Missoula in known for a number of greats: scenery, people, fishing and (of course) microbrews.
Two of my favorite local beers are Cold Smoke and Summer Honey, from Kettlehouse Brewing Co. and Big Sky Brewing Co., respectively. Both are great for different reasons, and in case you’ve been living in the cave above Mount Sentinel, here’s a quick breakdown:
• Cold Smoke is a dark Scotch Ale imbued with roasted barley, giving it a “smoky” flavor.
• Summer Honey is of lighter fare, combining Northwest hops and Montana honey.
Being a notorious tinkerer, I decided to mix the two one night while barbecuing with the fam. The result? Quite possibly the best beer I’ve ever experienced. The two brews balance each other perfectly, dancing on the palate before smoothly slipping away.
I highly recommend that you stop reading this and immediately make your own. … But be warned: The blend is so fantastic that you may have a hard time drinking anything else. Seriously.
The tentative name for this delightful mix is Cold Honey, but here are some alternatives for your enjoyment:
• Summer Smoke – Depending on our fire season, this one may take the top slot.
• Missoula Black & Tan – Not as smooth on the tongue, but has the potential to unite the clans.
• Austin Ale – Shameless promo for the inventor, but clever use of the “AA” abbreviation.
Whatever you call it, please enjoy responsibly. And fret not, Jürgen, as I am sure there will be a Bayern blend very soon!
- Rod Austin is a Missoula native and local beer enthusiast. Reach him at rod.austin (at) gmail.com
I recently ran across this article by George Lenker breaking down 5 craft beer personality types: the beer geek, the beer populist, the beer gourmand, the know-it-all and the beer snob. Here’s a quick snippet of how Lenker describes each type:
The Beer Geek: They delight in talking about their favorite beers and rarely feel they need to come off (as) the smartest monkey in the brew zoo (even though they often are).
Beer Populists: While we are not obsessive, we really enjoy all types and styles of beer. Like beer geeks, we like to share our passion, but we do so by making craft beer seem accessible, which it is.
Beer Gourmands: These folks are casual craft beer drinkers (and) might even be seen enjoying a Michelob or a Budweiser once (in) a while.
The Know-It-All: These types are beer geeks with a flaw: They share their knowledge, but with an attitude that doesn’t encourage discussion.
Beer Snobs: Not only do they make beer aficionados like myself roll our eyes, they also turn off potential new craft beer lovers by their incessant need to dominate conversations.
I personally think labels like these are pretty lame, but Lenker does a pretty good job rounding them up. Where do you think you fall?
Read the full article here.
- Matt Pritchard
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks with a bachelor party in Los Angeles and a wedding in Denver, and both trips surely did not leave me wanting for beer (i.e. I’m taking several days to dry out before Wilco at Big Sky Brewing Co. - or at least trying to.)
Probably the best place I checked out was in Anaheim, Calif., before watching the Angels get shut out by the Diamondbacks. The brewery’s called Noble Ale Works and it’s a little hole in the wall in an industrial park less than a mile from Angel Stadium. (more…)
It’s about that time of year for the annual Big Sky BBQ Festival over at Big Sky Brewing Co. The festivities get going on Saturday, June 30, from 3 until 9 p.m. as part of a fundraiser for the Montana Food Bank Network. The cost is $4 and children 12 and under get in free.
Great Food: Eat some of Montana’s best mouthwatering BBQ from a variety of local BBQ!
- Finn and Porter
- Outback Steakhouse
- Lee Burns BBQ
- Longriders BBQ
- Mullan Station
- Burns Street Bistro
- Coldstone Creamery
Great Drinks: Big Sky Brewing Company products and water, and pop.
Free Kid’s Area: Featuring Jump 4 Joy’s inflatable jumper playhouse.
Great Music: Enjoy live music by:
- Tom Catmull and the Clerics
- Zeppo MT
- Cash for Junkers
- Mudslide Charlie
Also of note to all those fans out there, Big Sky Brewing Co.’s website has a new look. Check it out.
- Matt Pritchard
The upcoming Montana Brewers Festival is still a few months out, but I’m already getting excited for it. The brewfest this year moves from Bozeman to Missoula (yeah!) and takes place Saturday, Oct. 6, from 1 to 7 p.m. at Caras Park. If you happen to hold a Montana Brewers Association Brew Card, which is $25 and available here, you can get in an hour early.
