The proverbial question in Missoula, Montana these days is: When will the Kettlehouse Brewing Co.’s Northside taproom open?
There is no good answer for that, as evidenced by brewery owner Tim O’Leary’s cryptic post on Facebook recently.
Tim O’Leary I’m thinking a reasonable opening date of June 2osomething is not out of the question for the Northside. We’re canning and trying to get caught up on distributor’s orders first.
But, if you read between the lines, you’ll see that one, they are brewing and canning at the new location above the Orange Street underpass. You can also see from another cryptic post by O’Leary that the new Double Haul IPA cans are soon to be released.
So, if you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, then this is a good day for you. If you’re anything else, go have a beer and try to relax a little.
There are few things in life more frightening to me then getting up in front of a group of beautiful women to talk. But that’s what I did tonight.
After the first few awkward minutes of stumbling over words and sweating profusely, the classy group of women helped me settle into a good working rhythm as we compared beer to wine in the world of food.
It was the second installment of Big Sky Brewing Co.’s Betty’s For Beer, a four-night course on all things beer but catered to the feminine perspective.
Part of the reason I didn’t advertise this class in advance is the fact that it needs no advertising. Women seem to come from every walk of life to take the class, and rosters have been full for months, which means there are lot of women who want to know more about beer.
And who can blame them? Beer is more approachable, more food friendly, more broadly adaptable to food and much less pretentious than wine. Now, I’m not knocking wine, I love the stuff, but beer is a much friendlier beverage than wine.
So, for tonight’s class, we tasted four wines with the four basic tastes. We had a Pinot Gris, a dry Riesling, a chardonnay and a tempranillo with a plate with dabs of mustard, sweet and sour sauce, spicy mayonnaise, frosting and a couple of texture foods in tapenade and goat’s cheese into which we dipped pretzels.
The idea is to find out how wine reacts to the four basic tastes, salt, bitter, sour and sweet. The heat and texture foods were there to throw a twist in the tasting process.
After running through the wines to find out what we liked and didn’t like, we matched up four of Big Sky Brewing Co.’s beers with the wines. We put up Summer Honey with the Riesling, a chardonnay with Scape Goat, a Tempranillo with IPA and a Pinot Gris with Trout Slayer. The idea is not to match the wine with the beer exactly but to give an idea of what beer styles roughly compare to which wine styles.
After tasting through two courses, many of the ladies in tonight’s class could differentiate the basic tastes enough to know which wines and which beers they preferred with their food.
This can be a great exercise at home. Get some wines and beers and taste them side by side with various foods with base flavors. You’ll find out an awful lot about what you really like about wine and beer.
If you’re interested in future Betty’s For Beer classes, check with Alix or Mel in the taproom at Big Sky Brewing Co. And keep an eye out for advanced beer appreciation classes in the near future.
And by all means, go buy some beer and try it with your favorite meal soon. I promise you won’t be disappointed. While beer is food, it’s also great with food.
Thank you ladies for all you taught me tonight!
I’ve had a lot of comments and questions about live beer recently. And while this video isn’t necessarily a full explanation, the delivery and general entertainment quality of the individual were enough for me to post it here today. Also, it helps me get caught up from a busy weekend of wine tasting. And now back to your beer.
The W’ 09 Belgian Golden Ale does not indicate another George W. Bush run for president. The W stands for the indefatigable Widmer Brothers of Portland, Oregon.
This beer is blatently fantastic. It’s got all the flavor of a big Belgium blonde and the alcohol to boot. With flavors of straw, fruit, earthy yeast and a gentle spice fringe to it, this beer holds up well to its 6.5 percent ABV.
My favorite part of this beer is the way it balances like a good Belgian. It doesn’t have that clean characteristic so common in American-style Belgian beers. I’m told it’s the water here, which, compared to many other countries, actually is cleaner and more free of additional flavors. I can almost believe that Widmer chemically changed the water to resemble something from northwest Europe.
This beer would pair nicely with mussels, fish & chips and grilled chicken salad.
I’m not going to assume all of you have seen the movie “Beer Fest,” but if you have, then you know what I mean. I’ve always wanted to drink from a boot, and thanks to beer buddy Beau, I can now say I have.
That’s the way I’m looking at it anyway. Don’t be too thrown off here. I’ll get this all dressed up soon enough, and we’ll be back to talking craft beer in no time. For now, I hope you enjoy some of the new features, including the beer poll in the upper right-hand corner and the new Flickr feed that shows some of the latest beer adventures.
