Beginning on Sunday, Bitter Root Brewing is putting on Beer Bailout days with $3 pints and $1 off glassware and growler fills. To kick things off, the brewery is holding a Bailout Bash from 4-7 p.m. with food and music by the Big Sky Mudflaps. If you can’t make it then don’t worry, Beer Bailout days will take place Tuesdays and Sundays thereafter.
- Matt Pritchard
It’s back to reality (i.e. work) for me after a great Christmas with the family. This year, the majority of my presents revolved around beer in one way or another: 2 bottle openers, a Kettlehouse Nalgene growler with fill, a glass that’s shaped like an upside-down bottle on the inside, a “punctuation” mug and a book about homebrewing. Thanks to all for the great gifts. I’ll have no problem using them.
Also, on Christmas morning my dad, brother and I tasted a couple “breakfast beers” (in quotes because after tasting, not sure if they both quality) while eating breakfast and opening presents. The first was Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout that I picked up at the Good Food Store. Its silky texture and smooth taste went great with the egg and sausage quiche we had in the morning. The second was Rogue’s Mocha Porter that I got at Warden’s in Missoula. Not sure if I just wasn’t ready for it or because I had it after the Oatmeal Stout, but the Mocha Porter was just too rich and too roasty for my liking at midmorning.
All in all it was a great Christmas, hope everyone out there had a great one, too.
- Matt Pritchard
Quarry Brewing is holding a New Year’s Eve party on Friday from 5-8 p.m. in their taproom. There’ll be appetizers, live music and of course their selection of fine craft beers. If you’re in Butte, ring in the new year early with a pint or two. Also, might want to check out their revamped website.
- Matt Pritchard
Evan S. Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch delves into the culinary world with tips on cooking with beer. Some of the specific brews might not be available in your area, so why not go local and use what you have?
Cooking with beer – as an ingredient, not just a treat for the cook – is one of the best ways to spotlight the beverage’s versatility and draw out its elemental flavors.
It’s a pity, then, that so many mainstream cookbooks and recipes rarely get more specific than suggesting using “beer,” which is about as helpful as calling for a cup of vegetables or a tablespoon of dairy.
Different styles can impart varying qualities to your dish, so it’s important to find recipes that specify particular beer types or to experiment until you discover what beer works best.
I once tried using a hoppy India Pale Ale in the braising liquid for beef brisket. The long cooking time concentrated the hop bitterness into a harsh, astringent-tasting flavor that did the meat no favors.
Instead, I’ve found that malt-forward lagers like Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Shmaltz Coney Island Lager and Yuengling Lager are excellent choices. They lend a caramelized sweetness and roasted nuttiness that play off the salt and richness of the meat.
For a twist, I made the brisket recipe with St. Louis-based Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. Its spicy cinnamon and clove elements mellowed during the long braise, giving the meat and sauce a deep flavor that ground spices alone might not have achieved.
Despite my failed IPA brisket experiment, hoppy beers do have a place in the kitchen. A recipe for roasted-garlic IPA mashed potatoes is one that has serious crossover appeal from beer fans to foodies.
Sean Paxton, who created the dish for his site, homebrewchef.com, says almost any IPA will do, but he goes so far as to recommend ones brewed with Summit or Columbus hops, which have an earthiness (some describe Summit hops as “oniony”) that complements the roasted garlic.
The beer – only a few tablespoons – is added at the end of the cooking process, to layer in some extra flavor. This allows the pungent hops to shine without having to worry about them turning acrid like in the brisket incident.
Also, because you’ll have the better part of a bottle to finish, choose a beer that you enjoy drinking.
Few beer-and-food marriages are more harmonious than mussels steamed in white ale or witbier, a style that is traditionally brewed with coriander and orange peel. Instead of the (equally delicious) buttery lemon broth that results from using dry white wine, using white ale creates a heady bouquet of spice and citrus.
Mussels have a quick cooking time, which means whatever beer you choose will retain many of its original flavors.
Has anyone out there made mashed potatoes with an IPA? Like to know the results.
- Matt Pritchard
Wondering what do to with all those empty beer bottles? Target is now (and has been for eight months) accepting empty, and clean, bottles for recycling at its stores across the country. In Missoula, there are bins located in the front of the store and the glass is then shipped to Oregon. People dropping off larger loads of glass are asked to call (406) 543-4000 ahead of time. Read more about the program here.
