I finally made it into the Northside Kettlehouse to check out their Barrel Aged Cold Smoke, and I’m sure glad I did.
It took a year of aging in bourbon barrels before the beer made it to tap, and the result is a 9 percent alcohol by volume Cold Smoke that has the sting of bourbon but finishes smooth like the scotch ale you know and love, with hints of black liquorice and chocolate.
Usually I’m more of a Double Haul guy, so you’ll rarely see me ordering a Cold Smoke, but this beer is definitely worth a try no matter which you prefer. There’s about two barrels (four kegs) of it left and it’s going fast, so don’t dawdle if your interested.
- Matt Pritchard
Like when there is a foot of snow on your grill in mid-January for instance.
Luckily, there are some other really great food/beer combos out there. And if you’re a vegetarian, well, there are options there too.
Last night I stopped off at Big Sky Brwewing Co. to catchup with all the latest tap room gossip and to try a bit of the Stone Thrower Scotch Ales. Generally I’m not a big consumer of Scotch-style beers, but when it comes to food, especially spicy food, I find them to be some of the best companions.
In the tap room, the beer came wafting out of the glass with big bready aromas not unlike freshly baked biscuits. And the balance of sweet malt with just a hint of hop to contain it was superb. But that slightly heavy body and the mellow sweetness along with hints of caramel and nuts started me thinking about something spicy for dinner.
I picked up a growler of the beer and cruised home to search the fridge and freezer for possibilities. In the end, I settled on a spicy pork chop along with a chickpea recipe from my days as a vegbian.
The chickpeas are made by stir-frying onions in ginger and red peppers and adding chopped tomatoes and eventually chickpeas and letting is simmer until the flavors meld. It’s one of our family favorites. The pork chops were rubbed in a spicy combo of red and black peppers with just a hint of sriracha Rooster Sauce and broiled.
For the heat on each bite, I’d take a sip of the beer, and the flavors would fold into one another revealing some really great tastes before flickering and fading into the sweetness of the beer. It’s kind of the same principle with some of the sweeter wines, but if you have spicy food, the heat will give way to the residual sugars and malty sweetness, but you want a nice balance and taste experience before that happens.
Pick up some Stone Thrower Scotch Ale while it’s on tap at Big Sky, and try it with some of your favorite spicy meals. It goes great with Mexican, Thai and other well-known spicy cuisines.
Hey all, time for more Stone Thrower Scotch Ale at Big Sky Brewing Co. Head over to the tap room for a sample and a growler.
Here’s the word from our neighbor to the north.
WOO HOO!!! The Centennial Scottish Ale is FLOWING!! This smoky ale is tapped with a VERY low carbonation level. We thought it might be interesting to present a beer that might be similar to a beer served 100 years ago when force-carbonated beers were starting to sweep the land! ENJOY IT!
Get yourself some.
Cool news out of Polson:
Glacier Brewing Company TAPPING PARTY!!!!
This Wednesday we are tapping our CENTENNIAL SCOTTISH ALE in honor of Polson’s 100-year birthday and in honor of Polson’s Scottish founder, David Polson!
This is a smokey, Scottish ale with a little higher alcohol than most of our beers which means it will probably go VERY quick!
Pints – $4.50
NO GROWLER FILLS PLEASE!
The local brewers hold a competition that is judged by brewers at Big Sky. The winner gets to brew 300 gallons of the winning batch that are then sold at the brewery’s taproom. The proceeds go to a charity of the homebrew club’s choice.
The winner of this year’s Community Brew is an awesome Scotch-style ale called Hurruh, pronounced Who-Roo or something like that.
This peat-smoked heavy ale is so balanced you’d never know (until it’s too late) it carries a 7.7 ABV, and the smoky layer under the malts is like a silky afterthought on this beer. I can’t imagine it will last long once people get a taste of it.
But that’s a good thing for the Missoula Food Bank, this year’s recipient of the proceeds from the winning brew.
