Kettlehouse Brewing Co. will have a firkin of Huckleberry Cold Smoke at the Rhino on the night of Oct. 5, a day before the 4th annual Montana Brewers Festival at Caras Park. I tried the Cold Smoke infused with cherries that was available at the south Kettle a few weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised, so I can only imagine that huckleberries and Cold Smoke will be, well, sweet.
- Matt Pritchard
I usually shy away from beer infused with any fruit puree, but I’m really glad I didn’t shy away from this one.
New Belgium’s Tart Lychee is an American Wild Ale that is part of the brewery’s Lips of Faith series. It’s been around for a few years, but this is the first time I’ve tried it. The beer is made with a combination of New Belgium’s barrel-aged sour beer, cinnamon sticks and lychee fruit, which is native to southeast Asia and, at least from what the Internet says, tastes kind of like a really sweet grape.
I had a pint recently at the Rhino and then bought a bottle at the Good Food Store. The beer is sweet and sour, to me it tastes a little bit like carbonated white grape juice, but it’s tart like lemonade. New Belgium describes it as “very fruity with earthy, nutty undertones. Both sour and sweet combined!” The beer is refreshing and clean and would be great on any of these hot days we’ve had in Missoula recently.
- Matt Pritchard
It’s technically spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. So while we wait for the weather to warm up, hopefully sometime before July, Bitter Root Brewing has something to tide us over – the 2011 release of Huckleberry Honey Ale in bottles. Here’s a line from the latest newsletter:
Our first batch of Huckleberry Honey Ale is now in bottles! Nearly this entire batch is being delivered to fine grocers and off premise retailers near you, in bottles, next week
- Matt Pritchard
That is a great question actually. I don’t have any overriding love of figs, per se, but I’ve found that I enjoy beers brewed with figs for some reason.
After a day of plundering the anime video section at Hastings in Missoula, my brother-in-law, who is visiting along with my sister and their one-year-old boy, and I decided to pop over to Cafe Dolce to see what beer treasures are currently available.
He joked about a $9.75 beer and the fact that I write about these ridiculously expensive beers for the local newspaper. The server kindly explained that the beer came in a larger bottle then he was probably thinking of.
So I ordered one.
It happened to be a Jubilation Ale from Baird Brewing Company in Japan. I’ve tried one Baird before, and I was impressed enough to remember that they brew a number of interesting fruit ales throughout the year. This particular ale happens to be brewed with fresh-picked Japanese figs and cinnamon twigs.
As we delved into conversation about why I like figs, I smelled the rich and hazy nose familiar of a strong-dark ale with a lot of dark fruits and getup malt in the mix. But this beer drinks remarkably light for a beer with a 7.0 ABV and which is plum full of interesting fruit esters and a hint of exotic spice from the cinnamon twigs.
Neither the figs nor the cinnamon twigs are overplayed in this beer. Instead, the initial sweetness and earthiness of the figs sits nicely on a sweet malt body accompanied by very balanced hoppy note that does not even begin to take away from the fruitiness.
As our conversation wended its way among topics such as my age and the obvious connection to figs and other such prune-like helpers of the old and the infirm to Japanese craft brewing, we quietly polished off the bottle in the delightfully big atmosphere at Cafe Dolce. We perused the beer list several times talking about what to try next, but both of us were pretty stuck on a fantastic beer that just so happened to be brewed with figs and cinnamon twigs.
The beauty of things like Twitter and Facebook is that it makes real people more accessible. I met Buckbean Brewing Company, of Reno, Nevada, through Twitter. And I’m absolutely stoked about getting my hands on some of their beer.
The first of the three I received looked like a tall boy of Fanta with its nearly solid orange motif. But it was a good harbinger of things to come. The nose on this beer is so big it actually serves as an air freshener if cracked open in the right place.
Orange citrus just rolls off this one and gives one the expectation that the beer might indeed be orange pop. Alas, it is not. It’s a fairly well balanced light ale that holds the orange flavor in a lightly malt-oriented body with some hop crispness that plays rather well with the orange aroma.
The beer pours up a sunburst color with an off-white head, and some of the hidden beer flavors really come out to play when this beer is allowed to warm up slightly.
The best part about this beer is that my wife really enjoyed the refreshing aspect of it. She thought this one would definitely be worth throwing in the cooler for those summer river trips or even for making one of those yard-work summer shandies.
Cherry beers seem to show up like blossoms on the Flathead this time of year, and so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one to enjoy on V-Day. Big Sky Brewing Co.’s new Kreik (cherry) is a whopper of a fruit beer, with amazing cherry, cocoa and wood characteristics that I guarantee your significant other will appreciate.
Chocolate beers are a dime-a-dozen, but a really nice Venezuelan single-designation dark chocolate with a bottle of Rogue Brewing Co.’s Chocolate Stout might be the perfect after-dinner treat you’ll find.
And if you’re really sappy and want to do the whole “romance” thing right, you can always head down to Bitterroot Brewing. Here’s what they have planned:
Lady and the Tramp Valentine’s Dinner
Treat your loved one…and yourself to a Lady and the Tramp spaghetti and meatball dinner for two. House made spaghetti with two freshly made LARGE meatballs, garlic toast and Caesar salad. Sorry, no violins!
What other craft-beer related events are going on out there? And what are some great craft beer ideas for him or her? Let me know, I’ll post them.