- Matt Pritchard
Belt’s Harvest Moon Brewing Co., maker of Beltian White among other beers, is in the middle of an expansion to nearly triple its capacity to cater to out-of-state markets. Here’s the story by Erin Madison of the Great Falls Tribune:
GREAT FALLS – On a recent morning, Stan Guedesse answered the phone at Harvest Moon Brewing Co. in Belt.
The caller was from Spokane, wondering if Harvest Moon’s beer was available there.
“We get those calls all the time,” said Guedesse, co-owner of the brewery.
Harvest Moon beer isn’t available in Spokane, but it may be soon.
The Belt brewery is undergoing an expansion that will nearly triple the amount of beer the company is able to brew, allowing it to expand to out-of-state markets.
Harvest Moon opened its doors in 1996, and has been in its current facility since 1999. In 2006, it expanded the building and added a bottling line.
However, it is now operating at capacity, and has been for some time.
“We’re kind of stuck right now,” Guedesse said. “We can’t expand any further in our market.”
Harvest Moon beer currently is available in three out-of-state markets – Jackson Hole, Wyo.; Madison, Wis.; and Williston, N.D.
Guedesse said he hears of a lot of interest in the beer from people in Washington, Idaho, Minnesota and other states.
With its current brewing capacity, it would be impossible for Harvest Moon to enter those markets, he said.
“We couldn’t begin to venture out that far,” Guedesse said.
However, that will change when the brewery’s new brew house goes online in late winter or early spring.
The new setup will be a 30-barrel brewery. Harvest Moon currently has a 17-barrel operation. With its current set up, it can brew 34 barrels a day, but after the expansion it can brew up to 90 barrels a day.
About a year ago, microbrews across the country and in Montana saw a big jump in popularity, said Dave Irvin, general manager of Eagle Beverage, Harvest Moon’s distributor in Great Falls.
Harvest Moon experienced that boost, too. Irvin said the Belt brewery has been able to keep up with local demand by operating at capacity.
“We run a little bit tight in the summertime,” he said.
But the new expansion should prevent that problem. “That’ll help keep up with the growth that we’re seeing,” Irvin said.
The expansion also will allow Harvest Moon to expand its beer offerings. The company currently makes four beer varieties – Pig’s Ass Porter, Beltian White, Charlie Russell Red and Great Falls Select.
“At one time, we had 10 beers on tap out here,” Guedesse said. The brewers eventually quit making some of the less popular beers and focused on the most popular varieties.
That was eight years ago, and people’s pallets as well as the microbrew industry have progressed to where some of those discontinued varieties likely will be popular again, Guedesse said.
“We’re bringing back our IPA,” he said. “We’ve tweaked it.”
The new or India Pale Ale is an imperial IPA. That means it has a stronger hop flavor and has a higher alcohol content.
The new beer, called Elevator IPA, should be available on tap in early to mid-January.
Harvest Moon plans to release it in bottles in the spring. After the IPA, the next addition will be a stout, Guedesse said. In September 2009, Harvest Moon added a canning system to its facility. So far, the brewery has offered only Beltian White in cans.
“This summer came around and it really took off,” Guedesse said.
Cans are particularly popular with rafters and campers, he said. The Kettle House Brewery in Missoula was the first microbrewery in Montana to can its beer, Irvin said. That was three or four years ago.
“Since then, micros in a can have been a lot more accepted,” he said.
Guedesse plans to start canning Great Falls Select in the spring. Harvest Moon’s canning line does about 30 cans a minute, compared with its bottling line, which does 125 bottles a minute. “I’m sure we’ll have to upgrade this some day,” Guedesse said of the canning system.
- Matt Pritchard
Polson’s Glacier Brewing Co. is prepping a new American Pale Ale at the request of its customers called Wildhorse Island Pale Ale or Wildhorse IPA. Dave Ayers says it should be ready in the first part of 2011 on draft and hopes to bottle thereafter.
“It will be a hoppy answer to all the requests I get for an IPA,” Ayers said in an e-mail.
To go along with the beer, Glacier Brewing is looking for a photo of Wildhorse Island to possibly use in the label design. If you have one you want to share, send it to email@example.com.
