boise Weekly, we have limited our testing to only locally owned establishments. And when a joint is big enough to have a couple of locations, we test only one.Still, it's such a big job that we recruit a small battalion of testers to help the BW staff collect results—and limit our hangovers. And, as always, we prostrate ourselves at the feet of our testers, who demonstrate a remarkable amount of self sacrifice by moseying up to bar after bar to order pint after pint of cheap beer. Testers, you have our eternal gratitude.
Now, go forth, meander through the results. Stand amazed at the teeth-numbing temperatures of the top 10 coldest beers, then marvel at the warmest beers around, the whole time appreciating the wonder that fermentation has given us.
Testers: Amy Atkins, Sarah Barber, Andrew Crisp, Rachael Daigle, Deanna Darr, Todd Dvorak, Stephen Foster, Josh Gross, Jennifer Hernandez, Nathaniel Hoffman, Zach Hagadone, Dave Kirkpatrick, Jacob Lyman, Tara Morgan, Patti Murphy, Chris Oats, Jennifer Spencer, Lora VolkertPhotographS by: Laurie Pearman
- Laurie Pearman
- Longhorn Lounge
Where else in the heart of downtown Kuna can you see who has the longest drive, toss back some finger steaks and dance the night away? The service is attentive and quick with a healthy dose of witty banter. 458 W. Main St., Kuna, 208-922-4163.
The Beer House
There's a sense of foul-mouthed camaraderie at the Beer House. They don't serve food, but they have a backyard grill for you to barbecue your own, plus volleyball pits and horseshoes.
9751 Cory Lane, 208-322-9958.
Dry Creek Mercantile
This idyllic, neo-turn-of-the-century mercantile contains a long oak bar, dining tables, grocer's shelves and a patio where Hidden Springs parents socialize while watching their kids play tag on the expansive green out front.
5892 W. Hidden Springs Dr., 208-229-2001, drycreekmerc.com.
Smoke and fun permeate the walls of this dark paneled speakeasy, where billiard balls crack loudly and the beer pong table awaits. 3544 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-343-7447.
Bright and open hotel bar inside one of Boise's most established hotels. Lots of TVs, perfect to catch the game and a snack when you're far from home. 1800 Fairview Ave., 208-344-7691.
Outpost Cafe at the Boise Airport
Head out to your local airport and grab a cold one. This one, ladies and gents, is cold. The Outpost not only serves icy booze but has a full menu. Boise Airport, 208-383-3110.
River Rock Alehouse
Inside it's casual friendliness. Outside, there's a patio for chilling. With two dozen beers on tap, mostly imports and microbrews, and the usual pub food from the grill, it's a good spot to wait out the after-work Eagle traffic. 228 E. Plaza St., Ste. Q, Eagle, 208-938-4788.
With arguably the largest patio-to-interior floorspace ratio, Solid is a welcome addition to the BODO bar scene, not only as a place you want to hang out, but as a place offering late-night food. Can you say chicken and waffles?
405 S. Eighth St., 208-345-6620.
Rack 'em on one of the pool tables and check out the wall of memories. Chow down a Totino's grozen pizza while you admire the giant tennis ball dangling from the ceiling, just don't touch. 379 E. Main St., Kuna.
It's dark and well suited to its live-music-and-liquid-lovin' crowd. Liquid also has serious patio bragging rights and just recently added food. 405 S. Eighth St., 208-287-5379, liquidboise.com.
- Laurie Pearman
- Hooligan's Pub
The only place we know where "teriyaki stix" is a menu item. Hooligan's is the spot for pool and Saturday night karaoke. 10704 Overland Road, 208-376-9800.
Boise Fry Company
Not only is the beer served cold at this fry-n-burger joint, but it's also served in glasses made from recycled wine bottles. Scantily clad in salt and peanut oil, the taters that make the name crave a local lager to wash them down. 111 Broadway Ave., 208-495-3858, boisefrycompany.com.
Harry's Bar and Grill
A big, three-sided bar is the center of this family friendly grill. Exposed ducts overhead lend an industrial feel, while plate glass windows provide views of the Treasure Valley's ever-changing weather. 2032 E. Overland Road, Meridian, 208-888-9868.
Just because you're seeing a movie doesn't mean you can't have a beer, does it? Well at least not at this Boise art-house institution that has a sweet little patio. 646 Fulton St., 208-342-4222, theflicksboise.com.
In first place: the 2009-2010 Boise Masters bowling league, sponsored by Boulevard Bar at 20th Century Lanes. Now you know why they're celebrating inside the clean, cozy bar and on the enclosed, covered patio. 4079 Chinden Blvd., Garden City.
Lindy's Steak House
Lindy's wears the crown for the best damn finger steaks in town. You can play shuffleboard and smoke cigarettes in the lounge, but then chow-down, smoke-free, in the dining room. 12249 Chinden Blvd., Boise, 208-375-1310.
Gigantic breaded prawns are the appetizer of choice at this classic half-century-old Western lounge and steakhouse, where loyal guests have returned for decades. 3132 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-342-4161, stagecoachboise.com.
The lounge is one-stop entertainment in the Treasure Valley's biggest little city. Go for the cold beers, house-made finger steaks and onion rings, stay for the dancing, karaoke, beer selection, hospitable service and giant patio. 751 W. Fourth St., Kuna, 208-922-4421, creeksidekuna.com.
Gino's Italian restaurant
Gino's isn't known for beer. Gino's is known for killer minestrone soup and tender osso bucco in a spacious new location where hungry patrons from Star, Nampa, Eagle, Meridian and downtown Boise flock. 3015 W. McMillan Road, Meridian, 208-887-7710.
A friendly staff keeps the setting cheerful, while alternating splashes of bright red and yellow brighten an otherwise understated decor. Heavy, chilled mugs keep the beer cold throughout your meal. 3083 S. Bown Way, 208-345-8464, casamexicoidaho.com.