Lot’s a good stuff going on at Bitter Root Brewing these days, including personal notes from head brewer Paul Thomas and a brand-new website.
Here’s the latest in Paul’s own words:
June/July: We will have a summer beer out during this time, it will be a huckleberry hefeweizen, with any luck. Jake the assistant will be in charge of this, his first “whim” beer. We will have the American Amber in bottles June 1st, and plan to keep it on tap and in bottles year-round as a 4th addition to our flagship beers. The last single hop ale with the summit hops literally flew out the taps, so another with Amarillo hops may be in the works for this time frame, we’ll see…..Our new website is officially on line, check it out at http://www.bitterrootbrewing.com, it is night and day compared to the old one. Other than that, we will be gearing up for summer soon, and have added a “new ” assistant brewer, Tony Wickham to our team, though he has been involved in the brewery one way or another since the beginning. So we should be ready to provide some great beer to the Montana masses this summer!
I need to heed my own advice and get down and visit these guys soon.
I don’t like making beer lists, because finding new beers to try is what I’m all about. However, I have a few readers out there who live for beer lists, especially those featuring seasonal varieties. And since we’re just entering spring in the Northern Rockies, I thought I’d do a little bit on what I’m liking right now.
Spring, in the Northern Rockies, can be downright nasty. From frequent showers and snowstorms to a pleasant 60-degree day all in a few hours is not uncommon.
With that in mind, it can be tough to pick your favorite spring beers. Here’s what I do. I want a spring beer that still has a little alcoholic warmth to it and a little body as well. You know, for those cold April nights.
This year’s picks:
Lagunita’s Imperial Red Ale: Ever since a few skater punks began handing out beer in their small Santa Rosa brewery, I’ve been stoked on nearly every style they brew. The Imperial Red Ale kind of defines spring beers for me.
Inversion IPA: Aside from the fact that this one the IPA category at the Garden City Brewfest this year, Deschutes Brewing Co.’s Inversion IPA is a phenomenal spring beer with enough kick to get really take the sting out of that early season hiking or the chill off when you wade the rivers.
Dead Guy Ale: Many of my fellow bloggers usually pick this beer in their fall lineups, but I find it to be a great spring beer as well. This malt bomb delivers a great combination of flavor and warmth without the heaviness of a stout or porter.
India Brown Ale: Dogfish Head’s India Brown Ale just might be the perfect hybrid for spring. Characteristic IPA hoppiness with lush brown malt accents in a great blend of fantastic styles.
Highlander Scotch Ale: With its distinctive sweet maltiness and silky smoke flavors, Missoula Brewing Co’s Highlander bears no resemblance to its namesake. However, as a spring beer, this one stands out for its balance of easy drinkability and developed tastes and flavors. Oh, and it just won Best Montana Beer at the Garden City Brewfest.
Get out and get some beer and enjoy spring to the fullest.
I think back to those Muslim alchemists of yesteryear. The discoveries they made by mixing various elements to create the groundwork for what would become the science of chemistry. Alchemy though, was part science and part magic.
And on days like yesterday, I’m convinced that there still are a few alchemists out there. My friend Matt Long is one.
The Big Sky head brewer called me into his office during a recent visit and told me he wanted me to try something. Now many people know Matt for producing some of Montana’s most well-known beers in Moose Drool, Trout Slayer, Scape Goat and Summer Honey. What many don’t know is that Matt likes to tinker with some brilliant new brewing ideas.
Take his wine-barrel aged Belgian Tripel for instance. Blended magic is what I call it.
Well, Matt even dazzled our resident wine writer, Kate Murphy, who is admittedly anti beer, with his newest creation.
Toying around with some of his Smoove Cherry Ale, Matt stored some in Grand Cru wine barrel for a while. He bottled some off, then, down there in the dregs of the barrel, where cherries mingled with beer and red wine, he found a little gem of a drink. Bottled and stored for a while, Matt popped one open for us to try.
Like cherry brandy or maybe an appassimento-style wine like Amarone, the cherries come off like rich leather and dried fruit with a silky smokiness to them. The beer, which mingles way beyond its traditional characteristics into the world of big red wines, is one-of-a-kind, and for now, it’ll have to stay that way. Matt’s not producing enough to sell.
However, if I can convince him of his genius, maybe we can talk him into brewing a big batch that we can all get our hands on.
Matt also stored some Smoove Cherry Ale in a port cask from Lake Missoula Cellars. While much richer and with darker, heavier characteristics traditionally associated with the port, this beer definitely had it’s own merits. The consensus was that the Smoove Cherry Grand Cru was tops.