Alefort 2019 to Offer a New Layout, Themed Food Days and Fewer Breweries 

  • Peter Lovera
Changes are afoot for Alefort, Treefort Music Fest's most quaffable branch. In early January, Treefort announced that Alefort 2019—overseen by Alefort Programmer David Roberts—will include a new layout dividing drinks by category, themed food days designed to play to Boise's culinary strengths and a shorter, more focused list of participating breweries and cideries from Idaho and beyond.

"The [layout] change is something we've been thinking about for a couple of years now," said Roberts. "...As basically presenters of beer, we want to add value around the presentation of that beer however we can. And kind of recontextualizing them by flavor and story and context made sense."

Alefort staff worked directly with participating breweries and cideries to sort them into categories, with each division presiding over its own bar. Those bars, which will offer samples and words of wisdom about brewing history and technique, include the Hoppy Bar (starring IPAs), the Wild & Funky Bar (focused on sour beers), the Lager Bar, the Big & Barrel-Aged Bar, the Process & Ingredient Bar (to highlight the craft of brewing) and the Alefort Bar, which will host a rotating cast of special events, like a celebration of Orval Day and a "Yeast Switch-a-Roo" challenging Alefort brewers to recreate their standbys with different yeasts. To shine a brighter spotlight on the participants Roberts pared down their number from 31 to 21 (15 breweries, six cideries) this year. A full list—including one cidery from faraway Vermont—can be found here.

Treefort-specific beers from Barley Brown’s Beer, Mother Earth Brew Co. and New Belgium
Brewing, the now-traditional Alefort Nail Pull and more will round out the drink-focused festivities, which run from Friday, March 22-Sunday, March 24, at 12th and Grove streets this year.

click to enlarge - The Funky Taco was just one of the spots that contributed to Boise's 2018 tacossance. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • The Funky Taco was just one of the spots that contributed to Boise's 2018 tacossance.
Food will continue to be a big part of Alefort, too, but in a different way than years past. Rather than giving various restaurants free rein to offer disconnected bites, this year's program will feature theme days: tacos on Friday, Basque fare on Saturday and brunch favorites on Sunday. Each one is meant to highlight a different Boise asset. The first underscores the city's explosion of creative taco joints; the second its Basque roots and the third the obsession with brunch that has landed Boise eateries on national Best Brunch lists.

More than anything, Roberts said his goal is to make Alefort an experience drinkers won't soon forget, one that will later linger on in the beers its participants sell. He drew a parallel to his days as a beer purchaser, when he realized the East Coast fascination with Alaskan Amber—his customers were paying $100 and up for a case—sprang from idyllic West Coast vacations like Alaskan cruises.

"It hit me like a lightning bolt. The last time [a particular customer] had had an Alaskan Amber, she was sitting on the deck of this cruise ship and she was drinking this beer. She looks at a glacier, and like a grizzly bear comes out, a bald eagle screeches by, a killer whale jumps out of the ocean. I was like, 'I get it!' That was the best beer she ever had, not just because of how it tasted but because of the experience that was surrounding it."

Roberts wants Alefort to become that cruise ship, particularly for out-of-town visitors, who just might leave craving suds from Lost Grove, Bear Island or Woodland Empire—and willing to pay a premium to bring them home. 
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