For all of you high-gravity beer lovers out there, there is news about HB400 as it collects dust before a probable early March hearing and then an appearance in the senate.
Brian Smith, of Blackfoot River Brewing Co., has some intimate knowledge of legislative activities from years of working in the leg. Who better to explain the situation.
From a comment left by Brian:
HB400 has passed the Montana House on a 80-20 vote and has been referred to committee in the Senate. It will probably come up for the hearing sometime in the first or second week of March.
The amendment that Don referred to was negotiated by the Department of Revenue and the Montana Brewers Association (MBA). The amendment essentially states that in order for a beer to exceed the 8.75% ABV it must have a fermentable malt base of 75% or greater. The DOR has great concern with high alcohol, inexpensive products in 24 oz cans being marketed in C-stores. The Department was adamantly opposed to HB400 until we crafted this amendment. Essentially, the amendments means only beers that are “almost” all-malt will be able to be sold with a higher alcohol content. The 75% fermentable base was chosen to allow some traditional beer styles such as Belgian, English, & Scottish strong ales that
may use refined sugar or adjuncts such as candy sugar, brewers crystals, brown sugar, etc. as part of the fermentable base.
Please do contact legislators and ask for their support on this bill. In particular, the committee members on the Senate Business, Labor & Economic Affairs.
The MBA’s support is the primary reason this bill is going forward. Our association’s decision to increase our dues by 500% and hire an enthusiastic Executive Director/Lobbyist (Tony Herbert) has been instrumental in gaining support for this bill. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Deb Kottel (D-Great Falls) has been a real champion for this issue as well. Beer drinkers of Montana should be very proud of the job she has done – you should have heard her speech on the House floor – very inspiring!
Visit http://www.montanabrewers.org to see who the Montana craft brewers are who are committed to improving our beer loving community!
Do what he says.
Great has been the debate about drinking beer while fighting a cold, as master Yoda would say. But, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
The health affects of beer are noted here, and it’s not the yeast, the malt or the hops that cure what ails you, it’s the alcohol that tends to have the greatest impact on your health.
Still, what do you do when you’ve got a nasty headcold, and you still want to enjoy a good beer? Is this even wise? Which beers do you recommend oh sick one?
Well, to start, if you want to drink a beer while you’re fighting off a nasty headcold, then go ahead and do it. Too much beer will lower your immune system’s already flagging libido, so try to stick to one or two. And, since you cannot possibly taste or smell anything, try to pick a beer with some added nutrients.
Our own Kettlehouse Brewing Co. puts out an elixer known as Ginseng Pale Ale. This brew, available only in the tap room, has the benefit of added ginseng, which is known to have health-giving properties.
If you can find it, Wisconsin brewery BluCreek’s Zen (Green Tea) IPA might give you a health dose of catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. I could explain what this is, but I’m a beer writer, not a green tea writer. Suffice it to say, green tea in your beer can’t hurt you, and what can’t hurt you only makes you better, right?
Or, you could try and add some berry into your beer consumption. Berries, especially blue ones, are known to have a lot of incredible health attributes. So, it’s no stretch to think that berries in beer might be a good remedy for a head cold, or at least a good excuse to drink a beer while you’re sick. There are many blueberry beers out there, but if you want real taste, try some of Montana’s huckleberry beers. I’m thinking maybe Lang Creek’s Huckleberry N’ Honey or Great Northern Brewing’s Wild Huckleberry Wheat Lager. On a side note, neither of those breweries have a working website, which I think is cheesy, but I put the link in in case they get around to fixing the problem.
Hey, Grizzly Growler fans, my friend Chuck, who tends bar as Soggy Coaster over at Beer at 6512, was good enough to write up a beer review for us. Spend some time on his blog.
Review: The Czar Imperial Stout (Avery)
The Czar is brewed with plentiful Hallertau hops, English yeast and imported malted barley.
This beer’s massive profile (11.7 percent ABV, 70 IBUs) puts it in league with The Abyss (11 percent ABV, 65 IBUs), a stout from Deschutes Brewery in Oregon that is among the best beers ever to have passed Soggy Coaster’s lips.
Soggy Coaster found a 22-oz. bottle of The Czar at Liquor World for $6.79. Star Liquors also stocks it.
The Czar pours an inky black. A small head recedes quickly. This beer’s aroma asserts itself before the first taste. A lot of coffee and something toasted dominate the smell.
At first taste, one notices The Czar’s carbonation, much more present than in other imperial stouts. The coffee taste jumps to the front, followed by a little hop bitterness at finish. The hops seem to outweigh the malt.
The last sip tastes much as the first. This beer lacks the complexity to develop different flavors during the course of a session. A nice red tinge does develop, however.
Soggy Coaster found this beer to be disappointing. Imperial stouts should be fantastic. They should be complex, flavorful and decadent. Given Avery’s successes with other beers, The Czar’s substantial price and Soggy Coaster’s personal inclination toward imperial stouts, he expected to be wowed. He was not.
The brewery promises complexity comes to The Czar with age. Yet some of us don’t want to age our beers. Some of us want to drink them. Other imperial stouts are born with more complexity than The Czar would accrue after years stowed away in a cellar.
Judged by the standards of all beer styles, The Czar is still impressive. But it would not take the imperial stout slot on Soggy Coaster’s brewing all-star team. B+
Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is a double post, but I’m working on some heavy duty reporting stuff regarding asbestos and such. I didn’t want you to think I’ve forgotten you.
