Following a two-day, 650-mile drive — which featured a stop in Lake Tahoe, lunch in a semi-abandoned town somewhere in the wastes of Nevada, a tense 6 a.m. conversation with middle-aged Burger King employees, a Wiffle ball game on the side of an alfalfa field, and farmer folk heckling me while I attempted to urinate behind some sunflowers — my former college roommates and I, along with a hundred or so strangers from across the U.S., beheld the most amazing phenomenon we had ever seen: a total solar eclipse.
In Weiser, Idaho, just a literal stone’s throw away from the Oregon border, we watched in awe as the moon completed its careful, gradual slide over the sun. The sky went black and the local temperature dropped by 15 degrees. Birds went to sleep. Bugs woke up.
Totality lasted for about two minutes, all said and done. It was the craziest, and the most oddly spiritual, thing I’d seen in 22 years of life. Words and pictures cannot adequately describe it — well, at least not my words and pictures.
The eclipse ended smack dab in the middle of lunchtime. My bros and I had since exhausted our camping food (sausages and wheat bread), so we thought it a good idea to treat ourselves to lunch and some beer somewhere nearby. Bittercreek Alehouse in Boise, ID, sounded like an ideal place for both.
About Bittercreek Alehouse
The city of Boise, ID, had a sort of hipster, small-town-in-a-big-city vibe to it. It possessed all the modernity you could want from a 21st-century city without the cold concrete apathy of LA or New York. It resembled Seattle, I’d say, but on a smaller scale. Smaller buildings, thinner streets, tighter weed laws, fewer people, fewer homeless. The homeless thing didn’t really surprise me. Given Boise’s isolation, hobos would have to be either completely mad or supremely badass to test the conditions of the desert gauntlet.
When I first sat down at Bittercreek Alehouse, I was under the impression that it was a brewery or a brewpub or something along those lines. Something with house-made beer + food. That wasn’t the case, exactly — they didn’t brew their own beer.
While they didn’t make anything of their own, it was soon clear to me that Bittercreek was run by true brew enthusiasts. They hosted beers from breweries all over the American West as well as a select few from Austria and Germany. Most of the breweries, both American and Bavarian, were completely foreign to me, though they did have a few familiar faces sprinkled in, like Deschutes and Modern Times.
Still, Bittercreek’s non-brewery status presented a problem for the setup I have going here. Usually, I like to visit the place and get a beer that’s brewed by that place. You know, to get the holistic experience and all that. That wasn’t possible here, but still, I needed to write; the craft beckoned to me. So I did the best I could do: I chose a random beer that was brewed in the same state.
And that’s how I ended up trying the Bittercreek Cuvee from Grand Teton Brewing Company.
Beer Appearance: The beer was a deep gold color — a golden-orange, more accurately. We were sitting at a table right out in the sun, so the beer caught some rays (see the featured image) and shone like a delicious, heavenly elixir. This might be the first beer whose appearance I’d call “beautiful.” I stared at it when I wasn’t drinking it.
It was lightly carbonated, nearly to the point where I was afraid it might be flat.
“Drink me, or don’t drink me.” The beer, it spoke! I was taken aback.
“There’s no point in bubbling,” the beer said, “A waste of energy, I say! A waste of essence! And for nothing more than, what, the acclaim of a 20-something ‘beer aficionado’? The good opinion of yet another young hack?”
I listened to the beer, insulted. I had expected aloofness but not hostility.
“I can go without either. I refuse to pander. So sip me, you bastard, or do not,” the beer said. “To me, it makes no difference. I will not bubble.”
I did eventually sip, but we’ll talk about that in the next section.
The Cuvee had a sort of “microhead” that formed around the rim of the glass. It resembled the corona of the eclipse we had seen just a few hours earlier: thin, bright, and white. Sudsy, not creamy, as usual for sour beers.
Smell: The beer smelled of fermented peaches… in a good way. It had that sweet aroma that’s sort of, I don’t know, musty? How do you describe something peach-like without just saying, “Well, uh, it was like peaches”? I don’t know. But anyways, this beer smelled like canned peaches that had been deliberately aged until they took on the vague varnish scent of alcohol.
If y’all have ever seen (or read) Holes, I imagine “sploosh” would smell a lot like this beer did, albeit a bit stronger.
Taste and Overall Impressions
Very, very, very, VERY tart on the first sip. Like borderline corrosive. It might’ve killed me were I a lesser man. It really sizzled the tongue, a lot like those Fun Dip candies all the kids love, but without the overwhelming sweetness and inevitable diabetes. It tasted like a boozier hard cider, one made exclusively with green apples and nothing else. I gotta say, it was delicious.
It had a champagne-ish finish, ending not so much with a strong flavor or taste, but with a sensation. There were some lingering notes of peach and green apple, I wanna say, but the finish was otherwise crisp and clean. My mouth was as dry as the Sahara.
I’d say this beer is chuggable in theory. There’s no bitterness to overwhelm your taste buds, and it’s 7.5% ABV, too, so trust you’ll be rewarded. It’s possible that it would burn a hole in your tongue during the attempt, though. Consider that a warning. I void all responsibility.
The Grand Teton Bittercreek Cuvee was a pretty good sour beer.
It’s not “travel to Idaho to try” good — I don’t know if anything is that good — but if you ever see it on a menu or in a store somewhere (which you probably won’t), you should give it a shot.
Suggested for: sour beer fans and hoppiness haters.