Twin Falls author Steven Koonce tastes his way through Idaho’s rapidly growing craft beer scene in the new book “Idaho Beer: From Grain to Glass in the Gem State.”Beer was a staple in pioneer Idaho but its breweries were wiped out during Prohibition. According to Koonce, beer’s triumphant return began when August Busch III, who owns a home in Driggs, Idaho, decided he wanted to start using Idaho barley for his Budweiser and Bud Light. Since 2001, Anheuser-Busch has contracted double its needs in the state. In addition, Mexico’s biggest brewer, Groupo Modelo, has a malting plant in Idaho Falls, along with Anheuser-Busch’s plant and the Great Western Malting plant in Pocatello.
The majority of the book focuses on southern Idaho beers and breweries, but Koonce makes a foray north to McCall, and MJ Barleyhoppers in Lewiston gets a sentence.
Here’s his list of top 10 Idaho beers. At the time of the book’s printing, No. 10, Grand Teton 208 Session Ale, was the only beer made with 100 percent Idaho ingredients. In the top spot, Selkirk Abbey was the brewery most brewers mentioned when asked who could sell on the national market.
10. Grand Teton 208 Session Ale
9. Laughing Dog Alpha Dog Imperial IPA
8. Sawtooth Freeheeler Rye IPA
7. Crooked Fence Sins of Our Fathers Imperial Stout
6. McCall Brewing Wobbily Man Scottish Ale
5. Laughing Dog The Dogfather Imperial Stout
4. Payette Outlaw IPA
3. Grand Teton Bitch Creek ESB
2. Sockeye Dagger Falls IPA
1. Selkirk Abbey The Infidel Belgian IPA