Player's Pub and Grill
Homemade soups and pot roast Wednesdays make the pub inside Westy's Garden Lanes more than a bowling alley bar. Regulars go to this Garden City hideout for the $4 burger-fries-and-chilled-draft lunch. 5504 Alworth, Garden City, 208-376-6563, playerspubandgrill.com.
Ves's Broadway Bar
Ves's offers a restaurant, pool tables, big screens and enthusiastic patrons. You never know who will be there. It's where the AARP meets Animal House. 1712 Broadway Ave., 208-342-9951.
Now that the cool kids are moving up to the Bench, they need a watering hole. We suggest they pull up a stool at Janet's, order a sandwich and a pint and hang out for a bit. They'll be drawn into a pickup game of pool or electronic darts before they know it. 574 Vista Ave., 208-342-7620.
Busters Sports Bar
At this family-friendly sports bar Dad and Mom can watch the game while their ankle-biting offspring chomp on hamburgers served by waitresses in short skirts and tight tank tops. Smokers can puff away on the big, sunny patio out front. 1396 E. State St., Eagle, 208-938-1800, busterssportsbar.com.
Flatbread Community Oven
A feast of Neapolitan sensibilities is warmed by the big wood-fired pizza oven, huge garlic smell, decent music and sprawling bar. 615 Main St., 208-287-4757, flatbreadpizza.com.
The Village Pub
Just follow the arrows to the neighborhood hangout. Notable for its fireplace smack dab in the center of the bar, the Village Pub also sells wine by the half liter. 9936 Fairview Ave.
A regular told us that when she moved to Boise, she looked all over town for a neighborhood bar. After just a few minutes, she knew she'd found her home away from home. Bartender Andra always offers a cheery smile with a pint of PBR. 5783 Overland Road, 208-375-6541.
Got parrot? Tiki-themed bar and club with a great patio and floating docks on Lake Harbor. Dancing rules the roost on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. 3000 N. Lakeharbor Lane, 208-853-5070, montegobayidaho.com.
African masks, copper diving helmets, surfboard paraphernalia and all manner of thatch-bedecked gimcrackery put the Reef in a "Cabo San Lucasian" class of Tiki bar. Diffuse neon reds, oranges and pinks give the interior a certain intimacy, but the rooftop patio is where it's at. 105 S. Sixth St., 208-287-9200, reefboise.com.
Hold court in a corner that looks like grandma's living room, shake your ass on the dance floor, stake out a pool game, marvel at the kitsch just about everywhere or perch high above it all on the wrought-iron balcony. You'll find 'em from 21 to 61 at this longtime Boise favorite. 621 W. Main St., 208-345-7557.
Get some pool buddies together and show off your bank shot at one of the Pocket's many quarter or hourly tables. 1487 N. Curtis Road, 208-375-2474.
The Comet, Medusa and Juno. Nope, those aren't a list of comic book superheroes. Those are a few of the pies that Casanova pulls out of its wood-fired brick oven on a regular basis. Don't let the lack of curb appeal fool you; this quaint joint serves up some of the best pizza this side of Venice. We'll give you five-to-one odds that your first bite of Jimmy The Greek (olive oil, feta, spinach, tomato, Kalamata olives) won't be your last. 1204 S. Vista Ave., 208-331-3535, casanovapizzeria.com.
Gil's K-9 Bar
- Laurie Pearman
- Gil's K-9 Bar
On first impression, Gil's seems like the kind of place that inspires a loyal clientele. On second glance, that group of hard-core regulars seems like a pretty welcoming crew, especially when viewed from a barstool perch or the shuffleboard table. 2506 Main St., 208-345-4420.
Willi B's Sandwich Saloon
Willi B's is from another era. Cattle-branded wooden booths crowd the small bar/sandwich joint and old post office boxes line the wall. But beyond all levels of awesomeness, beer is included in the lunch special. 225 N. Fifth St., 208-331-5666, willibs.com.
Peeling paint, worn-out upholstery and gizzards on the menu make this a truly fantastic dive bar. A big surprise: They serve cheap champagne by the bottle. 229 W. Franklin Road, Meridian, 208-888-4075.
Beers, bros and Black Sabbath. Tom Grainey's is securely smashed in the middle of the wild rumpus that is Sixth and Main streets. Most nights, live music cuts through the smoky fog and drunk dudes do what drunk dudes do. 109 S. Sixth St., 208-345-2505.
The Garage / Lucky 13
Industrial garage doors open the interior to the patio giving Lucky 13 a nice airy feel. The diverse clientele, plastic cups and paper plates make it feel something like a pizza picnic at a family reunion. 3662 S. Eckert Road, 208-344-6967, lucky13pizza.com.
Angell's Bar and Grill
After nearly 30 years, this nearly subterranean eatery owns almost an entire block in the heart of downtown. The sub-Saharan decor and Tommy Bahama vibe ensure this oasis is no mirage--the eyes of wall-mounted ibex heads follow your every move. 999 Main St., 208-342-4900, angellsbarandgrill.com.
The Buffalo Club
Live bands, raucous crowds and a big dance floor make this a wild country bar. 10206 Fairview Ave., 208-321-1811.
This cantina-style Hyde Park haunt courts the college crowd with $1 taco Thursdays and nightly drink specials. The partially enclosed patio is comfy year round, if you can snag a seat. 1512 N. 13th St., 208-323-4688.
The Quarter Barrel
- Laurie Pearman
- The Quarter Barrel
This former NASCAR-themed bar has been cleaned out and turned into a small, non-smoking concert venue. Karaoke on Thursdays and an enclosed patio for cig puffers. 4902 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-322-3430.
This dark watering hole provides pool tables, a jukebox and enough neon beer signs to line Bronco Stadium. 3907 W. Overland Road, 208-336-4707.
Stylish furnishings and a fire-engine red quartzite bar define the lounge inside this contemporary Italian restaurant. The micro of the month is selected to complement the upscale Italian fare served in the dining room and on the cottonwood-shaded patio. 775 S. Rivershore Drive, Eagle, 208-938-1900, bellaaquilarestaurant.com.
