The Boise beer scene is a vibrant one. Thanks to our location on the border of the original microbrew revolution, we have access to lots of labels that don't make it farther east. Add to that an array of import brews from around the world, and the beer lover here in the valley has it pretty good. Still, I'm always excited when bottles from a completely new brewery turn up. I admit I don't get out much, but on a recent visit to one of the big boxes, I spotted a couple of new labels.
The first was from Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka, California. It may be a man's world, especially when it comes to brewing, but Lost Coast is an exception. Founded in 1986 by Wendy Pound and Barbara Groom, the brewery is located in a restored 100-year-old structure that originally housed the Fraternal Order of the Knights of Pythias. Their indica IPA, with its colorful rendition of Ganesha the Elephant-God, caught my eye. It poured a hazy amber hue, softly carbonated with piney hop and grapefruit aromas. The flavor emphasis was on the hops from start to finish, lightly bitter up front, amping things up a bit on the finish. With subdued malt lurking in the background and a nice creamy texture, this medium-bodied, straightforward quaffer would go great with Asian cuisine. I'm looking forward to trying all their offerings.
The second new-to-me brewery doesn't have such a colorful history. In fact, it has no history at all. Fire Station 5 lists Portland, Oregon, as home, but you'd be hard pressed to find the address. Turns out that this is a contract label for Fred Meyer. Not a bad thing really, as exclusivity helps keep the price down, but in this case, most of the beers are eminently forgettable. The one exception is their Steam Pumper IPA. A clear soft amber in color, it offers nice big hop and fresh citrus aromas. The flavor profile is not overly aggressive, but the clean hop flavors, with a kiss of malt, are bright and citrusy, the finish nice and dry. A bit subtle for ardent hop heads, but I found its balance a refreshing change of pace.
The last new brew on the scene fills a need that has gone wanting for too long. Boiseans who have celiac disease and must maintain a wheat-and gluten-free diet have been out of luck when it comes to brew. Gluten-free beers are out there, but production has been so limited and demand so high that they haven't been widely distributed. At last, we have the sorghum-based Redbridge from Anheuser-Busch, and while supply has been spotty, the Boise Co-op has managed to get their hands on a few cases. It's not a bad brew even if you don't have celiac disease. An attractive golden amber in color, with a nicely persistent, creamy tan head, the aromas are laced with soft citrus and toffee. The flavors are surprisingly rich with lightly bitter hops, fresh grass and citrus. Kudos to this St. Louis giant for filling a niche others have ignored. :