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
Drinking beer is fun. Feeling terrible after drinking too much on New Year’s Eve isn’t.
Lifehacker.com has a guide that puts hangover cures and myths to the test, basically what works and what doesn’t. The bottom line to the article is: eat and drink water, lots of water. Sounds like common sense, but how many times have you forgotten these simple steps?
And since it is almost New Year’s and many out there will be having fun, remember to plan ahead and leave the car at home. There will be increased DUI patrols around Missoula, not the way to start 2012. On that note, here are some of the cab services available around town:
Yellow Cab: (406) 728-8294
Green Taxi: (406) 543-6644
UCallus: (406) 880-01673. A free cab service, but they do accept donations.
Happy New Year.
- Matt Pritchard
Just got word from Sandy Clare, owner of Flathead Lake Brewing Co. of Missoula, on the new pub house’s opening. They had originally planned to start serving beer next week, but are now looking at opening the week of Nov. 15. The pub (they’re just serving beer, not making it) is located on the second floor of 424 N. Higgins above the new restaurant Sapore.
As far as beer selection goes, Clare says:
I will be featuring all of FLBC’s beers at my place plus four more. I have been lucky to get Carters and Montana Brewing Company to send over some beer. So, we will get some great “eastern” Montana beer into Missoula.
The pub will also feature food made with Flathead Lake Brewing ales, 4 HDTVs for sports fans and music on the weekends.
Sounds like the place for me, see you there.
- Matt Pritchard
Bayern Brewing looks to be doing some cool things with their Face Plant beer. I think this sounds like a great birthday trip.
The Face Plant ski/board with Bayern schedule is beginning. Starting January 16th there will be an all day event at Silver Mountain in Idaho. There will be a bus with Face Plant on it going from Missoula to Silver. The cost will be $59 for a bus ticket, subway breakfest, lift ticket and 2 Face Plants.You can upload pic…tures and videos to Silver Mountains website for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd “Best Face Plant” prizes http://www.silvermt.com/site_Global/Global.aspx?page=GL-Event-Calendar. Contact our facebook page for questions or comments.
Not sure of all the details here, but there is a Moose Drool run at Sleeping Giant ski resort down by Yellowstone National Park. Since Montana has the greatest beer names in the country, why not have ski runs named after beers, right? It runs from Far West to Dawdler near the Sheapeater chair.
I don’t like making lists. Someone inevitably gets left off and then pissed off at me. But, I know some of you really like lists, so I’m going to round out the top local beers of 2008. I may or may not get around to doing my favorite beers anywhere list, so enjoy this one.
In no particular order:
Big Sky Brewing Co. Biere de Noel: I grabbed three or four bottles of this year’s Biere de Noel to take home for the holidays. It was a huge hit last year, so I figured I’d make everyone happy once more. Huge aroma of vanilla, spice, dark chocolate and dried fruit. This beer is so amazingly complex it offers something new an almost every sip. Once warmed, Biere de Noel explodes into rich red wine territory with hints of tobacco, leather and black fruit on the nose and intense vanilla vodka on the palate. With a mouthfeel like warmed brandy, Biere de Noel consumed slowly over the course of a long winter’s evening, can increase the size of a Grinch’s heart three sizes.
Bitter Root Brewing Co. Saison:
Watching many Montana brewers put out batches of this famous French farmhouse ale, I thought it would be fun to compare one against the others. But, being the hardened professionals they are, our brewers outdid themselves in their own right. Not much to compare here, just several great takes on this classic brew. I grabbed a growler of Bitter Root Brewing’s saison to taste at home on a warm August day. The earthiness of the beer comes right off the nose, as does a pleasant grassy smell. It’s not fresh-cut lawn exactly but like when you walk out into a meadow after the sun has warmed the dew. The bready yeastiness of this beer was so good with Asian food and even lighter fare like salads.
Flathead Lake Brewing Co. ROY’S Imperial India Pale Ale:
This is imperial IPA the way imperial IPA should be. Big, over-the-top hops and alcohol meeting in a malty medium of balanced goodness. Fig, dark berries, dried peach and green herbs are evident in the nose, and the mouthfeel is of a serious nature given the high gravity of this beer.
Kettlehouse Brewing Co. Sports Recovery Beer:
The reason I’m picking this beer had to do with the fact that the brewers took time out to consider what kind of beer might fit well with the lifestyle here in Missoula. A light, caffeinated beer with hints of ginseng is a perfect idea for the outdoor-minded community that inhabits this fair valley. Nothing is overdone on this beer, and one feels they can drink a pint shortly after a run, hike or bike without the side-splitting affects of consuming a heavier beer. Kudos to the Kettlehouse crew for pushing the boundaries and keeping beer fun.
Great Northern Brewing Co. Highlander:
While not even closely resembling its noble ancestor, Highlander beer has returned to Western Montana in the form of a scotch-style ale brewed by Great Northern Brewing Co. in Whitefish. This malty dog with hints of smoke and a velvet mouthfeel has become a popular talking point for the folks who still remember when the fabled red and white cans still were available in Missoula and the college crowds alike.
