Yes, this is one of those I-only-have-five-minutes-to-blog-today posts, but cut me a little slack, I haven’t reached the Zen-level of full time beer blogger yet. I still have have my day job in other words.
Seems the Norwegians are making great strides in the craft-brewing department, which is evident from this stout.
This imperial stout from the Nogne-O brewery is rich and roasted and full of that blackness that we love on this most evil day of the year. Made in the Baltic tradition but kicked up with an infusion of Columbus hops, this stout was made for the American taste buds with European flair.
I actually served this up to some guests the other night to accompany a fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream. They paired beautifully, but I guarantee that if you run by Worden’s Market and grab a few of these, you’ll find yourself warm and content after spending several hours knocking on your neighbors doors so you can eventually pad your dentist’s pocket.
Butte is back in the brewing business. It’s been years since a hometown beer laced the rims of local mugs in the gritty mining town.
The magic of Quarry Brewing Company is all on the inside. The nondescript brick building on West Galena won’t give you much of an indication of what’s inside, but what’s inside is one of the most enjoyable tap-room experiences I’ve had in Montana.
Tables at which to sit and play any one of many games scattered about the room, chalk boards for children and adults to play with and a play area for kids make this tap room one of Montana’s most family friendly.
Brewer/owner Chuck Schnabel poured a taster tray and filled a growler with Open Pit Porter upon request. The long-time Washington State brewer understands the idea of a community brew house, and he understands Montana’s love for quality, traditional ales and lagers.
I tried the Shale Pale Ale, Headframe Hef, Open Cab Copper, Open Pit Porter and Sandstone Stout.
I’m impressed with all of his beers, but the two that stood out to me were the Open Cab Copper, which is similar to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the Open Pit Porter, which gives off rich espresso overtones. We’ll talk more about his beers later, as this is more a review of the tasting room.
The brewing system, which Schnabel bought from a Canadian company, is visible through glass doors in the tap room, giving customers a chance to see Schnabel in action.
Schnabel and his wife Lyza are planning to grow the brewery slowly and win locals over one pint at a time. The family friendly atmosphere is due in part to the Schnabels’ two children who often grace the tasting room with their childish whoops and hollers. Brewing historically was a family affair, the sons and daughters of brewers taking up the family business much the same as at the world’s famous wineries. Schnabel is planning to be heavily involved with the Montana State Brewer’s Association, which he hopes will unite the state’s breweries to help grow the craft brewing industry here. The brewery also has a lot of promise as a great events venue with a large stage and contained crowd area on the roof of the building, and Schnabel would like to have musical entertainment in tap room eventually as well.
Quarry Brewing Company is worth the drive to Butte. Stop in and get to know Chuck and Lyza Schnabel now, because you’ll wish you had later.
Oh, and Quarry Brewing is just the second brewery in the state to carry Party Pigs, those lovable brown beer kegs that you adopt and then refill with 2.25 gallons of your favorite beer as often as you need.
Apparently that is not the case anymore as I found out while perusing the beer selection at the Good Food Store last week.
Turns out Sierra Nevada is packaging their Bigfoot Barleywine in sixers these days. (They might have been doing this for a awhile now, but I haven’t seen them until now)
These cloudy, high-gravity, high IBU (90) barley bombs are in a convenient size for sharing with friends, but I’m not sure you want to treat them like a session beer or even a six-pack of your favorite IPA for that matter. At 9.6 ABV, these big beers pack a punch.
Bigfoot contains a trio of my favorite hops, Cascade, Centennial and Chinook.
This beer has hints of caramel candy and dried peach and pear with an intense hop and malt presence that can overwhelm the uninitiated.
The cloudy nature of the beer is both beautiful and an indication of just how much body it has.
I found this beer to be a nice sipper, as well as a good match with a hearty bourbon spice pumpkin cheesecake my wife made this weekend. Other good matches might be a chocolate mouse with raspberries and sharp, aged cheeses, according to the Sierra Nevada website.
Do you want to know about just what kind of beer to have with that chicken marsala dinner? Look no further than Missoula’s own Mark Thomson. He’ll be your guide to what’s hot and what you should drink with just your slippers on an a roaring fire.
You may have noticed a sign on your favorite local pub indicating higher beer prices. Some of you may care, some of you may not. But sooner or later, rising beer prices are going to affect all of us.
When I posed the question about rising beer price to Kettlehouse Brewing Co. head man Tim O’Leary, this is what he had to say:
The short answer is we’re not raising our prices to pay for the expansion.
The long? The increases are due to our increased costs to buy malt and hops. Our malt prices have doubled in the last 8 months. Hop prices for some varieties have quadrupled and the doom and gloom for 2009 will be worse for hops and likely not better for malt.