Bull's Head Station
An airy, open bar with hardwood floors, burgundy leather seats downstairs and a cozy, English pub-style joint upstairs with a full menu of British and American classics. Check out the rotating entertainment including poker tournaments and dance nights in the room next to the upstairs pub. 1441 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-855-5858.
Cheerleaders Sports Bar and Grill
Flat screen tellies are everywhere you look, as are waitresses wearing tight tops and knee socks at this colorful, cavernous sports bar. 3541 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-939-9209, cheerleaderssbg.com.
Donnie Mac's Trailer Park Cuisine
The most exciting bar stools in town for sure--bounce up and down on the leather, saddle-style seating as you enjoy roadkill cuisine and beer and wine in this ironically themed trailer park restaurant. 1515 W. Grove St., 208-384-9008, donniemacgrub.com.
Jakers Bar and Grill
A long sweeping bar separates the two dining sections of this popular eatery that offers nightly specials and a great happy hour. 3268 E. Pine St., Meridian, 208-288-0898, jakers.com.
Pitchers and Pints
This funky, intimate and friendly space is decorated with personalized $1 bills and features a covered patio and pool table out back. One of the best neighborhood pubs around, despite not being in a neighborhood. 1108 Front St., 208-287-0357. mypitchersandpints.com.
A decadent multi-level makeout palace, Sin is complete with red lounge lighting and an enormous multimedia setup, including an on-stage stripper pole. 1124 W. Front St. 208-342-3375, sinboise.com.
Nut House Sports Bar and Grill
Twelve tap handles, a menu of nuts to nosh on and house-made pickled eggs make it easy to spend time watching sports on the joint's 14 TVs. 12505 W. Chinden Blvd., Boise, 208-378-8273, nuthouseboise.com.
Just looking at the walls will remind you of all the beers that your dad used to tell you about when you were too young to pound 'em yourself. After you tire of the beer nostalgia you can always play some darts or pool. 751 W. Fourth St., Kuna, 208-922-4421.
Sushi? Check. Gelato martinis? Check. Draught beer? Checkety-check. Live music on the patio on Wednesday afternoons? Yep, that too. 2053 E. Fairview Ave., Meridian, 208-846-8410, gelatocafeofidaho.net.
The azure lighting above the bar in no way indicates a blue light special--prices match quality in this high-end arena. The extravagant establishment's wrap-around patio offers prime viewing for the annual Twilight Criterium--book early or forget it. 981 W. Grove St., 208-383-4300, chandlersboise.com.
O'Michael's Pub and Grill
- Laurie Pearman
- O'Michael's Pub and Grill
If you're going to do some incognito day-drinking, O'Michael's is the place. A scant few rays of sunshine peek through the covered windows and mounted animal heads smile from the walls. Friendly staff, fried stuff and stiff drinks. 2433 N. Bogus Basin Road, 208-342-8948, omichaelspub.com.
Rick's Press Room
From the nice selection of micros to the salmon wrapped in potato to the hometown service, Rick's Press Room represents everything that is good about classic Americana. 130 E. Idaho Ave., Meridian, 208-288-0558, rickspressroom.net.
Turner's Sports Bar
Just the basics at this neighborhood joint: Dark, smoky atmosphere, pool tables and liberal pours. But what gives with the Tiki vibe? 4022 State St., 208-342-9090.
Located next to an Indian market, McCleary's brings Irish flavor to Boise. Play air hockey while gazing at trinkets from the land of Michael Collins adorning the pub's olive-colored walls. 604 N. Orchard Ave., 208-342-3007.
Ben's Crow Inn
Inside, soft light and lots of wood paneling. Outside, one of the best patios in town with a great view. An East Boise institution for more than a quarter of a century and still going strong. 6781 Warm Springs Ave., 208-342-9669.
This sporty, pubsy spot has 23 beers on tap and plenty of bottle choices. Feeling clubby? Then join the joint's mug club. At $40, membership buys you a catered dinner and your name etched in your very own glass tankard. 6928 W. State St., 208-853-0526, brewsbrothersonline.com.
Red Room Tavern
The Red Room's aesthetic mixes hipster-punk- basement and Goth-chick-bedroom. But while its dive bar roots lend it just enough grunge to feel laid back, the joint has enough chic to cut through the sleaze. 601 W. Main St., 208-343-7034.
Strikers Bar in Meridian Lanes
Professional dart games with professional dart players served with a side of weekend karaoke, attentive service and cold beer--if that isn't enough for you, there is always bowling. 324 S. Meridian Road, Meridian, 208-888-2048, meridianbowlinglanes.com.
Visual Arts Collective
- Laurie Pearman
- Visual Arts Collective
Art shows, concerts and theater performances are on the docket and three locally crafted Sockeye Brewery offerings are on tap. The venue is huge but the attitudes aren't big. 3638 Osage St., Garden City, 208-424-8297, visualartscollective.com.
White Water Saloon
Ya got darts, ya got locals imbibing and ya got conversing in the early weekend afternoon about the follies of the previous week. Toss in friendly service and you can't ask for much more in this pre-revitalization area of Meridian. 1646 N. Meridian Road, Meridian, 208-888-3063.
Bar at the Grove Hotel
Clientele at the granite-top bar wear T-shirts and ball caps, but collars and pearls rule the tables. Live piano entertains swanky weekend crowds who know that the citrus juice in any mixer is visibly fresh-squeezed. 245 S. Capitol Blvd., 208-333-8000, grovehotelboise.com.
Sun Ray Cafe
Where Spandex-clad bikers and their offspring go to replenish depleted calories the Sun Ray Cafe patio in Hyde Park is always packed with pitchers and pizzas, due in no small part to the expansive streetside patio. 1602 N. 13th St., 208-343-2887.
The Crescent is known for its "No Lawyers" cuisine: Lawyer Fries (aka Rocky Mountain Oysters), the Jailhouse Burger and the Court Reporter Club. Don't think they're serious about their lawyer ban? Just try them, we dare you. 5500 W. Franklin Road, 208-322-9856, no-lawyers.com.
