Craft Beer on the Frontier

Beyond those backyards is nothing but scrubland as far as the eye can see. But somehow craft beer is thriving here.

Don and I decided to record a podcast while I was out visiting with him in Idaho a few weeks ago. We didn’t have a topic in mind before I got there, but one struck me like a herd of buffalo when first set eyes on Big Sky Country.

You see, Idaho still has a frontier vibe.  Travel a few miles out of Boise, and you’re in the middle of nowhere.  Keep going, and it’s even more remote.  Go a little further and you’re at Don’s house.

Yet craft beer is thriving in these vast expanses of land.  Don has a fridge full of world class beer despite the fact that he’s surrounded by bean farms and orchards and, therefore, farmers. You wouldn’t think craft beer would take off in these parts.

But spend a little time at Brewforia Beer Market in Boise and you’ll witness a steady stream of men and women who have come to browse and buy really great beer.  And the Boise Beer Fest, just two years old, is already the second or third largest beer event on the west coast, drawing folks from around the country (and one dude from Japan).  Good things are happening in Idaho.

At the center of all this activity is Brewforia’s owner Rick Boyd, a beer nerd who was so frustrated at the lack of good beer in Boise he did something about – he started hunting down and selling the best craft beer he could find, first on the Internet, then in a brick and mortar store.  Rick is also the driving force behind the Boise Beer Fest, a festival he’s determined will be one of the finest in the country.

We decided to record our latest podcast at Brewforia and have Rick as our guest to hear how it all got started, and to get his thoughts on what the future holds for good beer on the frontier.  It’s pretty cool to hear how one guy’s elbow grease is helping to make craft beer a success in the rural West.  He’s a great guy.

We were also joined by Chad Brusse (you may know him as @BeerPoet on Twitter), who helped us try some amazing beers, including Pliny the Elder, New Glarus Enigma and a Schlafly Reserve 2006.  We even popped open a homebrewed Belgian Quad sent to us by our pal in Washington Evan Burke and backed it all with the latest from Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46.

I hope you give it a listen, as I think it’s one of our best efforts yet.  I especially like the part when we figure out that Don might look manly on the east coast, but he’s actually Idaho’s version of a metrosexual!

You can click here to find it in iTunes, or just search “beer and whiskey” in the Podcast section of the iTunes Store.

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Categories: Beer, Podcast, Whiskey


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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12 Comments on “Craft Beer on the Frontier”

  1. August 31, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    That’s great how a small group (or one dude) can make such a big impact in what is otherwise a giant wasteland. 🙂

    I’d actually like to check out that Beer Fest one day, and Idaho as well. I think I’d like a place like that. BTW, if Don looks like a Metrosexual out there, I can’t imagine what people would think of me! I’d probably get beat up as soon as I entered Idaho airspace!

    • August 31, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

      Well you’ve met me Scott, so you know if I survived, you can too!

    • Don
      August 31, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

      Yes you would. Jim benefited from having me shadow him, but I’m pretty sure most people thought we were gay lovers (Not that there is anything wrong with that). BTW I hate the term “wasteland”, just because it isn’t filled with home depots and parking lots and freeways doesn’t mean its wasted. It is an important and fragile ecosystem that supports millions of animals and thousands of species. The land that is wasted in my opinion is the shit that has strip malls on it. OK off my soapbox. Just be careful if you come out here Scott, if the clothing doesn’t get you roughed up certainly comments like that will! 😉

      • August 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

        I think I backspaced over the word “wasteland” at least three times while writing this post. 🙂

        The word kept coming to mind, but it doesn’t capture what Idaho is like. I also thought using it would expose me as the east coast elitist that I am.

        • Don
          August 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

          You got that right!

    • Sherman
      September 1, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

      Wasteland? You have no idea what you’re talking about. Does this look like a wasteland to you? On the other hand, no, wait. Idaho is terrible. Nothing to see here; keep walking.

      • Don
        September 1, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

        OK, Scott is from New Jersey! He wouldn’t know a pastoral setting if it bit him on the ass. No need to get too upset. It’s a classic case of misconception. Great pics by the way!

  2. Rob Crozier
    August 31, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    I certainly take for granted what beers are available in my area and just assume I can buy anything that’s out there. It’s great to hear that even in the remotest parts of the country, craft beer is doing well.

  3. September 1, 2010 at 5:18 pm #

    Yeah I wouldn’t use the term wasteland to describe Idaho at least not the area surrounding Boise. If you want to see wasteland spend some time in Nevada, thats a wasteland.

    I had a great time chatting with Jim, Don and Chad at the store that Sunday afternoon and of course enjoying some world class beer was just a bonus. Thanks for coming by guys and I’ll see you both in Denver in about 2 weeks.

    • Don
      September 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

      Sounds Great Rick, and of course you will see me tomorrow over Lunch!

  4. Justin Boggs
    September 1, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    As a native Idahoan I can assure you that there is a lot more to Idaho than the vast scrubland you see south of Boise. Go North beyond those foothills and it get’s a lot more scenic, go just a little further south into the Owhyee Mountains and you will feel like you stepped into an old western movie.

    As to beer, well, Rick is the god of craft beer accessibility and a damn good cook too. At the rate he is going he will have blanketed the Mountain West with high quality craft beer within the decade.

    • Don
      September 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm #

      Rick is the master. Now if he can just take down the three tier distribution system in the State we will be in business!

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