It’s reported to be about 27-percent alcohol, and it has pushed the boundaries of modern brewing techniques. Sadly, you will not get to taste it in Montana, as it is clearly over the state’s newly instituted 14 percent ABV limit.
From the Associated Press -
BOSTON – It’s banned in 13 states and sure doesn’t come in a six-pack. The maker of Sam Adams beer has released an updated version of its biennial beer Utopias.
At 27 percent alcohol by volume and $150 a bottle, the limited release is now the highest alcohol content beer on the market.
The drink comes in a ceramic-and-copper bottle that resembles a tiny brew kettle. Thirteen states prohibit its sale because its alcohol content exceeds the legal limit for beer.
Since the 1990s, craft brewers like the Boston Beer Co. and the Delaware-based Dogfish Head have produced a number of “extreme beers” that challenge old notions of beer and the decades-old laws that have governed them.
The drink is not banned in Arizona, but the thirteen states that do ban it are: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington.
While cruising through Missoula’s Grizzly Liquors to find some Thanksgiving whiskey, someone pointed out that the Dry Fly Wheat Whiskey had made an appearance. Sure enough, I found it tucked in between some Jack Daniels bottles near the Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey.
Tasting and writing about new, craft-distilled whiskeys can be a perilous job. It’s not cheap, afterall, and you just never know what you’re going to get. What I discovered fairly early into my bottle of Dry Fly whiskey was a nicely rounded, very palatable drink for a two-year-old whiskey. I couldn’t tease out a lot of nuances, probably due to the onset of a head cold, but I found the flavors present to be intriguing and fun to try and identify.
I’m not all that familiar with wheat whiskeys as much as bourbons and rye whiskeys, but I do notice the wheat is softer and seems to give off a toasted biscuit flavor that I find very pleasant to sip on. It’s very different from other whiskeys, and perhaps Dry Fly will be able to brand around this, although I hear they might be coming out with a Bourbon next, as they wait for the single-malt whiskey to age five years.
We sipped this whiskey in Reidel’s whisky glasses, and it gave off a perfume of wood and spice with some vanilla creme brule creaminess on the nose and in the taste. There was not as much heat as I anticipated, but this was aged for two years in charred-whiskey barrels.
For fun, I tried this whiskey with Coke and found it to be a nice pairing, with some of the biscuit flavors I mentioned earlier playing well with the caramel and cola flavors.
For my tastes though, this whiskey is a sipper, and at less than $50 a bottle, it’s a nice, local whiskey to serve to visitors, especially during the holiday season.
I woke up to a sunshiny, beautiful day, and I found myself actually wishing for snow. It might have something to do with the fact that a buddy hooked me up with a new snowboard this year or the fact that I was able to get my wife and kids outfitted this year and we won’t be renting any more. Whatever it is, I’m craving the white stuff in the form of powdery first runs. But the hills are bear, so I’m encouraging any of you who can make it up to Tamarack Brewing this Saturday to attend the Wake Up Old Man Winter Party. Here are the details:
WAKE UP OLD MAN WINTER!…… Let it snow, let it snow, cuz we are going to drink until it does…For the third year in a row, Tamarack will be hosting Lakeside’s Annual WAKE UP OLD MAN WINTER PARTY on Saturday, December 5th. And once again, this party is shaping up to be killer!You see, December 5th just happens to be the 76th anniversary of the end of prohibition, a day whose significance is so great that it ranks right up there with winning the lottery, falling in love, or taking over first place in your fantasy football pool (go TATA’s!)So here’s what we’ve got: great drink specials on Canadian Whisky in honor of the Northerners who helped out a Yank or two who needed a little bit of the good stuff even when the rules said no way (who likes rules anyhow?). We’ve got Santa making an appearance from 3:00 – 5:00, so pop in and have a beer with him (oh yah, and get a photo with him, too, bring the kids!)You can get your Blacktail passes or pass photos that evening… just stay away from the Cross-eyed Christmas until AFTER your photo is taken… if you are a boring chicken! Goofy pass photos rock.We’re tapping CROSS-EYED CHRISTMAS just in time for the festivities that day, and we’ve got Pedactor PROJECT at 8:00 so you can shake your thing once the Whisky starts talking to you.
There are few things more enjoyable than the warm sense of camaraderie in the hours after a sporting event in which the outcome favors your team. The high-fives and back slaps give way to finding a warm, comfortable place to relive the game over a pint of beer, and you look around for anyone nearby who might want to celebrate with you today.
That’s how I felt today. No, the Ducks didn’t play today, but since I’m living in Missoula, Montana now, the local sports heroes become yours by default. And so I watched the undefeated Griz (they have not lost a game since I moved to Montana two-years-ago) come back from a 41-14 deficit to beat the South Dakota Jack Rabbits 61-48.
Suddenly, I felt like being around other people and celebrating the 98-yard touchdowns on kickoff returns and the brave goal-line defenses. Unfortunately, I was right in the middle of putting up Christmas lights, and a trip into town just wasn’t going to work. So the wife and I took off for a quick little sip and some of that camaraderie at Big Sky Brewing Co., which is by our house.