36th St. Bistro
A fancy affair attached to an enormous garden center. Plants cover every surface, offering a lush and upper-crust place to get a beer. 3769 Woody Drive, 208-433-5108, 36streetgardencenter.com.
Start with the homemade spicy deviled eggs. Move to the steamed clams or hand-cut tenderloin finger steaks drenched in beer batter. Then try burning it all off with a game of horseshoes in the pit out back. There's a reason there's no such thing as a quick drink at the Dutch Goose. 3515 W. State St., 208-342-8887, dutchgoose.com.
Goodwood Barbecue Co.
This family friendly barbecue joint has brisket, ribs, steak and waiters in crisp white shirts who grind fresh pepper on your salad. It also has a comfy bar where you can wait for your table with a cold one in hand. 7849 W. Spectrum, 208-658-7173, goodwoodbbq.com.
10th St. Station
One door and no windows mean only well-adjusted eyes can distinguish patrons' identities in this intimately smoky scene. Clandestine meetings over stiff drinks and generous pours surely draw in the likes of Jimmy Hoffa--or maybe a local judge. 104 N. 10th St., 208-344-2677.
Little Dutch Garden
A literal neighborhood bar, this home-converted-into-a-tavern joint sits in between brick homes and sketchy apartments. One can play pool or foosball with the regular clientele. 910 S. Owyhee St., 208-342-9034.
Smoky Mountain Pizza and pasta
Sure, you can get one heck of a tasty slice, but there's also a surprisingly nice wine selection and a happy hour from 2-6 p.m., just the combination to keep everyone happy for hours on end. 415 E. Parkcenter Blvd., 208-429-0011, smokymountainpizza.com.
After nearly a century of service, the "Bucket" commits as much to local bands and indie music as it does to its 16 taps. The sultry and historic back bar caters to the three wise men--Jack, Jim and Jose. 1010 W. Main St., 208-345-6605, thebouquet.net.
From country to rock and hip-hop, if you request it, they'll play it inside this spacious cinder block dance and pool hall. Bar scrip is the prize at Wednesday poker tourneys. 3933 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-429-9339.
Although Leku Ona serves up authentic Basque food, one need look no further than the bar for a good time. Classed-up drinking with tapas, picon punches and a healthy pour of vino seven days a week. 117 S. Sixth St., 208-345-6665, lekuonaid.com.
Main Street Bistro
MSB's famous confiscated fake ID trophy board is gone these days, but the Bistro is still party central for the young, single, skin-to-win crowd. 609 W. Main St., 208-345-9515.
Stubs Sports Bar
- Laurie Pearman
- Stubs Sports Bar
A wide selection of appetizers, pizza, salad, sandwiches and tacos with budget-friendly specials every day. Eclectic sports memorabilia decor, TVs along all the walls--hey, it's a sports bar. 3662 Findley Ave., 208-336-7882.
Sure, it's subterranean, but with access to the upstairs bar, a party atmosphere and live music, it's anything but dark. 109 S. Sixth St., 208-345-2505.
With free limo service and 12 hours per day that are "happy," this Western-feeling bar is a lesson in economics. Unfortunately, it's also temporarily closed. 622 W. Idaho St., 208-336-258.
Mediterranean in all respects, Cazba now houses the bar, Opa, in its cloud-muraled walls. Chase your hummus with a cold beer, either perched on a cloth-upholstered stool at the bar or from a prime people-watching spot on the patio. 211 N. Eighth St., 208-381-0222.
Masks, gators and crustaceans on the wall; crawfish, catfish and collards on the menu; the ebullient Chef Roland in the kitchen--slow down and enjoy. 1221 W. Boise Ave., 208-344-4387.
An elegant, old-school hotel martini bar where an evening can be both anonymous and familiar and time can stand still. 1109 Main St., 208-343-4611, owyheeplaza.com.
OK, so it's a wine bar, but that one tap of high-end beer makes it a solid option for the non-wine lovers in the group to sip a brew while enjoying a lingering, elegant lunch. 800 W. Idaho St., 208-368-0200.
Legends Sports Pub and Grill
ESPN surrounds you at Legends in the Edwards Cinema complex. Munch on pub grub while you wait for your movie. 7609 Overland Road, 208-377-1819, legendspubandgrill.com.
Sockeye Grill and Brewery
It's no wonder 100 other bars in the Treasure Valley have Sockeye's flavorful beers on tap. These people know how beer is done. The knowledgeable waitresses offer entertaining lectures on the science of beer. 3019 N. Cole Road, 208-658-1533, sockeyebrew.com.
Mulligans Bar and Eatery
With 20 beers on tap and TVs spanning the interest spectrum, Mulligans is a lively place with friendly staff and plenty of activities to keep you occupied while you nurse your cold beer(s). 601 S. Main St., Meridian, 208-884-3737.
Burger 'N Brew
A relaxed atmosphere with plenty of TVs and big tables for groups and softball teams. Free popcorn and 24 rotating micro taps. 6928 W. State St., 208-853-0526.
Lock, Stock and Barrel
Fancy pants drinking with a regular line up of live music on stage. Otis shakes 'em up behind the bar and steaks are as thick as your forearm in the restaurant. 1100 W. Jefferson St., 208-336-4266, lsbboise.com.
Rudy's Pub and Grill
Sassy bartenders pouring from 14 taps and serving delectable Kobe sliders keep neighbors going back to this family friendly Northwest pub. The Majestic movie theater and a Harley dealership nearby helps, too. 2310 E. Overland Road, Meridian, 208-884-4453, rudyspubngrill.com.
Need a beer at 7 a.m.? This dark, jukebox-heavy, Torch-owned establishment can provide it. Pinball is the pastime of choice for the clientele. 2710 Broadway Ave., 208-342-9220.
