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Patrick Orr: My last post as The Beer Nut

I want to thank everybody who has ever read a column or blog post I’ve written over the last decade or so about  beer. It’s been my pleasure, and I can’t thank you, the readers, enough for allowing me to do that. It’s been a ton of fun.

Today is my last day at the Statesman, as I begin a new job Monday at the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, where I will be a public information person. I had hoped to continue to cover the Idaho craft beer scene for the paper, but sadly, that isn’t in the cards. I don’t know if they will continue my monthly craft beer column in Scene or this blog.

What I do know is that it has been a thrill to document the growth of our craft beer culture since I started my monthly column in 2001. At that time, Boise had four brewpubs, a handful of good beer bars, and a great bottle shop at the Boise Co-op. Now, we have 10 breweries in the Treasure Valley, with several more in the planning stages. We have killer bottle shops all over town — like  Bier:Thirty, Brewers Haven, and Brewforia — joining the Co-op in bringing the best brews from all over the world to us. Almost every place in town worth eating out at has a decent craft beer selection.

We have festivals like Alefort and the Barley Bros. Traveling beer show. We have crazy events happening all the time,  like the Stone and Sierra Nevada tap takeovers last year.

We have taverns that have consistently bring us the best in draft options, like Bittercreek Alehouse,  Bar Gernika, and the Front Door. Three of our breweries are now selling their brews in six packs — Sockeye, Payette Brewing, and Crooked Fence.

Craft beer is in our cultural DNA. Idaho is one of the only states that grows hops, and eastern Idaho produces some of the best barley around. We are next to ground zero of the craft beer movement, which occurred in Northern California and Oregon.

When I approached the editors at the Statesman in 2001 and asked them if I could do a beer column, they were wondering if there was enough to write about. There was enough. I tried to avoid writing reviews of beers. That feels as trite to me now as it did then. I wanted to write stories about craft beer — about why we love it and the people who make it and the culture surrounding it. The Statesman (specifically Scene editor Michael Deeds) allowed me to do that and I will forever be grateful.

The next few years will be really interesting. I’m not sure Boise can handle many more new brewing operations. This is already a mature market, and we get the best beers the U.S. has to offer (which of course, are all from the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, Colorado, and Idaho). I remember the bubble of the mid 90s. It would be cool if that didn’t happen again. Maybe if more people continue to ditch fizzy yellow mainstream lagers for craft beers, our local scene will be able to handle this rapid growth.

Anyway, thanks again for reading. I plan on continuing to cover the beer scene in some form after taking a short break, perhaps on a blog. You can follow me on Twitter at @patrickorr for updates on that.

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