Whispers of: “Did you see that game?” and “How ’bout Mariani?” filled the taproom as we ordered our tasters.
Most of you know that Big Sky does a phenomenal Belgian, especially in their Belgian Tripel, but I’ll bet not a lot of you know about Big Sky’s Belgian Brown Ale.
Big and brown with a sweet malt back and just a hint of hops, this beer, as are other Belgian beers, is characterized by its yeasty aroma and fruity flavors. Darker and less tropical than the tripel, this dubbel has some dark fruits like black cherry on its nose, and the body comes across with some brighter, more floral notes like apple and pineapple fruit leathers.
Belgian brown ales are some of the best beers to cook with, while they also make excellent sippers. Generally perceived as heavier than tripels, dubbels might go unnoticed in the world of beer if it weren’t for their yeasty breadiness that really creates a fascinating beer experience when paired with food.
Generally, I like Belgian browns paired with dark roasted dishes. Big Sky’s Belgian brown is awesome with wild-game dishes and roasted root veggies among other pairings.
Get some while you can, it’s currently on tap down at the taproom.
If you’re passing through Polson today, they tapped a keg of the Shotgun Winter Warmer last night. The prediction is that it will be gone by Saturday night. If you had some, let me know what it was like.
Just saw this beer over at BeerBews.org, and now I’m on a mission from God. I have to find this beer.
Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project just released Babayaga in bottles, which is described as woodland stout. Apparently this beer is made with smoked malts and rosemary, which I think is a very interesting partnership, and one that I wish I could have had with our Thanksgiving meal.
The other reason I have to have this beer is that I grew up with the stories of Babayaga, a witch from Eastern European folklore. There’s not a Slavic kid out there who doesn’t know about the crazy, old witch and her propensity for eating children.
Time to start calling all my Massachusetts friends to see if I can line up a bottle of this for Christmas.
I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Beer is but a small footnote in the list of things I’m thankful for, but since I write a beer blog, I must include it here.
I’m thankful for a good job and the ability to provide for my family. I’m thankful for being able to do a job that I truly love. I’m thankful for the freedom to write about what I want and to be able to explore the world of craft beer.
I’m also thankful for good friends and their suggestions, encouragement and criticism when necessary.
In honor of that, here’s a couple of extra Thanksgiving tips from my good friend and fellow beer aficionado Chuck Slothower, who tends bar over at Beer at 6512.
Happy Thanksgiving to you, my good man. I like your Levitation suggestion. That beer has huge flavor for its low alcohol profile. And Mirror Pond is an old favorite. For Thanksgiving, I’m starting with Durango Dark Lager (not unlike Full Sail’s Session Black), followed by a Belgian sour (Duchesse de Bourgogne) to pair with the turkey, finished with a squirreled-away bottle of Black Butte XXI with dessert. Good health to you and yours!
Same to you Chuck, I’m inspired by your beer choices. Keep sharing the beer wisdom with us, your faithful followers.
Thanks to you, my readers. Without you, this would be very self indulgent.
So far we’ve had a barley wine breakfast and some session beer for the long, holiday football game. Now it’s time for the main course, so to speak. Every Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I see people searching frantically through the wine section at their grocery store for some wine that will match some part of their holiday meal. Perhaps it’s a wine to match a rich, roasted game dish or a dessert wine, but no matter how hard they try, they will not find a wine that will match the entire meal. And thus you see them leaving with a six-pack carrier full of different wines.
Such a feat is possible with beer, however. Thought you don’t necessarily need to try. If your Thanksgiving meal is served in courses, feel free to try a few different beer styles to match the various moods of your courses.
But let’s start with one, overall beer for Thanksgiving dinner.
Most traditional turkey dinners are a rich tapestry of flavors and textures, not all of which go smoothly together or with a single beverage. However, if you analyze the meal as a whole, you’ll see that it generally lacks fire heat, which means hops and higher alcohol are acceptable, and it can mix bland and sharp flavors like mashed potatoes and cranberries, which means the beer should be neither too heavy nor too light.
For this kind of food, I like to look in the craft beer world’s meaty center. Medium ales and lagers to slightly heavy are best. And beers with a great balance of malt and hops are best. You can’t go wrong with pale ales, amber ales, medium Pilsners, Belgian tripels of even a Belgian sour.
Here are Some beers I would look for as an overall accompanist to your T-Day meal:
Saison Dupont from Brasserie Dupont – Light, grassy and refreshing, will not fill you up and should pair nicely with
Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co. – This is a heavy beer, but if you pour it like you would a $50 bottle of wine, it just might be the nicest pairing you’ll ever have.
Cuvee Rene from Lindemans – This is a sour beer, but if you want to really get interesting with tastes and flavors around your Thanksgiving Day spread, this beer might be perfect.
For some more familiar beers to try:
Mirror Pond Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewing Co. – A dry, crisp pale ale with some maltiness that will lend itself to lighter vegetable dishes and some hops to cut through greasy gravies.
