Australia, Bozeman and Cantillon to be exact. There was no order to this tasting, nor was there a theme. Conveniently, I found a loosely threaded theme to follow in a simple song my two-year-old sings.
My buddy Luke from Kettlehouse, grabbed a growler of schwarz beer from Bozeman Brewing Co., I threw in two bottles of Coopers and Luke kicked in a bottle of Cantillon Broucsella (1900) Grand Cru. I purchased the Coopers Sparkling Ale and Vintage Ale at The Good Food Store and I believe the Cantillon came from Worden’s Market.
We started with the beer, which was nicely roasted with a hint of licorice and a bigger hop profile than most black beers.
The Coopers Vintage Ale had a heavy fruit nose with a ton of dried pineapple, green apple and green raisin flavors. The color left something to be desired. We decided it was a dishwasher brown, which didn’t flatter the beer. But the fruit nose and the warm full body with medium malt were very satisfying.
The Coopers Sparkling Ale was super light with a decent nose containing some floral hints and a little over-ripe grapefruit. I wonder if this beer wasn’t a little flat or perhaps old. With some effervescence or a little sparkle, this would be great summer beer.
And last, but certainly not least, the Cantillon Broucsella (1900) Grand Cru is fantastic beer, with a deep and complex sour well that seems to go on forever. This particular bottle went a little flat, so we were left with only a hint of what a great beer this is. Don’t let that scare you, if you find one of these, grab it and have a friend over to enjoy one of life’s great pleasures.
Missoula’s legendary beer is back, albeit in a different flavor and brewed in Whitefish. Highlander, that Scottish-themed beer that defined generations of Montana beer drinkers from the early 1900s until the 1960s, is back, at least for this weekend. The beer, which is brewed by Great Northern Brewing Co., will be available at the Garden City Beer Festival on Saturday from noon until 8 p.m., unless they run out of course, and then Missoula and Butte will have to wait for the beer’s grand release in June, according to Bob Lukes, a Missoula attorney who owns the name and is in partnership with Great Northern Brewing Co. to produce the beer.
I was lucky enough to get a taste of this fine amber ale, and I have to say that it is a great take on Scotch-style beer. The original Highlander was a western light lager, and we can all be thankful that Lukes and Great Northern didn’t go that direction. Highlander is not a heavy scotch ale like a Coldsmoke but a lighter amber ale with a defined scotch maltiness that goes down like velvet. The beer pours a darker-brown shade of red, which produced a nice lacing on the fun Highlander pint glasses already available at Rockin’ Rudy’s.
Come sample the beer at the Garden City Beer Festival this weekend, and look for it around town sometime in June.
Photo by Michael Gallacher
Also, Lukes is looking for anyone with any memories, stories or photographs of the old Missoula Brewing Co., which produced Highlander beer. Got anything you’d like to share? Let me know, and I’ll forward it along until the new website for Highlander is up and running.
Bayern Brewing recently released the 2008 Maibock, a delicious comfort beer that helps big-beer lovers like me transition to the lighter fare of summer. Brownish red and with only a hint of that malty sweetness found in its winter brother, Doppelbock, Maibock is easily digested on the back porch watching the mosaic that is the Missoula sky on a rich and varied spring evening. As the hours stretch away with the shadows, another pull on the bottle gives you a friendly welcome-to-spring with a warm alcohol tug on your taste buds and a light finish that leaves room for dinner. Or have Maibock with dinner. It pairs wonderfully with pork chops, baked chicken or steak, and it won’t overburden lighter foods like pastas and salads.
According to the Bayern Brewing newsletter, “Brewsletter,” Maibock started out as Braunbier, a strong lager first brewed by monks about a thousand years ago. Over time, brewing traditions, dynasties, political boundaries and tastes changed the beer into what it is today. Seasonal variations in beer are not new, nor are they exclusive to American craft brewers. We owe a lot to the traditional European brewing countries like Czech, Austria, Germany, Britain and Belgium.
According to Avery Brewing Co.’s website, Maharaja comes from two Sanskrit words, Mahat, meaning great and Rajan, meaning king. You have to love powerful and thought-provoking names for beers. Me, I love names like Old Rasputin, Arrogant Bastard, Skull Splitter or Gonzo Imperial Porter.
They all leave a great aftertaste.
What I liked: Maharaja Imperial India Pale Ale is a classic big beer with a defined herbal hoppiness that tends toward clean pine. The beer finishes dry with enough malt to keep it from faltering out on the back of the palate. The sugary resiny taste is characteristic of nice bottle-aged beer that has retained its complexity.
Something I didn’t like: Maharaja in a 22-ounce bottle is a bit big unless you’re sharing it with a friend. As I was alone, I didn’t want to pour the rest out, so I drank it, but it’s a heavy beer with a lot of attitude. I would love to see this in 12-ounce bottles.
Great show last night. Good Kettlehouse beer, great friends and God’s own music.
There’s nothing else I can say, so take this:
I find myself excited for the 16th Annual Garden City Brewfest coming up May 3. It will mark a year since I decided to take a job here at the Missoulian, though I didn’t actually start until late June. My mind was on Missoula, and as I researched the city, I found myself wishing I could attend the event last year. Oh, well, this year will be great. I’ll be helping out down at brewfest, and I encourage all of you with a volunteering spirit to do the same. I know that the Missoula Downtown Association needs more volunteers to serve and do other jobs during the big day, so don’t hesitate to put in your few hours. Volunteerism is what really makes these types of festivals a success.
