Recently, I decided to take my well-earned free time and limited coin down to the Blacksmith Brewery in Stevensville for a little “What’s on Tap?” investigatory “research.”
Over the two hours or so that I spent in that wonderful, vintage brick tasting room I had the chance to observe a good cross-section of the North Bitterroot citizenry.
There was the athletic couple who had just cycled in from Lolo; the old-timers reminiscing on the government bunglings of wildfires past; there were felt cowboy hats, young sweethearts and even an employee of the valley’s other brewery. There was (no big surprise on a Sunday afternoon) one bartendress.
There was also a sign on the wall for farm fresh eggs … only $3! While that was tempting, I instead opted for a selection of new and seasonal brews just to get a sense of what the modern Stevensvillian was drinking these days.
Hopper Hefeweizen – 6.0 %
Unfiltered with a mellow gold glow, the Hopper (surprise, surprise) is anything but hoppy. Sporting a rich malty, yeasty aroma, the first sniff brings to mind subtle visions of apricot and citrus. The flavor is full and satisfying with a texture that you can feel on your tongue. Stemming from the annual arrival of the summer grasshoppers (“The hoppers are out”) this brew has been on tap since the beginning of June.
Cuthroat IPA Nitro – 6.2 %
Cuthroat is the Blacksmith’s bread and butter IPA and one of their most popular beers; throwing it on a nitro tap offers some interesting and welcome diversity. For an IPA, this brew is extremely pale with a light wheatish yellow hue. With a slow-rising, delicate yet satisfying nitro head, this brew has a surprisingly subtle aroma compared with the usual Cuthroat. The usually robust flavor is somewhat downplayed by the smooth nitro texture but the aftertaste (BURP!) is quite pleasing.
Simcoe Pale Ale – 6.2%
Noticeably dark for a pale, this beer (the brewery’s newest offering) has a copper/sunsetty appearance. The aroma is striking; floral with a strong vanilla presence and the first sip is almost exotic with that same floral character with an excellent hoppy sustain. Robust, the aftertaste almost pushes itself out through the nostrils. This is a proud Blacksmith brew with the same underlying tones that I find in the Brickhouse Blonde among other Blacksmith staples. Very intriguing.
Blacksmith IRA – 7.4 %
Hold on to your hops, friends, because this Imperial Red Ale is strong and persuasive. Dark red with a slight yeasty haze the aroma is deceptively mild though hoppy and fully indicative of the beer’s flavor. The flavor is quite wonderful with a strong malty opening and a quick hoppy zing that rolls from the tip of the tongue to the back and settles nicely, lingering in the back of the mouth and into the throat. This would be a great beer to start off a Friday evening session.
Also on Tap at The Blacksmith
- Brickhouse Blonde
- Montana Amber
- Pulaski Porter
All great beers and worth a trip down the Bitterroot, but in the words of the great Lavar Burton, “Don’t take my word for it …” go taste ‘em yourself! Cheers!
Worden’s Market has two new beers that’d be worth checking out. I haven’t tried either yet, but my buddy told me the Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewing Company is a really drinkable pale with some good body and a decent hop note. Here’s the description from Worden’t website via Deschute Brewing Company.
It has a plush body with satiny caramel flavors derived from seven varieties of malt. Yet, despite it all, it remains a hop-forward ale with that distinctive citrusy punch. Just minus any mouth-puckering bitterness.
And the second looks like a contender for your Saturday Breakfast Beer. Here’s what Worden’s says about the Noir De Dottignies from Brouwerij De Ranke:
The heaviest ale on our menu with a very rich taste, coming from the six different kinds of malt we use. These malts also give it that rich, dark, nearly black colour. The royal doses of Challenger and Saaz hops bring the typical balance between sweet and bitter.
Pick up a few bottles of each and let me know what you think of them. I’ll be enjoying the Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale tonight.