Alefort Redux 

A new approach to the popular Alefort

David Robers helped resurrect Alefort to highlight Boise's beer culture at Treefort Music Fest.

Patrick Sweeney

David Robers helped resurrect Alefort to highlight Boise's beer culture at Treefort Music Fest.

Under the dome at last year's rowdy Alefort, ticket holders poured unlimited samples of local brews down their gullets. But this year, Treefort Music Fest decided to rethink Alefort.

"Some of the kegs last year were blown after an hour," said David Roberts, Treefort beer curator and former Brewforia staffer. "To me, the interest of the event is sampling beer, not becoming over-intoxicated. It's to highlight ... Boise's beer culture."

Brewforia, a chain of local beer markets and restaurants, oversaw Alefort last year. It invited a handful of local breweries, including Crooked Fence Brewing, Payette Brewing Company and Sockeye Brewery, to craft specialty brews and hand out unlimited samples in a tent on Grove Street. Tickets cost $25 and granted revelers Alefort access for three days.

According to Treefort festival director Eric Gilbert, officials expressed concern about Alefort's security at a debriefing on last year's festival at City Hall.

"Alefort was the only thing we had security issues with," said Gilbert. "We were not overseeing it, so we decided to tweak some things about it."

Though neither the city nor Boise police would comment on last year's Alefort security issues, Adam Park, spokesman for Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, said the city's job is to make sure the festival is safe.

"Every time we do a special event, we do a debriefing. ... We always try to find every way to improve," said Park. "We don't have any control over what vendors are used by events. Our role within Treefort is to make sure they're all permitted and have proper security."

According to Gilbert, Treefort's decision to handle beer sales in-house this year was more about the financial potential.

"We're trying to make this a sustainable event and we decided it's smarter to sell the alcohol ourselves," he said. "Last year, we did not break even."

But Rick Boyd, the owner of Brewforia, says he didn't see much financial gain from the popular beer tent last year.

"For us, it was primarily a financial decision [to leave]," said Boyd. "There really wasn't a way for us to make that event financially viable."

But Alefort will be resurrected this year, with more than 40 craft and specialty beers, a live music stage, a limited tasting table and Growlers for Gold--a silent auction of eight growlers painted and decorated by local artists to benefit Camp Rainbow Gold.

The tent will be located next to the Main Stage at 13th and Grove streets, and will only be open Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24. This hideaway for music-festers fires up at 11 a.m. each day, so folks can grab a few tasters without missing any tunes.

Participating breweries have once again crafted specialty, limited-run beers. On Saturday, along with its original Dagger Falls IPA, Sockeye will sample a Belgian Dagger Falls and a Whiskey Cask Dagger Falls; Highlands Hollow will offer a cask-conditioned Thunder Monkey Strong Bitter; Crooked Fence will have a Scotch Ale and a Potato Porter; and Tablerock will show off its Double Chocolate Porter three different ways: standard, chili-infused and port barrel-aged.

"For Valentine's Day, we wanted to do a beer that was an aphrodisiac, so we added treatments post-fermentation," said Kerry Caldwell, brewer at Tablerock Brewpub. "It's really amazing what you can do with a chocolate beer."

Sunday, March 24, will include appearances from the Ram, New Belgium and Salmon River Brewing. Payette Brewing will also bust out its Cucumber Cardamom Pilsner and a beer dubbed the Tropical Bunghole IPA.

"The Tropical Bunghole is an Outlaw IPA that we dry-hopped with Citra hops. It's amazing to see what a difference adding a different hop can do to the brew," said Sheila Francis, director of marketing and events at Payette Brewing Company.

Payette will also offer its specialty brew, Imaginary Friend Pale Wheat, throughout the festival.

"It straddles the line between a wheat beer and a pale ale. ... We used a lot more hops than would be in your typical wheat beer," said Francis. "It even has its own tap handles, co-branded with Treefort and Payette Brewing."

In addition to Imaginary Friend Wheat, Payette has even created two spirit-infused beers: The Bandito, an IPA with agave nectar and tequila-soaked spires, and Mutton Buster Brown with Fernet-soaked peaches.

Things will also get ritzier at this year's Alefort with The Hot Beer Spot, which will rotate through specialty beers from local retailers.

Organizers recommend you show up early, or miss out on the limited tastings, which on Saturday include Bier:Thirty's bourbon- and cinnamon-infused Union Jack IPA from Firestone Walker; Bittercreek Ale House's Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock and BFM Square Root Sour Saison; and Bar Gernika's 10 Barrel Apricot Crush and Ichtegem's Grand Cru Flemish Red. On Sunday, the Boise Co-op will pour a Millenium Vintage Chimay Grand Reserve quad, Vintage Stone Double Bastard Ale and an Anchor Christmas vertical; while The Front Door will pair small bites with beers from 10 Barrel Brewing.

"Scheduled [keg] tappings are at least 40, maybe more," said Roberts.

Patrons can purchase the advance $30 Alefort package, which comes with 15 beer tokens and a ticket to the Main Stage Friday, March 22 (which costs $30 on its own). At the event, you can purchase beer tokens for $2 and 5-ounce tasting cups for $1.

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