Glacier Brewing Co. Autumn Ale:
I don’t like smoked beers. Might have something to do with ordering a pint of Rogue Ales smoked porter several years ago to find the beer tasted just like smoked salmon. Makes me gag just to think about it. But in the last few years I’ve grown to appreciate the fact that brewers have toned down the smoke for better balance. And so I’ve resumed tasting them. A big one still can take me back to Newport Bay, but a great one can be some of the best food beer on the planet. Glacier’s version has the intense flavor of smoked peat, but the smokiness has a woodsy characteristic more like a Laphroaig scotch. The malt dances on your tongue with the smokiness from spotfires of roasted grains spread out with a silky smooth mouthfeel.
Tamarack Brewing Co. Old Stache Porter:
I didn’t try this beer. But everything I’ve heard about it has led me to add it to this year’s top list. Apparently, this popular whisky barrel aged porter was a hit with skiers and boarders returning from Blacktail Mountain as well as locals and tourists alike. Which is why I didn’t get to try any. Craig, you better save some for me this year.
Happy New Year,
People always ask me for lists. Favorite IPAs, favorite Montana beer, favorite beer in the world.
I’m a journalist, I haven’t tried everything yet; therefore I must remain objective. At least until I’ve tried everything.
But, I’m going camping in Yellowstone National Park for a week, so I’ve thought long and hard about what I’m going to bring for beer, and I think I’ve formulated a bit of a list.
Portability is a must. Glass bottles, while great at home because I recycle them for homebrews, are not great while camping. Cans are a much better way to go.
Now that we’ve established the mode of transportation, we have to figure out which beer to fill it with. Temperatures in the park are supposed to be in the mid 60s to mid 70s. Not too bad, in fact, that’s great camping weather. So I want a beer with some taste and heft to it. I don’t need something super light, because it’s not going to be super hot.
A pig of Doublehaul from Kettlehouse would be perfect, but you’ve got as much chance of getting that as you’ve got of getting a trip down the Colorado River this year.
So, instead, a pig of Eddy Out Pale Ale will do, and we’ll grab cans of Doublehaul for when we’re hiding from the late-afternoon thunder showers.
A pig of Hellgate Honey Hefeweizen will be a great backup beer for those periods of warmer weather. My wife will appreciate this as well. I should tell you that we are not the only two consuming this beer. We have friends up from Oregon, and we advocate fun and safe camping experiences, especially when it comes to alcohol.
A few cans of Old Chub from Oskar Blues will make for some good evening sippin’ beers, while a six-pack of Dale’s Pale Ale will keep those thirst buds in check if the evenings are warmer.
Camping beer is all about the weather. The warmer the weather, the lighter and drier the beer will satisfy you. Cooler weather might give you a thirst for something a little bigger. But any car camping can really be an opportunity to grab some great beers and sip them in the comfort of a pleasant flame from your fire pit.
Cans of beer are easier to transport in and out, but if your in a car, you can bring what you like.
Here is a list of my top five camping beers regardless of weather:
4. Caldera IPA
Yes, they are all canned beers. But they are good beers, and I’m all about the adventure without the impact.
You’ll likely not hear from me for a week. I hope that’s OK. Even beer bloggers need a break. Or at least my wife does. Please check in next weekend for an update on Betty’s for Beer and a recap of some of my adventures in Yellowstone. Don’t stop coming back. We’ll be back soon.
Let’s face it, we live in a place where recreation rules year round. I’ve only come to appreciate that lately with several back to back snowboarding days at Snowbowl. This from a guy who hadn’t participated in that sport since his first child was born nine-years-ago.
And when you recreate, you want to share that joy with others in the form of socializing, which often means greatly exaggerating your accomplishments while swinging a pint glass around, i.e., “That fish was THIS big,” (slosh, slosh) or “We did 22 miles in six hours in four-inches of snow.” (slosh, slosh)
But a co-worker pointed me toward something that combines beer and recreation in a way that is truly inspiring.
Montana doesn’t have the population to have very many record holders in the high-brow sporting events of the world, though I’d say we have our fair share and more due to the rugged nature of the citizenry here.
I’d like to introduce (those of you who don’t already know about it) you to the Beermile.
This illustrious and historical feat is the pursuit of the best time running a mile while consuming four beers, one each quarter mile. (puking is penalized)
Turns out Missoula’s own Zach Strong ranks #34 on the Beermile.com all time record holders’ list for this event. Wow, way to go Zach. He accomplished the feat at the 2006 Western Montucky Beermile Championship held on a dirt track near the Clark Fork River. His time: An envious 6:04 while drinking Budweiser from a can. In addition to this prestigious ranking, Strong holds the ranking of #16 Performance by a male athlete, #8 official 2006 performance and #1 official state of Montana performance. Check all his stats here.
The thing I love about this is that it is far from just a college-level drinking game. The Beermile is undertaken, and not lightly, by very accomplished athletes. Strong is a very competitive runner who is taking up the ultramarathon as his next challenge.
I’m assuming that the consumption of Budweiser or PBR while running is for the purpose of not wasting good micro brew as vomit on the track, but I’ve heard of people trying to break the record while drinking four Kettlehouse Double Hauls. That would be quite a feat.
To all who’ve tried and conquered the Beermile, we salute you.