For malt the sitchew is: basically climate conditions have not been favorable for malt harvests. In 2006, excessive rains in
Europereduced exportable supplies of barley. A severe drought in left the world supply short going into 2007 which saw strong demand. This year Europe lost much of their harvest due to excessive rains and Australia is still experiencing drought. North American supplies were already tight and now have increased demand. I know the guys in Australia didn’t fair too well with the dry year. Here’s an excerpt of one Montana farmer’s email to me from several weeks ago: Sundurst MT
Growers are getting “. . . a very fair price . . . as a shortage in almost every grain commodity for next year is making the markets react favorably ( for the producer that is). A little info on our barley specs. This year the area averaged 75 plump, 12.5 protein, 48 lbs. test weight. Our barley is generally better quality than that, but it was just too hot and dry in July this year. We averaged around 45 bushels per acre on our fallow ground, where we usually average around 65. Again, too hot and too dry.” (those proteins are on the high end of acceptable by the way)
I’ve also been told that Bush’s support for subsidizing ethanol has screwed with the prices for not only malt barley but any feed crop. So butter, milk, meat, beer – It’s all going up.
For hops the story is that for years growers haven’t been getting enough return on investment. Hop acreage has been decreasing yearly. There are rumors that Bud bought up a bunch of Cascades which really sucks for those of us making IPAs and American Pale Ales. We may have to change our formulation for Eddy Out Pale Ale and very possibly Double Haul IPA. It is a reality that some brewers WILL NOT get the hops they need in the coming months.
My take is that historically low prices (and inventories) are now being corrected due to unfavorable climate conditions resulting in low yield harvests. Ethanol subsidies are making it attractive to grow corn and soy at the expense of hops and barley. Increased demand for hoppier craft beers is putting pressure on already dwindling supplies. All of this adds up to a perfect storm for beer price increases.
We bought Hallertau in March for $5.55 per pound- they’re now being quoted at over $16 per pound. It seems to be literally going up daily.
If we did not raise prices we’d be looking at swallowing close to $75k in cost of goods increases.
Even a quarter per pint increase though still does not bring us close to “
” craft prices. Buy a pint in Big City Seattleor and you’re looking at $5 plus on the plank. In Denver you can get our beer for $3.25 to $3.75 per pint. Missoula
Expect to see some beers having to be reformulated at the best and not available at the worst. Our beers may end up tasting subtly different as we switch bittering hops. We are searching for a suitable and available replacement for Cascades to use in Eddy Out Pale Ale. The most noticeable change will be if we have to replace our flavor and aroma hops – or decrease our hopping altogether.
Juergen has heard rumors that the Russians, Chinese, and possibly Poles are planting hops now, but new hop fields generally aren’t harvestable for something like 3 years. He’s happy by the way that he’s making lower IBU lagers! We hop heads are taking it on the chin.
So hopefully we can all ride this out. I’ll try to keep you posted.
Kettlehouse Brewing Company LLC
Pray for rain folks!
The Darwin Awards are given out yearly, and mostly posthumously, to members of the human race who successfully, and often stupidly, remove themselves from the gene pool.
It looks as though it’s time for an animal version of that award, though Darwin might roll over in his grave at my mentioning that.
And, of course, this might be more a human fault than that of the animals, but nonetheless, this story about elephants in India gorging themselves on beer and rampaging into a rice paddy where they were electrocuted by a downed power pole, is soooo Darwinian.
Never mind that it was rice beer.
OK, so not all of us go nuts about celebrating those odd-year anniversaries. But I’m glad Deschutes Brewing Company, in Bend, Oregon, did. Their 19th Anniversary Golden Ale is an ode to craft brewing in all of its glory.
From the addition of Saaz hops to Belgian white candy diamonds, this beer has an ingredient list that would make any brewer jealous.
I think what I appreciate most about this beer is the obvious nod to Belgian beer styles while retaining that Northwest beer taste. It’s like an overly hopped light Belgian ale, but it all melds beautifully into a smooth, green-banana, apricot and citrus flavor with a mouth-cleansing, slightly bitter finish.
At 8.7 percent, it’s not as heavy as you might expect, and it pairs well with hard cheeses, roasted meats and as a palette cleanser with sharp and tangy desserts like basil gelato.
I bought this at Worden’s Market.
I’ve got to thank an editor for sending this one my way. New Zealand’s Croucher Brewing Co. co-owner, Paul Croucher, is offering a lifetime of free beer for the return of a lap top stolen in a break in.
This makes me want to become a crime buster in New Zealand.
Read the whole story here.
Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, pours samples of his award-winning beers at the GABF. (Check out those ABVs on the board behind him)
Can a brewery add a distillery without compromising its integrity?
That’s the title of an article I read recently, for which I can no longer find a link. But the title is enough to get me going.
Rogue Brewing in Newport, Oregon has successfully integrated two of America’s favorite craft industries, beer and liquor.
Small batch distilleries have found a new spot in the heart’s of American craft industry lovers, so much so that states like Montana have been revising liquor laws to accomadate startup distilleries.
I know there must be a few more startups or people interested in starting distilleries out there, and I would like to hear from you.
I put in a call to Vigilante Distilling in Helena, and I know that George Moncure at Yellowstone Brewing is dabbling, but who are the rest of you out there?
I’ve even heard rumblings that Big Sky Brewing Company has tossed the idea of a distillery around.
Yes, I’m curious about distilling because of how the industry progressed in states like Oregon and the fact that legislation regarding distilling is affecting how this industry will take shape in places like Montana.
Send me a note,