Congratulations to Jasper for winning this year’s Community Brew and congratulations to the Missoula Food Bank for all their hard work in the community.
It’s always fun to walk into the tap room at Big Sky Brewing Co. and find something new. Since we had a nice corned beef and cabbage in the crock pot, the wife, the daughter and I cruised over to Big Sky on St. Patrick’s Day for a little sample.
Here’s what we had first:
The Stone Thrower is a Scotch-style ale that is tantalizingly malty and sweet, more in actual Scotch-beer character than other American contemporaries. I’m not sure who brewed this beauty, but I know head brewer Matt Long likes some of the traditional Scotch-style beers like the house ale at Traquair House Brewery. Big Sky’s version has a slight amontillado sherry character, which reminds me of the house ale in many ways. And it’s a big hit with the spousal unit, who generally prefers Summer Honey once it comes back around.
The second beer we tried:
The Belgian Blonde style is one of my all-time favorite beers. It’s generally a light, refreshing beer with a hint of barnyard, not in the way a big Cabernet Sauvignon can be barnyard, but with a nose of straw and an earthy quality that reminds me of the French countryside.
Big Sky’s version is super light and has a slightly spiced quality that might be coming from the yeast, as I know they don’t tend to spice many of their beers.
So get in and get yourself a growler of each of the new beers before they disappear.
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,
The flavor comes from pre-fermented beer, or wort that captures the beer’s nature without having to deal with the fizz and foam or the alcohol of the finished product.
I probably looked pretty funny walking down Higgins eating an ice cream cone on a 50-degree day with the wind blowing and rain drops pelting me, but it was worth it to try two of my favorite flavors come together in one product.
I’ve always been a huge fan of beer floats, the best being wood-aged, bourbon barrel stout floats with hand-made vanilla ice cream.
Beer and ice cream actually work very well together. Some of the best flavors in beer are natural ice cream flavors. Think of chocolate and coffee flavors, toffee, creamy caramel. You take a scoop of high-quality ice cream and put it in a big stout, you’re in for a real treat.
But ice cream and beer pair in other ways too. Fruity esters from the hops in beer can be incredible palate cleansers when paired with an offsweet basil gelato.
Cold Smoke is great as a flavoring for ice cream, but I plan to drop a scoop or two in a glass and add a can of the real thing for a Cold Smoke Float. I’ll let you know how that goes.
It’ll be interesting to see what they do next. Might we see a Moose Drool flavor or perhaps a doppel bock from Bayern?
Missoula’s legendary beer is back, albeit in a different flavor and brewed in Whitefish. Highlander, that Scottish-themed beer that defined generations of Montana beer drinkers from the early 1900s until the 1960s, is back, at least for this weekend. The beer, which is brewed by Great Northern Brewing Co., will be available at the Garden City Beer Festival on Saturday from noon until 8 p.m., unless they run out of course, and then Missoula and Butte will have to wait for the beer’s grand release in June, according to Bob Lukes, a Missoula attorney who owns the name and is in partnership with Great Northern Brewing Co. to produce the beer.
I was lucky enough to get a taste of this fine amber ale, and I have to say that it is a great take on Scotch-style beer. The original Highlander was a western light lager, and we can all be thankful that Lukes and Great Northern didn’t go that direction. Highlander is not a heavy scotch ale like a Coldsmoke but a lighter amber ale with a defined scotch maltiness that goes down like velvet. The beer pours a darker-brown shade of red, which produced a nice lacing on the fun Highlander pint glasses already available at Rockin’ Rudy’s.
Come sample the beer at the Garden City Beer Festival this weekend, and look for it around town sometime in June.
Photo by Michael Gallacher
Also, Lukes is looking for anyone with any memories, stories or photographs of the old Missoula Brewing Co., which produced Highlander beer. Got anything you’d like to share? Let me know, and I’ll forward it along until the new website for Highlander is up and running.