Here’s some more info:
Admission to BrewFest is free, but those interested in tasting the beverages on tap there will be $5 for a 7-ounce commemorative glass, a wristband and two tokens, good for beer or wine. Additional tokens are $1 each. Soda, water a variety of food choices are also available for purchase, including brats and pizza by the Sentinel Kiwanis Club and Mexican fare from El Cazador. Designated drivers who identify themselves will be provided with free soda throughout the day.
Live music, great beer and a lively setting; what more do you need? I’m looking forward to meeting as many of Missoula’s beer lovers as possible that day. Have fun, and please organize a designated driver or plan on walking to brewfest if you can.
Continuing a tremendous streak, Montana brewer Travis Zeilstra of Montana Brewing Co., picked up some hardware at the 2008 World Beer Cup in San Diego.
Travis picked up two bronze medals and a silver, continuing his streak after picking up the Small Brewpub of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, last October.
Spanish Peaks Brewing Co. also picked up a bronze in San Diego, helping to put Montana on the world beer map.
Here’s the list of categories how Montana brewers did.
Category 3: American-Style Wheat Beer (14 Entries)
Gold - Crystal Wheat Ale
Pyramid Breweries Inc.
Silver - Shiner Dunkelweizen
Category 7: Herb and Spice Beer (67 Entries)
Gold - Avatar Jasmine IPA
Silver - CoCoNut PorTeR
Category 51: English-Style Summer Ale (20 Entries)
Gold - Rooster’s Y.P.A. (
Rooster’s Brewing Co. Ltd
Silver - “312″
Goose Island Beer Co.
Bronze – Sandbagger Gold
Category 79: American-Style Pale Ale (66 Entries)
Gold - Widmer Pale Ale
Widmer Brothers Brewing
Silver - Sharptail Pale Ale
Check back later this week as I hope to chat with Travis about what this means for Montana Brewing Co. and Montana brewers in general.
My wife had a craving for ribs today, which was unfortunate because there were a couple inches of fresh snow on our grill.
Not wanting to disappoint the wife, which is never a good idea, I decided to do ribs winter-style, indoors.
Pressure cookers are the next best thing to a grill. Now I know most of you guy’s guys out there will flick me some $&#! about that, but if you want good food fast, especially meat, the pressure cooker is your tool.
2-4 pounds beef ribs
1 onion – diced
4 carrots – diced
2 celery – diced
1 garlic clove – minced
1 12-ounce bottle of beer
homemade barbecue sauce or bottle of your choice
Take 2 to 4 pounds of beef ribs, (preferably back ribs) and brown them in a little olive oil in the pressure cooker pot. Remove ribs and put the chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic into the pot. Scrape the browned meat off the bottom and saute until just tender. Add the ribs back and pour in 12 ounces of beer, 1 1/2 cups of water and a tablespoon of red wine vinegar.
Seal the cooker and cook at the second ring, or full pressure, for 7 to 10 minutes. Longer will make the meat more tender. Turn the oven on to 400.
Release the pressure naturally and place the ribs on an oven-proof dish. Cover with barbecue sauce and place them in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes. You should get a very tender rib with a nice barbecue crust.
Serve with your favorite beer. I recommend a brown ale, porter or even a stout. I used Victory Brewing Co.’s Storm King Imperial Stout. The flavor in the ribs was pronounced, illiciting good comments from my wife. Lighter beers don’t often leave a lot of flavor, so I like something that leaves a little somethin’ somethin’.
Have fun with this one, and remember, you can always do these ribs on the barbecue when it warms up.
It’s hard to type right now. I’ve got a callous on my thumb the size of a small hill. Last week I decided to buy my son Guitar Hero III. Then I got hooked on it.
So instead of sitting around watching television and sipping on a cool beer in the evenings, I’ve been slamming a Les Paul to the likes of Metallica, Guns & Roses and CCR.
I used to play air guitar with a plywood cut out when I was a kid. This plastic one with multicolored buttons is almost too close to the real thing. But it’s so much fun.
And, like when I played in a band in my early 20s, beer makes playing guitar better. In my case, it was the bass (corrected for the nice person who was kind enough to leave such a great comment), and I was Geddy Lee.
For the last session of Guitar Hero III, I grabbed an Imperial Weizen that I picked up at the Good Food Store. At 8.3 percent, this wheat beer packs a punch, and if I wasn’t four-chords deep in “Welcome to the Jungle,” I probably would’ve noticed.
Good stuff though. I’m not sure how to categorize anything with the imperial designation nowadays. Sometimes it seems like a marketing gimmick, while at other times I appreciate the extra ingredients.
As far as a wheat goes, this beer offers that tongue-tantalizing tangy flavor with a nice balance of hops and musty wheatiness. The higher alcohol content plays tricks with your taste buds, but the weizen shines through nonetheless.
Ah, yes, slammin’ epic guitar tunes with just any beer would not work at this stage in my life. Fake playing “Mississippi Queen” with a plastic guitar as a fictional Slash in front of Beelzebub himself should only be done in the company of a fine imperial of any kind.
Rock on forever,
Who would have thought?
I found this delicious lager at the Good Food Store last week. I was going to save it for a sunny day, but it looks like we’re back to winter weather here in Missoula. So I popped it open for dinner tonight instead.
This is a great fresh-tasting lager with more than a hint of hops. This one is chewy, with a ton of real lager flavor. There’s a citrus characteristic to the hops and a slight acidity that makes this beer great with food. The taste is a little surprising at first. You’re thinking lager, but this beer smells like a good pale ale and tastes like a light IPA. I like whoever thought of putting hops in a lager. Keep it up. Finally, a dry lager with hop for sushi lovers.