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
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
Growlers have been a staple in Montana for years. And as for the images of women with strollers lined up to get his and hers filled, well, try this one on for size. Mom and dad, decked out in running gear, have just returned from a 20-mile-run. They pile up to the bar at the Kettlehouse Brewing Co. southside and order a pint while Al fills their four growlers. The kids sip on Kettlehouse root beer. And this picture has been going on a lot longer than it has in New York.
As far as sophistication goes, Montana is pretty far along that golden pathway already. Many younger family members enjoy grabbing a few growlers for home, instead of hanging out at local bars for hours and hours. It’s almost customary to just bring a growler of beer when you go to someone’s house for dinner her. Almost as much as bringing a bottle of wine. It’s almost as if people don’t even have to ask, they just hand it to you at the door when they walk in.
Growler culture is a great thing, because it promotes fresh, local beer enjoyed at the peak of its perfection. And this promotes a healthy awareness of where the beer came from. Take a look at the costs, both financial and ecological, of shipping beer, and you’ll see why growlers are such a great idea.