The festival is said to boast the year’s “largest selection on Montana-made craft beer” and is to feature more than 20 Montana breweries and more than 60 Montana beers, although the list isn’t up yet. Here’s what the Montana Brewers Association, which organizes the festival, has to say:
The largest collection of Montana-made beer ever gathered in one place, it’s one-stop access to unique Montana brewers and their beers. Second in breweries-per-capita, Montana is a strong contestant as one of the greatest brewing states in the country, and is NOW #2 IN THE NATION IN BREWERIES PER CAPITA> Liquid proof of why beer sales far exceed the sales of wine and spirits combined in America. A variety of music will be heard throughout the day and delicious food will be served. So come join us and relax with your friends at this annual marquee celebration of Montana-made beer, at a great outdoor venue in Missoula.
Cost, according to the poster, is $12 for a glass and two tokens, plus $1 for beers thereafter. Bands scheduled to perform include the Growlers and Kung Fu Kongress, plus there’s going to be food to soak up the alcohol. Mark those calendars, it’s going to be a fun time.
FYI: The Griz are at Northern Colorado that day.
- Matt Pritchard
The North American Beer Awards were handed out last weekend in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Montana’s fine breweries fared pretty well. In western Montana, Kettlehouse Brewing Co. took home three awards, which included a gold for its “North” Double Haul as well as a bronze for its “South” Double Haul. Not quite sure on the difference between the two, I guess possibly the Northside’s is filtered while Myrtle Street’s isn’t. Bitter Root Brewing and Flathead Lake Brewing Co. also took home an award each. Montana Brewing Co., which always seems to do pretty well in these competitions, took home nine awards including four golds.
Here’s the list of Montana winners:
Bitter Root Brewing Co.
Bronze – Bitterroot Belgian Gold; Belgian-Style Pale Ale
Bozeman Brewing Co.
Gold – The Funky Virtue; American Style Wild or Sour Ales
Gold – Pinhead Pilsner; Bohemian-Style Pilsner, Dortmunder/Export
Bronze – Bozone Vienna Lager; Vienna Lager
Flathead Lake Brewing Co.
Bronze – Montucky Sour Cherry Brown; Flanders-Style Red or Brown Ale
Kettlehouse Brewing Co.
Gold – Double Haul North; English-Style India Pale Ale
Silver – ’09 Brick and Mortar Porter; Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale
Bronze – Double Haul South; English-Style India Pale Ale
Madison River Brewing Co.
Gold – Frostbite Barley Wine 09; American-Style Barley Wine
Gold – Copper John Scotch Ale; Scottish-Style Light, Heavy and Export
Silver – MRBC 58 Schlling; Scottish-Style Light, Heavy and Export
Montana Brewing Co.
Gold – MBC Wheat; Hefeweizen, Dark Hefeweizen
Gold – Happy Hour Hero; Ordinary Bitter
Gold – Hooligan’s Red Ale; American-Style Amber Ale
Gold – MBC Pale Ale; American-Style Pale Ale
Silver – Juice-Head Gorilla Imperial IPA; Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Bronze – Billing’s Blonde Ale; Belgian-Style Pale (Golden) Strong Ale
Bronze – White Eagle Baltic Porter; Baltic-Style Porter
Bronze – MBC Golden Ale; English-Style Summer Ale
Bronze – MBC Amber; English-Style Mild Ale
Gold – Reserve Ale; Kolsch
Silver – Helio Hefeweizen; Hefeweizen/Dark Hefeweizen
Silver – Red Lodge Porter; Robust Porter
Bronze – Glacier Ale; Altbier
- Matt Pritchard
I’m not sure why I haven’t posted about the Bayern Ecopack before, but a recent trip to the brewery managed to jog my memory about a pretty great program. Bayern Brewing has long been doing its best to help the environment and they’re still one of the only places in Missoula where you can recycle glass.
It used to be that you could drop off your clean Bayern bottles and they would recycle them for you. For the past several months now, they have a new program that involves the Bayern Ecopack. The Ecopack holds 24 qualifying bottles, with these qualifiers:
- Standard brown 12-oz. bottles
- Good condition: no cracks or chips, no cigarette butts or other garbage inside
- Pry-off: no twist off threads
- No embossing on the bottle (brand names, etc.)
For a $3 deposit, you can pick up an Ecopack and fill it with empty beer bottles that meet those standards. Then, are here’s the best part, you get a 5 cent refund for each bottle and a 10 cent refund for each full Ecopack you bring in. Bayern will give you another empty one or you can choose to get your deposit back if you want.
As you probably have seen, you can pick up an empty Ecopack at Bayern, Orange Street Food Farm, Good Food Store, Pattee Creek Market and Worden’s Market. But you can only drop off a full container at the brewery.
Pretty sweet deal if you like beer and the environment.
- Matt Pritchard