Behind the bar at Barbarian Brewing sits a large three-ring binder. Contained within the reams are more than 250 recipes and notes about every beer that brewer James Long has crafted. Long is a retro-futurist when it comes to brewing, and his innovative approach to the brew floor has given Barbarian a strong local following.“In 2019, we kegged more than 100 batches, 80 of which were completely different, original recipes,” says Long, who never worries about losing his inspiration. “As long as there’s different things out there— foods, candies, cocktails— there’s always something new.”
An especially popular experiment is the Reese’s Pieces Ice Cream Ale, which Long just rereleased.
“It’s just a fun beer,” he says. “We’re doing all this crazy stuff: We’re throwing 20 gallons of ice cream in and melting it down while we’re boiling the beer. Then, when it’s almost done fermenting, I have to stand over a pot for an hour melting 50 pounds of Reese’s Pieces. That’s the labor of love right there—and my forearm workout for the day.
“It tastes and smells just like Reese’s Pieces,” he continues. “That’s just fun because people love it and it doesn’t taste like beer. It’s like an anti-beer, but it gets people excited and helps expand their horizons.”
Long also focuses on sour beers. One experimental line is affectionately named his “nostalgia series,” a batch of sour beers based on favorite childhood candies, including Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, and Pop Rocks.Barbarian makes both barrel aged and kettle sours, and recently added a coolship program. In this traditional brewing method, wort sits in an open-topped coolship to collect indigenous yeast and bacteria and then spontaneously ferments. This homage to old techniques is ingrained in the spirit of Barbarian.
“It’s really fun to do something new, progressive and weird, but still fall back on things that have been done for thousands of years and are super traditional,” says Long. “It’s honoring your roots but going off on a new path. I like the dichotomy of that.”
5270 W. Chinden Blvd.
Garden City, ID
1022 W. Main St. (downtown tap room)