Lake Missoula Amber from Kettlehouse Brewing Co. – A rounded, malty amber that could bring out the caramelized flavors of turkey skin and roasted root vegetables. If you don’t live in Missoula, many amber ales will have these characteristics and might be a great match for Thanksgiving.
Levitation Ale from Stone Brewing Co. – The caramel malts and residual sweetness on this beer make it a great overall Thanksgiving Day beer, and a few bottles of this spread around the table won’t feel that much different than having wine bottles around. This might be my favorite pairing this year.
As for matching various courses with different beers, keep in mind that pale ales work well with salads and appetizers, while ambers and Belgians side nicely with heavier courses. I won’t go into desserts, as I know believe that almost any bourbon-barrel-aged stout is a perfect dessert in and of itself or along side your favorites. Make sure you have a bottle of something on hand this Thanksgiving.
With that, I’ll conclude the Thanksgiving Day Beer Primer. Just remember that it’s all about personal taste and style. If you find something that looks good, try it. If you don’t want to experiment, these beers are a guideline, and you can replace any one recommendation with others in the same style.
And I’ll just take a moment to say thank you to all the craft breweries and fans of craft beer who make this blog all that it is. It’s your interest and dedication to craft beers that bring this to life. May you have much to be thankful for this year.
Here’s an update from Red Lodge Ales, in case you find yourself in that neck of the woods over the holiday weekend.
Happy holidays dear friends!
I would like to give you an update on Sam’s Tap Room & Kitchen and Red Lodge Ales before your holiday schedules become too full.
1. Holiday Specials
Monday: $1.50 beers from 4-6pm
Tuesday: FREE 10oz. beer with purchase of a baked sandwich
Wednesday: Wicked Cheap growler fills $6.00
Thursday: Thursday NITRO $2.25 FOR 16oz. nitro pints
2. 11th Sandwich FREE punch card. Eat at Sam’s Tap Room & Kitchen ten times and get your 11th sandwich FREE. Thanks for coming and your welcome!
3. Seasonal Beer
King’s Cupboard Chocolate Stout – A black stout brewed for the holidays with seventy five pounds of chocolate from the King’s Cupboard in Red Lodge. Creamy with coffee and chocolate notes, the stout is available on nitro. Alcohol content: 5% by volume. Available in ½ bbls and 1/6 bbls from late November until early-mid January.
Widow Maker – A golden Bock beer. Biscuit malt flavors predominate. The 6.5% alcohol content lends a warmth to the smooth lager finish. Brewed to celebrate Red Lodge Mountain Resort’s 50th anniversary. Available in ½ bbls and 1/6 bbls from late November until early-mid January.
Broken Nail Double IPA- 8.5% Alcohol , lots of hop-bitterness and flavor. Double dry hopped. We will update as the beer develops in the aging tank. Available in ½ bbls, 1/6 bbls, and 22oz bomber bottles from early December until late February. Bomber bottles make GREAT Christmas gifts!
Thanksgiving: Thursday Nov. 26th. Sorry Sam’s Tap Room & Kitchen will be CLOSED. Don’t forget to fill your growlers the night before at Wicked Cheap Growler Night.
Sausage Fest Pot Luck: Sunday Dec. 13th. It’s not just about the men anymore! 6-9pm at Sam’s Tap Room & Kitchen. Bring something to share or be a judge and vote for your favorite dish. Don’t forget to bring your recipe!
Live Music: Friday Dec. 18th. Come enjoy Tim Nordstrom perform at Sam’s Tap Room & Kitchen. 6-8pm.
Christmas: Friday Dec. 25th. Sorry Sam’s Tap Room & Kitchen will be CLOSED.
Town Series party: Friday Jan 8th. Bring your ski team down to celebrate the first week of town series! Drink beer, eat food and win prizes for fastest racers!
Director of Good Times
And just what on earth is a beer steward? Well, it would sound pretentious to say that a beer steward is like the steward of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, one who holds a kingdom in order until an heir to the royal line can be found to take his rightful place on the throne. So I’ll give it another definition. A beer steward is like a beer courier, only given a more respectful title, as befits their status among beer lovers in remote outposts.
For me, a beer steward is one of those thoughtful human beings who, upon returning from a long journey, presents me with malted, hopped beverages from afar. And while the occasional vacationing sojourner brings me said beverages, it’s usually around the holidays, when my Missoula friends scatter to the four corners, that I am endowed with cellar building beers in various styles and vintages.
Why just this last week, my good friends and beer aficionados, Justin and Jen Grigg brought me two delightful-looking beers from the microbrewery capital of Australia, the state of Victoria.
And this week, with many friends heading out of town, I know I’ll be the recipient of other interesting beers of the world.
Just this morning, my good friend Beau McBryde offered to bring me back some beer from the great state of Nebraska. And here’s where I need your help, dear readers, what, if you could have any craft brew from that state, would you pick?
Send me your answers soon, as Beau and his bride take off Thursday morning.