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
Think you’re an expert on beer? Well, if you want to prove it you can sign up for the Cicerone Certification test at Hawthorne Suites in Missoula on Dec. 7.
The exam tests your knowledge of retail beer storage, modern beers and styles, flawed beers, beer ingredient, the brewing process, beer pairings for common foods and more. Cost is $345. In order be seated for the Cicerone Certification test you must have passed the Certified Beer Server exam in the past three years and have had at least one year of experience selling or serving beer.
In the wine world, the word “sommelier” designates those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving fine wine. Lately some beer servers have adopted the title “beer sommelier” to tie into the credibility of the wine world. But anyone can call themselves a beer sommelier regardless of knowledge or experience. And while some will be highly skilled, the only way to demonstrate that objectively is through independent testing of knowledge and tasting ability. The Cicerone Certification Program offers that independent assessment and certification so that industry professionals — as well as consumers — can be sure of the knowledge and skills possessed by current and prospective beer servers.
If you’re working in the industry, having this couldn’t hurt.
- Matt Pritchard
Here’s a trailer for the upcoming documentary “Beer Culture,” which is set in Colorado and due out this summer. The film “explains the cultural phenomenon behind the growth of craft beer, telling it through the stories of struggles and successes of some top brewers in Colorado, including New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Avery Brewing Company, Tommyknocker, Upslope” and others.
Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, will sponsor several bills related to the Montana craft-beer industry in the upcoming Legislature, which convenes on Jan. 3.
The first is a proposal to shift the hours that taprooms are allowed to be open from the current 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to noon-10 p.m. The Montana Brewers Association has a petition up on its website that has gathered more than 650 signatures in the past month. Tony Herbert, executive director of the Montana Brewers Association, stresses that this is a shift in hours, not an expansion of hours. Zinke, in a telephone call, said that historically there has been hesitation by the Tavern Association on the issue because members have a hefty investment in their businesses and don’t want to see others cut into it. But the senator points out that breweries have a different business model and they, too, have a large investment. This shift in hours will only help Montana businesses, he said.
The second piece of legislation is in regards to filling growlers at taverns that hold all-beverage licenses. Bill Schneider of NewWest.net wrote a detailed article on the issue in September. Basically, according the article, the Montana Department of Revenue last April sent out a memo to tavern owners about a proposed rule to clarify a law about serving alcohol for off-site consumption. The plan, as it was worded, would make it illegal for taverns with all-beverage licenses to fill growlers. After the proposal was sent out, brewers asked Herbert to step in and the Department of Revenue agreed to drop the rule and let the 2011 Legislature sort it out. Zinke’s bill looks to clear up any legal gray areas so places such as The Rhino in Missoula can continue to fill growlers with no problems.
Finally a third bill, which is still in the works, looks to promote out-of-state sales of craft beer with the Made in Montana Brewery Act. Hopes are it could lift some restrictions on the amount of beer breweries are allowed to sell outside Montana, while still being able to serve pints in their taprooms. Zinke said the legislation would help expand the industry, create more jobs and allow brewers to use more local materials.
“My vision is creating world-class local and regional beers that are made in Montana using Montana ingredients,” Zinke said in an e-mail. “In the world of political fighting and gridlock, who could be against better beer? Even Ben Franklin recognized that good beer makes good policy.”
These bills are still being prepared, so they could be changed as they work their way through the legislative process.
- Matt Pritchard
Here’s a story from Anne Creighton of the News-Review in Roseberg, Ore., on Tom Johnson, head brewer at Roseburg Station Pub and Brewery, which is part of the McMenamins chain in Oregon and Washington. Johnson, who went to the University of Oregon to study finance in the ’80s, decided he needed to take a different career path so he followed his love of brewing. It’s always nice to someone who follows their passion and succeeds, especially when beer is involved. Enjoy.
ROSEBURG, Ore. – When Tom Johnson starting brewing beer on the kitchen stove at his Eugene home in the ’80s, the University of Oregon finance major never thought he would end up working for one of the top craft breweries in the United States.
“I was never really big on wearing a suit and tie to work,” Johnson said. “My first attempt at beer was good enough, so I decided to stick with it and try some different recipes.”
Johnson, 48, is now 10 years into his career as head brewer at Roseburg Station Pub and Brewery, one of nearly 60 McMenamins brew pubs in the Northwest. Along with making the chain’s standard ales, he also concocts his own specialty brews using ingredients such as locally grown Asian pears or McMenamins coffee, giving them names such as Spearhead Molly, Pull Up Your Shwartz and Arrogant Beaver.
“Sometimes a name will just pop into my head, and I think, ‘Oh, that’s a great name for a beer. I should try and make a beer to fit that name,’ ” he said.
Roseburg pub manager Lisa Brannon, who has worked for the company for five years, says she has tried beer from many of the other brew pubs, but their pints just don’t compare to Tom’s.
“I think brewing beer is an art form, like painting a picture,” Brannon said. “Two different artists can paint the same picture, but they perceive it completely different, and I think that’s what Tom does with beer. He just has something amazing.”
Johnson said his road to employment wasn’t an easy one. He spent six years trying to find steady work in the industry. After earning a master brewer’s certificate from the University of California at Davis in 1995, Johnson job shadowed several Eugene brewers, hoping he would stumble across a job.
He eventually got a one-day-a-week gig in Corvallis for Oregon Trail Brewery, but Johnson said the cost of commuting was more than his paycheck. “I was just about ready to give up and become a FedEx driver,” he said, laughing.
One of the contacts he had made during his job search called him one morning with an opportunity. “He told me the McMenamins in Roseburg might be looking for a brewer, so I gave it a shot,” he said, and “the rest is history.”
Over the years, Johnson has won several awards for his home-brews, including a blue ribbon at the Oregon State Fair for his blackberry porter and a Best In Show award at the Douglas County Fair for a steam beer, a highly effervescent ale.
Johnson said he sometimes thinks about starting his own brewery, but doesn’t know if it’s something he wants to tackle at this stage in his life.
“Maybe if I ever happened into a lot of money, but it’s an incredible undertaking, and I would be working seven days a week until it got off the ground.
“I enjoy working at a small pub where I can get to know all the people who come in, and I think I have pretty good job security here,” he said, knocking on the wood dining table.
Brannon attributes the pub’s loyal patronage to the beer that Johnson brews. “This McMenamins has had its ups and downs, but Tom’s beer is what has kept those people coming back,” she said.
Roseburg resident Matt Fortune said he has frequented the Roseburg McMenamins since it opened in 1999 and keeps coming back for the beer. “Tom’s beers are great,” he said, sipping a pint of the Arrogant Beaver. “It’s just good quality.“
Michael Widman of Glide, another 11-year patron, said he’s had several conversations with Tom throughout the years in the pub. “He’s the most humble person. He lets the beer speak for himself.”
- Matt Pritchard
Great example of how trade mail craft beer can be an effective way of trying craft beers from around the country (or world) that you might not normally find in your neck of the woods. For me it was helpful to see what other beers are available out there and how cool some people who participate in beer trade can be.