Mack and Charlie's
A perpetual line snakes outside the door of this college hangout on the weekends but weeknights are mellow enough to actually snag some quality time with the shuffleboard table and a BFC served in a special BFC koozie. What's that you say? What's a BFC? Guess you better check it out. 507 Main St., 208-343-5159, mackandcharlies.com.
Piper Pub and Grill
With a scenic second floor balcony, an entire wall of adult beverages and stellar food offerings, Piper is a classy place to rub elbows with the after-work crowd. 150 N. Eighth St., 208-343-2444, thepiperpub.com.
Twisted Timber Pub and Grill
These guys celebrated their first anniversary in June. Cool stained concrete floors, modern art, a coffee bar, a nice selection on tap and Wiis ensure they'll be celebrating many more. 4563 S. Cloverdale Road, 208-362-7157, ilovethetimber.com.
One member of the rough-but-harmless crowd in this smoky dive accused us of being undercover cops. The bartenders don't take plastic--even the po-po have to pay with cash. 517 W. Main St., 208-342-9732.
Red Eye bar and grill
Dance to live music, toss some darts, pick solids or stripes on the pool table, tee-up on the Golden Tee, or know when to hold 'em or know when to fold 'em on the multiple poker tables. Perhaps just settle down with a cold pint and talk politics with the locals. 414 W. Main St., Kuna, 208-922-9797, redeyebarandgrill.com.
Cricket's Bar and Grill
- Laurie Pearman
- Crickets Bar and Grill
This is one of the few places in Boise where you can stuff your face while you sing. Cricket's features karaoke and Taco Tuesday, an all you can eat Mexican paradise. 1228 Oakland Ave., 208-344-6235.
It's all about consistency at this tiny sports bar across from Bronco Nation. You can be sure to catch any sport you want on one of the six boob tubes. 1010 Broadway Ave., 208-384-0613.
A 21st century take on the neighborhood bar with an eclectic mix of six TV screens, WiFi, a billiards table, Internet jukebox and a patio with an appropriately urban view of Parkcenter. 404 E. Parkcenter Blvd., 208-424-8211.
Buddies Pub and Deli
The name's half right: You'll make buddies, but you'll have to order food from the Lucky Palace a few doors down. The patrons are as chatty and friendly as can be. 8654 W. Overland Road, 208-658-0906.
Cobby's Sandwich Shop
Serving killer sandwiches since 1978, Cobby's has its act down pat. There are four tap handles, picnic table seating and a rustic, cabin-like interior at the local institution's second branch. Don't get us started on the serve-yourself potato chip dispenser. 4348 Chinden Blvd., Garden City, 208-322-7401, cobbys.com.
Tavern at Bown
An innovative and well appointed take on the tavern theme with steaks, upscale bar food and brews on one side--sushi, Japanese beers and sake on the other. Nice patio in a quiet setting. 3111 S. Bown Way, 208-345-2277, tavernatbown.com.
Louie's Pizza and Italian Restaurant
Louie's is a Treasure Valley Italian dining institution and perhaps the only place where you'll find Peroni on tap, perfect to go with an order of bruschetta. 2500 E. Fairview Ave., Meridian, 208-884-5200, louiespizza.com.
20th Century Lanes
Who doesn't want beer with bowling? The real question is: Who wouldn't want $6 pitchers with Cosmic Bowling on Monday nights after 10 p.m.? 4712 W. State St., 208-342-8695, 20thcenturylanes.com.
Cowgirls Saloon and Tequilaria
You can get your weekly fill of hip-hop or country music frills in this expansive space just outside of downtown Kuna. After you've completed your dance on the bar--specially designed to support all sorts of rump-shaking--and chit-chatted with the outstanding staffers, make sure you head over to the gift shop to buy a Cowgirls thong for your lil' sweet thang. 353 Ave. E, Kuna, 208-922-9522, cowgirlsaloon.com.
Tom kah gai. Martini. Repeat. If you must, throw in a beer. Happy hour at this upscale Thai joint is surprisingly affordable, making it the perfect place to start off an evening of downtown merrymaking. 750 W. Idaho St., 208-344-8424, maithaigroup.com.
Sage green walls and a three-sided sushi bar with a smooth black dining counter set the stage for Ahi's friendly sushi chefs. Kirin on tap helps to put out the tongue-fire lit by the Damn SOB roll. 1193 Winding Creek, Ste. 104, Eagle, 208-938-3474, ahisushibar.com.
The Torch 2
You'll need a torch to see inside but this gentlemen's club offers the regular bar fare with a sprinkling of scantily clad seductresses writhing on poles. At this Boise institution, it's not so much about being seen, as it is about staying in the shadows. Bottoms up. 610 S. Vista Ave., 208-336-4747, thetorchlounge.com.
It's a New York-style Italian restaurant and full bar in an historic building in Eagle serving a good selection of imported beer and microbrews, wine and liquor. Live music and wine tasting every Thursday. The ambiance is relaxed and welcoming for 20-somethings as well as octogenarians. 190 E. State St., Eagle, 208-939-2500, davincis2.com.
Can't remember how to pronounce it? Think "swizzlestick." Tasty pizzas, salads and roasted chicken, good tap beer selection and comfy outdoor patio with wide-screen view of the Foothills. 7330 W. State St., 208-853-7757, pizzalchik.com.
- Laurie Pearman
- The Plank
As the name suggests, the Plank is stuffed to the gills with pirate flair including flags and a skeleton wench. Adorned with big screen TVs and a patio, this bar welcomes all mateys aboard. 650 S. Vista Ave., 208-336-1790, theplankboise.com.
The Sympo has that special brand of dingy useful for those days when you feel so downspirited that you don't want to get out of your sweats. Populated by friendly customers and their dogs, for whom downtown Boise is a little too "freaky-deaky." 2801 Fletcher St., 208-342-9420.
WhiteWater Pizza and Pasta
Family friendly, rustic and wide open, Whitewater Pizza and Pasta is where you can reminisce about those river memories of yesteryear over a cold pint and a slice of delicious pizza. 1510 N. Eagle Road, Meridian, 208-888-6611, whitewaterpizza.net.
