Boise Colla-beer-ations 

Local breweries tap their creativity

To celebrate Hiding in the City, Chinese artist Liu Bolin's exhibition now open at Boise Art Museum (see our review here), Post Modern Brewers created a special oyster stout flavored with Szechuan peppercorns.

"The oyster stout is a fairly traditional style of beer that's not really done anymore," said Head Brewer Marvin Kinney. "Where it came from was they used to use oyster shells as a fining agent. A fining agent is something that gets the proteins to precipitate out of the beer so it's not as hazy."

To make its oyster stout, Post Modern Brewers reached out to neighbor Reel Foods to source whole Nisqually oysters.

"In the boil for the beer, we boiled whole oysters, shells and all," said Kinney. "So what that does is the extra calcium gives it a nice full mouth-feel and helps the head retention, so it has a really nice, mousse-like head on it."

Kinney flavored the stout with lemony Japanese hops called Sorachi Ace and floral Szechuan peppercorns.

"Most people think they're spicy and they're not," said Kinney. "They're very floral, citrusy. They're used in Szechuan cooking to actually numb your palette a little bit before the heat hits."

Post Modern Brewers will donate $100 from every keg of oyster stout sold to the Boise Art Museum. Kinney says the brew will be on tap "through most of the exhibit," which runs until May 24.

In other unique collaboration news, Payette Brewing Co. recently teamed up with Portland, Ore.'s Hopworks Urban Brewery to create a beer that celebrates the Gem State's most famous crop.

"When we thought about Idaho, the first thing that came to mind was potatoes and then secondarily beer," said Hopworks owner and brewmaster Christian Ettinger. "So we started thinking about using what was really a wonderful, organic version of your No. 1 cash crop in Idaho—knowing that it's full of delicious starch, and you can make beer out of starch."

The Potato Gun Idaho Potato Ale features organic, Idaho-grown purple potatoes supplied by Boise Fry Company.

"It was ridiculous," said Ettinger. "We peeled a 55-pound box of organic purple potatoes by hand and boiled them up in a homebrew kettle for about 15 minutes until they were soft and then we mashed them with our hands. It was very much hand-crafted."

The IPA, which has also been referred to as a "Fry-PA," contains three hop varieties: Amarillo, Crystal and whole leaf Zeus.

"I think it's probably one of the hoppiest things to come out of Boise in a while," said Ettinger.

The Potato Gun IPA debuted Feb. 6 at Payette and will be unveiled Wednesday, Feb. 18 at Hopworks.

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