Imagine Missoula and Big Sky Brewing are gearing up to release the latest version of All Souls Ale, the 2012 Christmas Edition. All profits from the limited-edition brew go toward Imagine Missoula, a nonprofit “working to make Missoula better than it already is.”
If it seems like the last version was only released a few months ago, well, you’re right. Because of a brewing issue last year, Big Sky made the 2012 All Souls Easter Edition, a Dark Tripel, in April and now has the 2012 All Souls Christmas Edition ready for release. This version is again an Imperial Saison, like the original, punching in at about 11 percent alcohol by volume.
There are only 100 cases up for grabs, although at least 26 cases have already been sold. The 750 ml bottles sell for $14, half-cases go for $84 and cases for $168. If you want to place an order, call Nina Alviar at (406) 546-4697.
The release party is Friday, Dec. 7, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Big Sky taproom. There will be food, music by Tom Catmull and the Clerics and, of course, beer. They ask that you RSVP if you’re interested.
Can’t make it? Don’t fret. The beer will also be on tap at Big Sky after Dec. 7.
- Matt Pritchard
I’ve been looking forward to what would have been the 2011 version of All Souls Ale from Big Sky Brewing – especially after having a few glasses of the first batch over the past few weeks – and it looks like I’ll have to wait a bit longer. A friend told me Big Sky ran into trouble with the latest batch (supposedly issues with carbonation), and indeed the release date has been changed to April. On the bright side, in addition to April, Big Sky is on track to release the beer in 750 ml bottles again in December.
- Matt Pritchard
Imagine Missoula, a nonprofit associated with the All Souls Missoula church group, has joined with Big Sky Brewing Co. to create and bottle All Souls Ale, a limited-edition Imperial Saison. Profits from the beer go to Imagine Missoula, which aims to help meet people’s needs through arts and community-building. A release party will be held on Sunday, Dec. 5, from 4-8 p.m. at Big Sky Brewing with food, beer and music by Tom Catmull and Wise River Mercantile. If you’re thinking about attending, they ask that you RSVP.
- Matt Pritchard
UPDATE: If you can’t make it to the release but want to try All Souls Ale, it will be available in the Big Sky Brewing taproom beginning Monday, Dec. 6., while supplies last.
It’s rather fitting in Montana, actually. Big Sky Brewing Company’s Elephant Rock Imperial Saison is a Big Saison, and summer is a big season for people who’ve been limited by the cold and snow of winter. And just like everyone I know who goes big in summer, whether squeezing in 20 mile backpack trips into a weekend or climbing a multi pitch 5.11c. after work on Friday, Elephant Rock Imperial Saison goes big too. Really big in fact.
Head brewer Matt Long tells me it’s so big he’d like to put it in 750 ml bottles, but being on a summer brewing schedule, they just don’t have time. So it’s on tap out at the brewery, and I’m gonna guess you’ll be able to pick it up at places like Red Bird and possibly Cafe Dolce. Matt also tells me it’s brewed using the same yeast they used in their 406 Series saison that was out a few months ago. But this one packs a serious punch with an ABV around 11 percent. “It’s dangerous,” Long said. And he means it. A growler split between four friends was more than enough to satisfy this last weekend.
The overwhelming characteristic noticeable in this saison is the yeast characteristics. A hay like earthiness is evident with a lot of fruitiness, especially tropical dried fruits like mango and pineapple. The body is big, and the alcohol is nicely balanced with a decent malt profile that manages to not be too heavy. This light-looking beer is deceivingly light, but that alcohol packs a wallop if you don’t expect it. It will literally sneak up on you. Matt tells me it’s fermented down to 1 % residual sugar, so it finished dry, which adds to the notion that this is a much lighter beer than it is. So drink carefully.
The beer is named for Elephant Rock near Drummond.
You can find this one at the tap room, and it’s a premium fill at $10 with one taste available to patrons.
And I mean that literally. I think this Kettlehouse Brewing Company take on a classic beer could be put in a barrel for a few years and come out aged like a fine wine. It’s so big and bold and with a huge ABV of 10 plus, that it should hold up beautifully to the aging process. It’s definitely an interesting beer now and worth popping in for one. I gotta warn you, if you plan to have more than one beer, don’t start with the saison. It’s so big, that it will be the only thing you taste all evening.
I love the big, grassy taste and biscuit flavors on the malt along with that slightly barnyard classic saison yeast characteristic in this beer. They’re big enough to stand up to the high ABV and provide their own statement on the beer.
There is a mid level astringency that comes through as either alcohol heat or perhaps something from the grains, which is why I think this beer is a perfect beer for aging. That astringency will completely disappear with time. Or it should. Much like the expansive Brick & Mortar Imperial Porter, the saison is a fun beer to drink in a snifter. Powerful green and grainy smells will fill your nose, and this is not a completely quaffable beer in the sense that you’d kill two or three in a session. No, this beer deserves serious consideration and some time along with you, the drinker.