This tiny hole-in-the-wall hosts an annual golf tourney and is a gathering place for Nascar fans. 3395 N. Five Mile Road, 208-376-0074.
Berryhill and Co.
Boldly departing from the usual peanuts and pretzels bar snacks, the free hors d'oeuvres on the semi-circular bar often involve smoked salmon and chevre. Subtle and sassy, the black-clad staff keep the microbrews endlessly flowing from their taps. 121 N. Ninth St., 208-387-3553, berryhillandco.com.
There is a fireplace that once functioned. But patrons bent on tossing shot glasses into the fire doused that flame. Classic-rock juke, pinball, darts and shuffleboard add some warmth. 1610 N. 31st St., 208-342-9075.
This far north of the border, free salsa dance lessons draw everyone from hip shakers to hippies. Only a cold beer could cool the steamy tango. 219 N. 10th St., 208-343-3397.
With a spacious, green-hued atmosphere and a fine wood-carved mural of the Boise skyline, the recently re-opened and spiffed-up Eastside Tavern plays host to a slew of video games, a wide open pool area, shuffleboard, electronic dartboards and an above-par selection of liquor and beer. 610 E. Boise Ave., 208-345-3878.
Huge patio, pool tables and an unlimited selection of music on the Internet jukebox. With its rustic sports bar vibe, Muggsy's is the place to go in Meridian when you need to quench your thirst or watch the Broncos on game day. 501 S. Main St., Meridian, 208-898-9470, muggsyssportsbar.com.
This authentic country saloon feels like a slice of the old Wild West featuring a long, hardwood bar worn smooth by the forearms of countless working men cradling Budweisers and Marlboros. 5467 Glenwood St., Garden City, 208-322-6699, shortyssaloon.com.
Yes, there are the requisite bowling lanes, arcade games, pool, pinball and air hockey, but it's made all so much more interesting with the addition of a few pints. 4860 Emerald St., 208-344-2695.
Highlands Hollow Brewhouse
The Bogus Basin beer stop-off brews its own ales and hosts lots of drafts. The venue feels like a ski shack, with beer-robilia on the walls--makes ya wanna get snowed in. 2455 Harrison Hollow Lane, 208-343-6820, highlandshollow.com.
Q's Billiards and Eatery
- Laurie Pearman
- Q's Billiards and Eatery
The lamps over the pool tables glow green like an exotic beetle. Play pool, drink beer, grab a bite to eat. Play pool, drink beer ... you get the idea. 6570 Fairview Ave., 208-322-9122.
Beer pong and Bronco swag are the prominent features of this hidden gem on Broadway. Ask for a rum and coke, one of the few liquor concoctions available. 550 Broadway Ave., 208-761-3076.
This speakeasy style saloon features wooden booths, an antique cash register, vintage lighting and old style chairs. But it abdicates the typical smoky atmosphere for drinks and music. 513 Main St., 208-345-6344.
Kay and Tracy's 127 Club
The expansive space includes something for everyone: pool, darts, live music, hunks of prime-rib--some of the best in the Treasure Valley--and even bags of salt and vinegar chicharrones hanging behind the bar. 127 E. Idaho Ave., Meridian, 208-884-0122.
Buster's Sports Bar
Scantily clad waitresses serve families and the college crowd as a dozen big screens blare every sports game imaginable in this Boise State crazed bar and restaurant. 1326 Broadway Ave., 208-345-5688, busterssportsbar.com.
Hyde Park Pub
With a healthy stock of regulars--even at noon--patio seating and a Hyde Park location, the bar affords patrons a laid-back style of imbibing. 1501 N. 13th St., 208-336-9260.
Red Feather Lounge
Mellow and moody but with an approachable quotient of cool, Red Feather Lounge hits all the right notes: fine dining, drinks on the patio or a swanky night on the town. With relatively tight quarters, you can sit in one of the half-dozen or so plush booths or kick it upstairs. 246 N. Eighth St., 208-429-6340. justeatlocal.com.
Not many bars have a fireplace. This hidden gem complements the white bricked standout with a jukebox, pool table, arcade games and a scattering of televisions. 813 S. Vista Ave.
Fresco, ivy covered walls and wood paneled booths give an Italian flair to a Boise State favorite. Make sure your beer comes with their one-of-a-kind fabric coasters. 1301 S. Capitol Blvd., 208-344-7272, papajoesboise.com.
Located directly across from Bronco Stadium, it's no surprise Suds caters to the college crowd. It features six televisions, a few pool tables, blue and orange walls and healthy mix of eye candy. 1024 Broadway Ave., 208-345-9656, sudstavern.com.
This new eatery has a slick but comfy bistro feel and is a nice addition to the Bown Crossing scene. It highlights local ingredients, with offerings like paninis, homebaked pastries and hearty salads. Don't miss the patio.
3110 S. Bown Way, 208-338-8887.
Native American murals and movie star cowboy portraits greet patrons at this strip mall hidden treasure. Complete with a fireplace, pool tables and seating galore, everyone seems like they're fixtures in the bar. 4900 Emerald St., 208-343-5817.
The Busted Shovel
The "Harley only" parking sign out front and leather-clad clientele mark this as a biker bar. Don't miss the chili--the chef won the Meridian Fireman Association's cook-off.
704 Main St., Meridian, 208-288-2217, bustedshovel.com.
Lucky Dog Tavern
Dark, stylish gay friendly bar with pool, patio and dancing. Combines the look of a downtown club with comforting vibe of a neighborhood dive. 2223 Fairview Ave., 208-333-0074, luckydogtavern.com.
Kahootz Steak and Ale House
Boasting 44 taps, Kahootz isn't your average suburban steakhouse, they take beer as seriously as their beef. Make sure you order up their famous sizzling bread pudding. 1603 N. Main St., Meridian, 208-895-9861, gotokahootz.com.