If you live in Montana, please remember to call your congressman and tell him or her how to vote on HB 400. It will reach the floor either tomorrow or Friday. This bill needs to pass just to get us on the right track for our breweries in Montana. Without this, it’s another two years of wrangling with the diminishing, yet surprisingly virulent, MTA.
If you want breaking news updates on the vote, please follow the growler’s twitter feed at www.twitter.com/grizzlygrowler. I post the newest, shortest news pieces and the places to find beer or where I’m drinking here.
Secondly, but not leastly, I’m posting a link to the great New York Times drink writer Eric Asimov. He’s done a brilliant article on barrel-aged beers. You’ll find it here.
This just in from Bjorn Nabozney at Big Sky Brewing Co.:
House Bill 400 has passed out of committee on a 14-4 vote, and will be hitting the house floor later on this week or early next week. So, we are one third of the way to being able to legally brew and sell stronger beers to our distributors and through our taproom. If any of you have friends/relatives etc. in the legislature please let them know that this is an important bill for Big Sky Brewing Company.
This bill is important for all Montana’s craft breweries. It’s time to send a message.
Get involved, make some calls. Let your legislator know how you feel.
The popularity of canned beers is soaring around the west. After trying aluminum bottles several years ago, Big Sky Brewing Co. has returned to the idea of canned beers. The company purchased a canning machine, one of only two sold in the U.S. so far. The other machine is owned by New Belgium Brewing Co.
Big Sky Brewing Co. will produce Moose Drool and Trout Slayer in cans for the time being. It is this blogger’s hope that other styles, like the IPA and Scape Goat will follow suit.
Keep an eye on GrizzlyGrowler.Com for more information on when you can get your hands on a Big Sky beer in a can.
When I first came to Montana, I had no idea just how screwed up the beer laws are. I had come from Oregon, a state with a city with more breweries per city block than anywhere on earth. A state where you can brew and sell beer with alcohol limits greater than wine.
But changing Montana’s beer laws didn’t seem to be that big of a challenge until I ran into the formidable and well-funded MTA. Over the course of the last two years, I have tried to bring up the issue of restrictive liquor laws that keep Montana breweries from becoming the tourist attracting hot spots they can be. Unfortunately, the MTA has more money and law school-slick voices than I have readers.
We (beer lovers) are at a very interesting crossroads. In the next few weeks, state legislators will decide if brewers can make and sell beer up to 14 percent alcohol by volume. While not the true concessions the brewers would like or find usefull, it will represent a major step forward.
This is where all of you come in. The most effective form of citizen participation is direct communication with lawmakers. By contacting your district representatives and senators with your concern about fair laws governing Montana’s breweries, you can help change minds that have been persuaded by money and lobbyists for the MTA going back decades.
Take a moment to do this, and you’ll be a part of a process that can only help restore one’s faith in the system, a faith bolstered by the fact that for the first time in our long history, a black man sits in the Oval Office. Makes me think that maybe, just maybe, this is our year.
Although it wasn’t me that got to drink the frothy beverage from this mug, I’m totally flattered by the thought. And, I plan to be at Bitter Root Brewery to enjoy a cold one from this very mug soon.
We drove into Libby at 10:40 a.m. The inversion was thick like pea soup, and the air was moist and the biting cold pierced my my three layers of clothing. It’s difficult to spend time in this town without thinking about what you’re breathing in the air or kicking up with your heals, though a blanket of snow eases the mind somewhat.
But, it is really difficult to spend time in Libby without thinking about the people who live and breath the air and kick the dust every day, wondering if some hidden killer is lurking in their lungs waiting to pop up like a piece of vermiculite in the hands of a young boy with a lighter.
The inversion broke around 2:30 p.m., with streams of sunlight ricocheting off white mountains onto to sidewalks that glisten with ice, not vermiculite as some reporters have said.
We recently went through a long period of inversions in Missoula, and I know how dispiriting they can be. I can only imagine how much worse it must be for Libbyans who are wondering what the identity of their town will be when someone finally decides how clean is clean enough and how safe is safe enough.
So, I was stoked to find a six-pack of Inversion IPA from Deschutes Brewing Co. at the local grocery store. A good IPA can take you mind of the troubles of the day, or help you process all the stories from a town of people who’ve lived more stories than most of us will ever hear in a lifetime.
Good luck Libby, the community spirit that is alive in this town is an encouraging sign that good things will come.
Located in the historic Bitterroot Valley, Blacksmith Brewing Co. just so happens to be the newest brewery in the state, and, coincidentally, it happens to be located in the oldest community in the state.
Take a drive down the Highway 93 to quiet Stevinsville, and you’ll find a community of people that rally around the good things that make up life in the valley. Locally produced beer is one of them.
With no kegs or distribution chains, Blacksmith Brewing Co. is focused on producing great beer for the people of Stevensville and surrounding communities.
Brewer Mike Howard has produced a line of fine beers that fall under traditional styles but with their own unique interpretations. From a Brickhouse Blonde to his Black Iron IPA, these full-flavored beers are great for new beer lovers to old connoisseurs alike.
Co-owners Pamela Kaye and Erik Hayes teamed up to turn an old Blacksmith shop into a work of art. The high, open ceilings provide a modern look on a building steeped in history. Old brands from Bitterroot Valley ranchers from the past and present adorn the walls, and the tools and elements that line the walls can recite a history all their own.
Take a trip down the Bitterroot Valley to Blacksmith Brewing Co., and experience the best of Montana’s past and future.