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Discover the Ingredients and Science Behind Idaho Beer

A delicious image of hops, barley and lager

With its longer days and sometimes warmer evenings, April is the perfect month to relax on the patio of your local brewpub and ponder the science, craftsmanship and ingredients that went into that lager, stout or IPA. No wonder April is Idaho Craft Beer Month! (Yep, it's a real thing, since 2017.)

Sheila Francis, executive director of Idaho Brewers United says about Idaho Craft Beer Month, "The goal of the celebration is to shine a light on the amazing craft beer made in our state and encourage folks to support their local breweries. We also want to highlight Idaho's importance for the beer industry at large because, as I like to say, beer grows in Idaho!" According to Francis, Idaho is the top producer of barley in the United States, and the Gem State ranks second in producing hops — both key ingredients in making beer. "Craft brewers across the country actively seek out Idaho ingredients because of their quality, and Idaho breweries have the good fortune to be in close proximity," Francis says. 

Idaho Public Television and other PBS stations around the country are doing our part to celebrate the history, science and downright deliciousness of this ancient libation. In the links below, take a look at Idaho's hops and barley farms, visit some local breweries, accompany Rick Steves on a discovery of Belgian beer, and consider a few beer-infused recipes. Sláinte, salud, santé and prost!

Equipment used by Idaho barley farmers

Outdoor Idaho: Hops & Barley

From the golden fields of barley in southeastern Idaho to the biggest hops ranch in the world nestled up against the Canadian border, Outdoor Idaho takes you on an exploration of the ingredients and the craftsmanship behind Idaho beer. 

FYIdaho: Is Your Beer From Idaho?

You might be surprised by the number of local craft breweries, and some not-so-local breweries, that get their ingredients from Idaho. Farmers in Idaho produce about 43 million bushels of barley a year and over 18 million pounds of hops. Some of the biggest breweries with names you’d probably recognize get their ingredients from Idaho. Being close to the source has wooed brewmasters to the Gem State, making Idaho one of the fastest-growing craft-beer industries in the country. From Sandpoint to McCall, Boise to Idaho Falls, there are lots of brew festivals you can experience around the state.

Wyoming-made beer, cider and mead

Farm to Fork Wyoming: Cider, Mead & Beer

Wyoming is onboard for the craft brew movement — but not just beer. Venture around the state as we meet some unique community-based artisan fermenting crafters from cider to mead and beer. These resourceful businesses are elevating their crafts and sharing something uniquely Wyoming!

Origin of Everything: The Rise of Beer

People across the globe love beer. A LOT. Danielle traces the history of beer and how we got from fermented corn to the craft beers so many enjoy today. She looks not just at the science of brewing beer, but also at other various fermented beverages that have cropped up around the world over the centuries. 

Serving Up Science: Why Beer Foam Is Amazing (And Underrated)

Ever wondered how and why beer foams? Often referred to as the “head” or “collar,” beer foam is a collection of frothy bubbles carbonating the top layer of freshly poured beer. The bubbles are carbon dioxide gas created as a byproduct of fermentation — the process by which we get alcohol. So grab a cold one as we join a local brewer in exploring the science of beer foam!

Rick Steves' Europe: Belgian Beer Basics

The traveler faces a wonderful dilemma when perusing a Belgian beer menu: Though only around the size of Maryland, Belgium produces about 120 varieties of beer and 580 brands — more than any other country. Enjoy this bonus video tour of a Belgian brewery: 

Start Up: Have a Beer Outdoors

Gary and the crew head to Portland, Oregon, to talk with Ashley Rose Salvitti, the creator of Brewvana, a tour company of Portland's finest microbreweries. Then they head to Detroit, Michigan, to talk to Candace Simons, founder of Brooklyn Outdoor, a unique outdoor advertising company.

PBS Food: Kick Back With a Frozen Beergarita

This "beergarita" recipe is a frozen Americanized version of the Mexican michelada. While this is American as drinks come, it's still SO delicious. The fresh lime juice and ice make a slushy of sorts. Then comes the beer.