Sully's Pub and Grill
Right on Star's main drag is an Irish pub and grill that serves Shepherd's Meatball Pie with a side of Smithwick's. Add a lively staff and a family friendly environment and you have a rockin' night out in Star. 11123 State St., Star, 208-286-7743, sullys-idaho.com.
With intimate, group and patio seating, Falcon Tavern inspires patrons to linger over burgers and suds, discussing the ideal amount of foam. 705 W. Bannock St., 208-947-3111, falcontavern.com.
Alterknit Lounge at KFCH
- Laurie Pearman
- Alterknit Lounge
The bonus of only being open on Knitting Factory concert nights is that there's always live music. Less thronged than the main floor bar, expect to rub shoulders with a VIP en route to the private lounge. 416 Ninth St., 208-367-1212, bo.knittingfactory.com.
The last stop on a night of bar hopping has more than just pizza. The place also hosts a respectable collection of beers. Sometimes it's crowded, but it's worth it. 205 N. Eighth St., 208-344-7783, pieholeusa.com.
Esta cantina es la mejor que la ciudad de Boise. Totopos y salsa son gratis durante la "happy hour," y los azulejos y estuco construccion son exactamente igual con Mexico. 404 S. Eighth St., 208-344-3222, cafeole.com.
Casa del Sol
A cozy brick-walled interior draws extra warmth from sun-themed artistic pieces hanging at eye-level around the room. $2 tacos all day long are the bargain of the century. 409 S. Eighth St., 208-287-3660.
Jo's Sunshine Lounge
In the shadow of St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center sits a motel lounge that oozes old-school. Live music, free WiFi and karaoke nights offer entertainment; vinyl booths, a knotty pine bar, free popcorn and a bartender who might call you "Hun," offer a retro vibe--although there's no sunshine to be found. 1115 N. Curtis Road, 208-376-2700, jossunshinelounge.com.
There's precious little more important to know about the Lobby except that you can win a hefty bar tab during Wednesday night's indoor tricycle races. Only the boring don't dig a bar with that kind of spunk. 760 Main St., 208-343-3388, thelobbyboise.com.
"Down at Dino's Bar and Grill / The boys are back in town / The boys are back in town / Friday night they'll be dressed to kill." Though Dino's definitely has been updated, the wide-open floor plan and big stage (and regularly scheduled live music) gave us some sweet little pangs of nostalgia. That, and the fact that they are once again serving Derailers, a dangerous concoction served in a bucket. A bucket! 4802 Emerald St.
Kit Kat Klub
Sitting on the border between Nampa and Meridian, the Kit Kat Klub is a tried-and-true bikini bar that has entertained valley residents for years. Watching scantily clad women dance isn't your thing? No problem. With their plethora of pool tables you're always sure to find an open one. 4842 W. Franklin Road, Meridian, 208-888-7731.
TableRock Brewpub and Grill
Boise's original brewpub is a big, airy beer hall with sand-colored wood highlights and colorful posters advertising its bevy of homegrown brews. Standard fare like mushroom burgers and cobb salads fill out the lunch menu. Located just a short jaunt from the Boise River, it's a good spot to end a day on the Greenbelt. 706 Fulton St., 208-342-0944. tablerockbrewpub.com.
Be prepared to plop down the cash for a cold one in this casually elegant eatery. With an extravagant fireplace, antler studded beams and roomy patio, Willowcreek impresses the masses. Especially when you can kick back with some sweet potato twigs and a few pals. 2273 S. Vista Ave., 208-343-5544, willowcreekgrill.com.
With a patio facing Boise's historic Basque Block, the nation's first restaurant distillery offers hand-crafted cocktails that showcase house-made spirits guaranteed to lift your spirits higher than Bardenay's exposed beams. If you're not in the mood for the hard stuff, the eatery and bar offer an impressive array of food, wine and beer, keeping everyone in the party happy and, well, partying. 610 Grove St., 208-426-0538, bardenay.com.
Adult libations are poured and paired with gourmet pizza, leading to some interesting combinations. Grab some barstool seating for happy hour with a glass of beer or wine. 2594 Bogus Basin Road, 208-387-4992, ilovelulus.com.
The Office Bar and Grill
The Office has pool tables, a small dance floor, horseshoe pits, good burgers and a skeleton sitting at a desk. Of course, it also offers the best excuse for where you've been all day when you show up late for dinner. 6125 W. Fairview Ave., 208-377-2800.
This Boise bar is a watering hole for the hip. If you can find bike parking, the dark atmosphere will keep you there until the wee hours. 111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886, neurolux.com.
Terry's State Street Saloon
This neighborhood spot is all karaoke all the time. For those with stage fright, there's pool and plenty of courage waiting in the $2 well drinks from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Just don't hesitate with your drink order--this crew doesn't mess around. 3301 Collister, 208-331-8225.
You're won't find the coldest beer in town at Brewforia but you'll find taps that rotate out on a bi-weekly basis and more than 500 different bottled beers to choose from. Buy a growler and fill it up with whatever happens to be on tap at the time. 3030 E. Overland Road, Meridian, 208-888-7668, brewforia.com.
Flashback to the 1950s with roller skating waitresses and Elvis-era decor at this famous Boise diner. Sit at the malt shop-like counter or snuggle into a comfortable booth with the family. 3900 W. Overland Road, 208-336-2878.
It's a bar with sexy curves and high-backed black leather stools with armrests. Never mind that the island reggae music seems a little out-of-place amid white tablecloths, red roses and the finest sake in town. 150 N. Eighth St., 208-331-8208, shigejapanesecuisine.com.
The Front Door Northwest Pizza and Tap House
Escape from the mob scene on Sixth Street with sophisticated beers, classy pizzas and sandwiches and a slightly rebellious clientele. These folks are beer lovers in the finest tradition. You won't find the coldest beer here, and they're OK with that. 105 S. Sixth St., 208-287-9201, thefrontdoorboise.com.
