“Have you been to 10 Barrel yet?"
Weeks after its Boise debut, the phrase is likely to come up in conversation among even casual beer drinkers around town.
|10 Barrel Boise location|
From about a block away, it hits you that you’re in for something special. The formerly historic, but somewhat nondescript 1920s-era Sherm Perry Building at 9th and Bannock streets might as well be a new structure. The old facade has been wiped away in favor of a look that could be described as industrial chic. Almost fully open to 9th, the design offers an illusion of no walls on that side of the building, and, taking a cue from the Bend pub, the Bannock side’s walk-up bar offers a perfect spot to park your bones for a cold one.
During a tour and a tasting with renowned Northwest brewer Shawn Kelso, that became clear early on. Kelso ended a legendary run at Barley Brown’s in Baker City to become 10 Barrel’s Boise brewmaster and moved here with his family last summer.
On this particular Saturday in May, he was coming off a “light” 75-hour work week after putting in many 100-hour weeks to get the place ready for its April 22 opening.
“I’m still trying to recover from it,” he said.
|10 Barrel taplist|
|Shawn Kelso and Sean Deter|
One of the primary things setting 10 Barrel apart from competitors right now is the food. There are less than a handful of places in the area right now where you can get quality, locally brewed craft beer and upscale pub food in one location. 10 barrel has it all.
On my visit, the pizzas appeared to be a popular pick, and there is no shortage to choose from. You can go for a basic pepperoni, or you can get more adventurous with, say, the All-American Cheeseburger Pie. This monster features a house-made 1,000 island base, ground chuck, applewood-smoked bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mushrooms and Swiss cheese.
We followed that up with a bounty of other offerings from the menu. Shawn’s Chicken Fried Chicken with sweet chili mayo was solid, as was my friend’s Snake River Farms Kobe Sando, featuring house smoked and roasted Kobe and horseradish aoli.
My favorites were the deceptively spicy Sriracha and lime wings, with a delayed kick that caught me off-guard but in a good way, and the rich-beyond-belief mac and cheese with smoked gouda and cheddar, bacon and jalapenos.
I've mowed mine five times this week.
Sean is a beer enthusiast, music freak and journalist who grew up in Salem, Ore., and has made his home in Boise for the past decade. Follow him on Twitter @babysean.