Idaho, Wyoming and Montana

Destinations by | Mar 2007 | Issue #3

Usually given short shrift, these guys are every bit as good—and beery—as Colorado

Although both Colorado’s beer and its powder rightly command a good deal of attention and respect, the mountains don’t stop at I-80, and neither does the snow. Idaho, Wyoming and Montana all boast some fantastic, overlooked winter destinations, offering more room on the slopes than their crowded, more-heralded neighbor to the south, as well as more elbow room at the bar.

Mountains are a lot like food—they’re best when paired with beer. So this month, we’ll introduce you to BeerAdvocate.com readers’ favorite out-of-the-way après-ski spots: mountainside breweries, beer bars and brewpubs worthy of drinkers who’d rather munch on yellow snow than sip yellow swill. (And we’ll leave Utah, with its archaic, Prohibitionist-era liquor laws, to fend for itself.)

Kellogg, ID, was originally named for a downtrodden gold prospector; its landmark mountain, for Kellogg’s burro. When most of the valley’s mining interests decamped, the Jackass Ski Bowl (no kidding) was rechristened Silver Mountain. You’d be a jackass to pass it by. The lakeside resort town of Coeur d’Alene sits at the foot of the Silver Valley, a half-hour drive down the road from Silver Mountain’s 2,200-foot vertical drop and its average annual snowfall of 300 inches. Head into town for craft brews and quality food; both Capone’s Pub and Grill and the Coeur d’Alene Brewing Company [closed] are BA favorites.

Coeur d’Alene also lies on the road to Schweitzer Mountain, a massive rock overlooking Lake Pend Oreille. Thaw out at Laughing Dog Brewing in neighboring Ponderay. Montana’s Big Mountain sits three hours to the east; don’t doubt the name—it’s got a wicked vertical drop and a face named Hellroaring.

Idaho’s capital, Boise, is a great stopover on the swing from Brundage Mountain to Sun Valley. The city boasts a burgeoning arts scene, several excellent brewpubs and ample cuisine à la bière.

To the east, there’s a border war raging. Wyoming’s side has the big-name resort (Jackson Hole has an American-best 4,139-foot vertical drop and over 450 inches of snowfall every year) and a solid brewpub (the Snake River Brewing Company’s Jackson Hole Pub), but Idaho Falls and Victor, Idaho, counter with a cluster of excellent brewpubs. We’ll call this one a draw.

A few hours to the north, Bozeman, Mont., sits on top of some of the Northwest’s most challenging terrain—and some of our favorite beer bars for miles around.

Idaho

Coeur d’Alene Brewing Company [closed]
209 Lakeside Ave., Coeur d’Alene, cdabrewing.com
In the summer, the brewery’s lakeside neighborhood is swarming with yuppie, resort types; enjoy the late-winter weather, the solitude, and the Amber Ale.

Brownstone Restaurant and Brewhouse [closed]
This cozy little A-frame bar’s Hefeweizen and Amber Bock score well with Beer Advocates.

McCall Brewing
Beer Advocates call this little brewpub outside Brundage “awesome,” and we won’t argue. The Scotch Ale is a favorite, and the pub fare can’t be beat.

Laughing Dog Brewing
This relative newcomer at the base of Schweitzer Mountain has already scored high marks for its IPA, Pale Ale and Cream Ale.

Mick Duff’s Brewing Company
Nine homemade beers on tap, including the BA faves Wheat Whale Ale and Strom-Hammer IPA, plus Kobe beef burgers. In Idaho, we remind you.

The Porch Public House
You’ll find good gumbo and local micros on tap at this pub, though the eponymous outdoor porch is weather-permitting.

MarCellar’s Vintage Wines
Up front, MarCellar’s sells wine and microbrews; out back, it’s an unassuming but fantastic little beer bar. They also sell cigars, and, if you ask nicely, they might detail your car.

Capone’s Pub and Grill
An unassuming sports bar, but with 42 microbrews on tap and special attention paid to Northwestern IPAs. Capone’s is a BA area favorite.

Bittercreek Alehouse
One of Boise’s best beer bars, with two dozen taps devoted to Idaho, Washington and Oregon craft beers, and pub grub to match.

The Front Door
A must-visit bar, featuring an ever-changing selection of Northwestern beers on tap, as well as a selection of Belgians that’s unparalleled in the area.

Grand Teton Brewing Company
Owned by the Otto brothers, who opened Wyoming’s first microbrewery, Grand Teton sits just over the border from Jackson Hole. Stop by and thank them for introducing the growler to America.

Wyoming

Snake River Brewing Company
Beer Advocates love both Snake River’s German lagers and American ales, while the Alströms prefer the robust Zonker Stout. You might as well try all three.

Montana

Bozeman Brewing Company
Sitting in the shadow of Bridger Bowl, Big Sky and Moonlight Basin, solid beer and a cozy tasting room make up for a limited selection.

Montana Ale Works
BA readers love the Ale Works’ food, and their hyper-local approach to beer. Most micros come from Montana and the Pacific Northwest.

Moose’s Saloon
An old, old, old-school western bar on the slopes of Big Mountain, with sawdust on the floor, local beers in the ice chest and unexpectedly great pizzas in the oven.