I for one am looking forward to enjoying some of this beer next year and perhaps the year after that.
If you live in Western Montana, spring can be a long time coming. That’s if it’s not an El Nino year and the bizarro weather patterns that produce trees full of dead leaves in February and 60-degree, blue bird days in March, do not throw a kink into the rotation. You might find yourself tiring of the heavy stouts, porters, Scotch-style ales and other big beers of winter as you do the deep snow drifts, river icebergs and sub-zero temperatures of bygone winters.
And if that should happen to be you, you might find yourself looking forward to something crisp and floral, like fragrant flowers or a newly mowed lawn.
The good news is that spring seems to have sprung in the west, where very mild temperatures cause one to almost forget that last year’s winter seemed to extend into late May.
And to go along with the great weather, western breweries seem to be suffering a bout of El Nino madness as well. I mean who can believe that Big Sky Brewing Company would release Summer Honey in February.
Without further delay, because who knows when this El Nino thing ends for sure, I’ll introduce a few spring-ish beers for your tasting pleasure.
1. In the big-producer categories, we have Full Sail Brewing Company’s new Hop Pursuit. I’ve not tried it yet, but it claims to be 55 IBUs and is brewed using Cascade, Willamette and Mt. Hood hops. It’s reportedly dry hopped for two weeks.
2. Another big producer is Big Sky Brewing Company and their upcoming Saison, to be released April 1. Big Sky brewed a Saison a year or two ago, so I’ll be excited to see how similar or different this one turns out. The best part is this beer will be available in bottles in Missoula only.
3. White Rabbits Hoppy Tripel from Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project in Massachusetts. I know we can’t get this beer in Montana, but I had to include it, because fluffy white rabbits remind me of spring. And I’m just really impressed with this brewery and almost anything they do. (Anyone in Mass. want to do a beer trade?)
There are a lot of great spring seasonal beers hitting your local brew pubs in the next few weeks. Holler when find something good, and I’ll stick your review on the blog.
Unless this is the queen mother of all April Fools jokes, Big Sky Brewing Company is reportedly going to offer limited release beers in what they’re calling the 406 Series. And to make everything just awesome, the first beer will be a Saison – Belgian Farmhouse Ale. These 406 Series beers will be rotating specialties in bottles and on draft only in Missoula.
This will make a couple Missoulian reporters very happy.
The pub crawl starts at 5PM at Charlie B’s then goes to Sean Kelly’s, The Old Post and ends at The Iron Horse.
My wife talked me in to taking a late-afternoon yoga class at the YMCA today, after which we planned on a good, healthy dinner, a movie and then a good night sleep before Monday madness.
Yoga went reasonably well. I held a decent number of positions and was able to keep from farting in public, which is always a worry when you’re contorting your body into those strange poses.
On the way home, we stopped in to a grocery store for a few need items and a bottle of wine for dinner. Dressed in Adidas outfits and looking very Run DMC, the clerk asked us both for our identification to prove our age. My wife neglected to bring her ID into the store, and my arguments about who is purchasing the alcohol went unnoticed. I left angry, as I always do when screwed over by a clerk who does not respect state law but follows blindly the store policy, which flaunts its authority over common sense. Would you indeed card my 11-year-old if he were in line with me instead of my 36-year-old wife.
But I digress.
Upon arriving home, we cooked up a salmon fillet given to us by some dear friends who went to run the food stores for the scientists in Antarctica during the summer down there. We also braised some Brussels sprouts in butter and sauteed some spinach in olive oil and red pepper flakes.
On a whim, and because we didn’t have any wine, I decided to open a bottle of Two Moon Saison from Montana Brewing Co. with salmon I normally prefer wine, either pinot noir or pinot gris, but saison has taken a huge step forward as of tonight.
Something about the beauty of salmon, Brussels sprouts and copious amounts of butter, but the hops and farminess of saison seemed to produce amazing responses from those who matter most. My wife. The kids liked the dish sans saison.
It was the vegetal taste of the saison that paired so wonderfully with the braised Brussels sprouts and the sweet and sour of the huckleberry sauce. With just a hint of lemon in the huckleberry sauce, the yeast in the saison was fully revealed with fruity and barnyard characteristics.
Two of my favorite reporters absolutely love saison, and I can’t blame them. It might be one of the most food-forward beers on the market along with a Belgian tripel.
Paired with fish and anything soaked in butter, you can’t go wrong. Absolutely amazing.
Montana Brewing Co.’s Two Moon saison is not available in Missoula, but you can get several really good saisons at The Good Food Store and at Worden’s Market.