- Matt Pritchard
Appalachian State, the sometime Griz rival in the FCS playoffs, has filed permits to create a brewery on its campus so it can sell craft beer made by students and professors. Here’s the story by Monte Mitchell of the Winston-Salem Journal:
BOONE, N.C. – Appalachian State University trustees recently voted unanimously to pursue state and federal permits to establish a brewery that would allow the university to sell beer made by professors and students in brewery classes.
Ivory Tower Brewery, in the basement of the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center, is a small nonprofit brewery operated by university professors who taught an honors class in beer brewing to 12 students last spring.
The class covered the chemical, biological and production process of brewing malted beverages, including the science of how to combine hops, malt and yeast to produce styles and flavors of beer.
Since that beer was used for research and educational purposes by a university, it was legal. But selling beer is another matter.
“The university is authorized to sell products that are incidental to instructional and laboratory work already,” said Dayton Cole, ASU’s attorney. “But because alcoholic beverages are so heavily regulated, we need to get permits.”
Getting state and federal permits is part of a process that could mean that beer produced by ASU classes would be sold at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center as early as next summer, once the permits are in place.
It’s also a step in a continuing effort by the university to offer more classes in wine- and beer-making, and, eventually, start a four-year degree program in fermentation sciences.
Brett Taubman, an assistant professor of chemistry, and Shea Tuberty, an associate professor of biology, operate Ivory Tower Brewery and taught last spring’s class, “The Science, History and Business of Beer and Brewing.”
“With the production license, it’s sort of untrodden territory,” Taubman said. “By getting the permitting, we’ll be absolutely compliant under the eyes of the state and ABC. If we want to take it to the next level and sell the product, that’s great because it makes it a self-sustaining program.”
Money from sales of the beer could be put back into buying supplies and equipment.
Taubman is an analytical chemist. His specialty is studying how aerosols affect the atmosphere, but he’s also a self-described “obsessive brewer” who saw beer brewing as a way to interest students in science.
“There’s such great science in brewing,” he said. “I wanted to use it as an academic tool, and it’s kind of grown from there.”
There’s also an economic vision to the enterprise training workers for what is a growing business.
North Carolina has about 50 craft breweries, more than any other state in the South. Asheville, with some 50 local varieties of brews offered by nine craft breweries, is considered one of the top craft-beer cities in the nation.
“It’s really increased the tourism in that city,” Taubman said. “That’s what we see for the High Country as well.”
The university is aware that students often abuse beer, Taubman said. He said they are trying to deal with those problems.
“We’re trying to educate students about the entire process and to appreciate beer and the good beer so they won’t abuse the product,” he said.
As ASU continues developing its fermentation-sciences degree, one possibility being discussed is to team up with Surry Community College. Students would be able to study two years in the viticulture program there, then spend two years at ASU to receive a bachelor’s degree.
Surry Community College produces wine through its bonded winery and sells it in grocery stores and at festivals under the label Surry Cellars. Selling bottled beer produced by ASU is not on the immediate horizon, although it’s something the university could consider once it has brewery permits.
Jamie Bartholomaus, the brewmaster at Winston-Salem’s Foothills Brewing, taught a session in last spring’s program at ASU, giving students a basic overview of opening a brewery. He says that it’s one thing to teach people how to homebrew beer, but it would be a long process and big investment in staffing and facilities to compete with brewing schools.
Still, Bartholomaus said, jobs are available for people with a four-year degree in fermentation sciences.
“Breweries and craft beers are a booming business right now,” he said.
- Matt Pritchard
Beermapping.com, a website that uses Google Maps to point out breweries, pubs and more in cities across the globe, has declared today, Dec. 17, National Growler Day. They don’t really say why they chose today, but it’s still an idea that Grizzly Growler can get behind and it looks like it’s catching on. If you’re on Twitter just use #growlerday to show your support. And (like you need a reason) take some time out of the day to support your local brewery with a growler fill.
- Matt Pritchard
From the Associated Press:
HELENA – Sen. Max Baucus and Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota have a little extra riding on Saturday’s championship game between Carroll College and the University of Sioux Falls.
The second-ranked Saints (13-0) meet top-ranked Sioux Falls (13-0) in the NAIA national championship game Saturday in Rome, Ga.
The Montana Democrat’s office says Baucus has wagered a case of beer from Helena’s Lewis and Clark brewery against South Dakota buffalo steaks put up by Johnson.
Baucus says he’s made four similar bets in the past when Carroll has won championships, and that he hopes the winning tradition continues this weekend.
- Matt Pritchard