Low-ceilinged and windowless, this crazy-cheap bar's audio component is Basque music (and sometimes dancing) from the adjoining room, along with Euskara-speaking natives who share a round before adjourning to the "members only" cardroom upstairs. 601 W. Grove St., 208-331-5097, basquecenter.com.
- Laurie Pearman
- Terrapin Station
Terrapin Station is like your stoner brother's college apartment--the requisite Bob Marley poster, a lingering musty smell and a bunch of grizzly dudes sitting around slugging beers. 1519 W. Main St., 208-342-1776.
Ha' Penny Bridge Pub
When you're in need of an Irish pub in Boise, hit up Ha' Penny. Lots of dark wood, a long bar, plenty of taps and a casual atmosphere create a Northwestern Old-World hybrid. Check out the live music and full menu. 855 Broad St., 208-343-5568, hapennybridgepub.com.
Where beer is the gold at the end of the gay-friendly rainbow. The Balcony Club's liberal crew guarantees locomotion on the dance floor. A shared patio overlooking Eighth Street is perfect for seeing without being seen. 150 N. Eighth St., Ste. 226, 208-336-1313, thebalconyclub.com.
Bittercreek Ale House
The first clue that ordering a domestic light lager might be frowned upon are the 28 tap handles, plus whatever neighboring Red Feather Lounge offers. Locavores will appreciate the beer list organized by miles-traveled-to-get-to-your-table, as well as the local-centric menu offerings. 246 N. Eighth St., 208-345-1813, justeatlocal.com/bittercreek.
Quinn's Restaurant and Lounge
To smoke or not to smoke? Quinn's answers that question. The non-smoking dining area, complete with green tables, patio and old movie posters, provides respite from the adjoining lung-clogging lounge. 1005 S. Vista Ave., 208-342-9568.
"Erin go bragh," screams the blarney banner above the pool tables. Clearly, the meat in this market is corned beef. With beer pong on Tuesdays and nickel beers on Wednesdays, quenching your thirst is fun and cheap. 199 N. Eighth St., 208-338-8939, badirish.com.
Idaho Pizza Company
A stocked salad bar, a kick-ass signature pizza and some of the nicest folks who ever piled toppings on a slab of dough make Idaho Pizza Co. an obvious stop for bite and a brew. Add in the game room, TVs and an interior that hasn't been updated since a peanut farmer was president, and you have an easy answer to the question, "Where should we meet everyone for dinner tonight?" 4218 W. Overland Road, 208-343-5455, idahopizzacompany.com.
With a granite bar top, hardwood accents and a sandstone arch over the liquor shelves, an earthy elegance pervades this upscale scene. The well-dressed crowd nestled in velveteen booths didn't seem to judge our flannel-and-denim attire. And the Greenbelt-adjacent patio is one of the best places around to relax on a warm summer night. 913 W. River St., 208-333-9800, cottonwoodgrille.com.
You'll be greeted with antlered walls, 1970s televisions and a mix of rowdy women and quiet old men at TKs, a bar honoring the finest tradition of the dive. Careful the bartender doesn't blow smoke in your face. 3231 Federal Way.
A giant sign behind the pizza kitchen states: "Pizza without beer is like PB without the J." That sums up the philosophy here. One other thing: The micro lineup is best at warmer temps. 4320 W. State St., 208-384-0000, flyingpie.com.
The Lift is a popular post-game hangout for softball and rugby teams. It features more than two dozen taps and fish tacos with pineapple salsa. How about Sunday brunch with $1 mimosas on the back patio? 4091 W. State St., 208-342-3250, theliftboise.com.
One item at this Basque Boise institution distinguishes it from all others: croquettas. The sidewalk patio and proximity to Alive After Five keep the regulars coming back all summer long. 202 S. Capitol Blvd., 208-344-2175, bargernika.com.
Classic Americana in the heart of downtown Meridian—beneath the smoky haze you'll find pool tables, a full-size shuffleboard, live music and friendly service. 116 E. Broadway Ave., Meridian, 208-888-9034.
- Laurie Pearman
Gusto is dark more than it's open but when it is open, you're likely to find a rocking party with a half-pipe inside or a death metal band on stage. The pressed tin ceiling lends the bar a dated elegant feel, but this is a plastic cup and warm beer kind of bar. 509 Main St.
Beer Through History
Beer has earned a reputation as the working man’s drink, but that title is belying its proud history. In fact, some beer-lovers have even conjectured that fermenting grain for beer was one of the reasons early hunter/gatherers settled down.
The earliest archeological evidence of brewing dates back roughly 6,000 years to ancient Sumeria—a culture that honored Ninkasi, the goddess of brewing. The Sumerians are also credited with creating the beer straw, used to drink unfiltered beer without ingesting all the sludge.
The famous Gilgamesh epic mentions beer, giving it at least partial credit for being what set the civilized man apart from the primitive man.
Ancient Egyptians were big on beer as well, with numerous recipes for the drink and a long list of medicinal uses for the brew.
Even Christian tradition mentions beer, considering it was on Noah’s supply list for the ark.
By roughly 500 C.E., monasteries had started brewing beer for their own use and are credited with being the first to use hops. By the 1300s, they were the leading producers of beer.
By the 1500s, beer was so popular among every social strata that Queen Elizabeth favored drinking an ale with breakfast. The first colonists in Virginia tried brewing their own beer but soon sent to England for better beer.
Brewing became an art form in Germany, where brewers created the first guild. In 1526, they created the first purity laws for beer.
Beer in the New World did get better, and many notable Americans owned breweries, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams.
Thanks to German immigrants in the 1850s, Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors, Stroh, Schlitz and Pabst were founded in the United States. By the 1880s, there were more than 2,000 breweries in the country.
Pressurized kegs showed up around 1900, but Prohibition (1919-1933) forced the party underground.
Just two years after the end of Prohibition, the first beer in a can (Krueger’s Finest Ale) was introduced to the mass market.
Since then, it has been all-steam-ahead for beer, leading to such milestone inventions as the beer bong and the keg stand.