According to a recent Kettlehouse Brewing Company update on Facebook:
I just talked to Brad at the Rhino and we’re going to stash a keg of Barleywine in his basement cooler for a year. Crack it open next year for Barlyewine fest. Which is going on now at the Rhino. Check it out.
Anybody got any more info? Guess I’ll see you at the Rhino!
There are a lot of really bad things going on. Monster snowstorms that just confirm that Montanans are and always will be superior to the East Coasters, earthquakes in Haiti and war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I bet you forgot about those, didn’t you?
But there are simple reminders of all that is right with the world. This is not one of them.
In fact, Kettlehouse Brewing Co.’s Barley Wine is nothing short of biotechnology in a glass. It must be so. If you follow the smell and taste procedure required to look like an idiot while you’re sipping a beer from a snifter, you’ll notice a sweet, fruity and malty nose that hearkens to dried fruit of the tropical variety. I’m talking coconut flakes, fig and banana with something I can’t quite put my finger on. Must be a fruit I’ve had but can’t remember the name. Then you take a sip, and sure enough those hints of the tropics are right there, along with a smooth maltiness that just seems to want to stay in your mouth all day. Then BLAM! the hops descend on you like Attila the Hun. They pound your brain until your eyes want to water, and there is a strange effervescence that seems to run around your mouth like pop rocks mixed with Coca Cola.
I think I shook my head three or four times, probably involuntarily, after the first sip. And I dipped my nose in the glass to see what telltale signs of magnanimous hop usage must surely be there. But there were none, only a tame, fruity barley smell. In a few minutes, my senses calmed down and I sniffed again, followed by a big sip, which I swished around my mouth trying to find that illusive fruit I must have eaten as a child in some foreign country. But it wouldn’t come to me. Star Fruit, no, Jack Fruit, no, I have no idea, but that Kettlehouse Barley Wine surely has something unique on it that makes me want to put it under a microscope and dissect it.
If you get a chance to stop in to kettlehouse Brewing Co.’s Southside location at Myrtle St., please do. This is one fine beer that needs to be appreciated enough to convince Tim and the crew to bottle it, can it, put a few kegs away for next year to see how it ages or otherwise keep this bad boy coming.
My buddy Beau is a really good home brewer. His passion for good beer and dedication to beer experimentation is really outstanding in a town with a great bunch of home brewers. I’ve enjoyed every batch of Beau’s beer that I’ve tried so far, and this isn’t usually the case for homemade beer, which can suffer greatly due to sanitation issues.
Last night Beau brought a couple bottles of his homemade barley wine over for the Super Bowl. This is one of the few of his beers I hadn’t tried yet, and I was really looking forward to it. This one blew me away. Like I said, I haven’t had a bad Beau beer yet, but this bad boy was not only one of the best homemade beers I’ve ever had, it was one of the best barley wines I’ve ever had.
When I say it was like Nilla Wafers in a glass, I do not exaggerate. Sweet caramel and toffee with vanilla and tropical fruit are simplistic ways of describing a very complex and exciting beer. The yeast characteristic in this beer seriously has a cookie-wafer taste to is, which really brings out the vanilla and some sweet dried pineapple and coconut.
So why am I writing about a beer that you will probably never have?
Because I think Beau, and the other homebrewers around here deserve a little notice once-in-a-while. It’s easy to focus on the craft beer industry and forget that if it weren’t for homebrewers, well, we wouldn’t have much of an industry.
So the next time your neighbor or homebrewing friend offers you a bottle of something they made in their garage, take it and pour it in a good beer glass. You never know, you just might be drinking the best thing you’ll ever drink.
And if you have an inclination to brew something amazing yourself, join the Zoo City Zymurgists. There are plenty of people like Beau out there who will be glad to help you get started.
This article about barley wine from GQ magazine states that barley wines can be hard to find. Well, that’s only if you don’t live in Montana, where Big Sky Brewing Co., Bitterroot Brewing and Blackfoot River Brewing Co. all produce outstanding barley wines, just to name a few.
Still, I agree with the assessment that barley wines are a unique beer that should be sipped and enjoyed slowly. They’re a beer where you can really learn about fruit and nut flavors in beer, and they stand out from other beers mainly because of their malty sweetness tempered only by bold hops and their high alcohol content.
Besides the locals, you can find some good barley wines at the Good Food Store and at Worden’s Market.
If you know someone in Helena or you feel like driving over, you might want to get a hold of them or leave now. This Blackfoot River Brewing Co. nectar will sell out fast. I’m hearing really good reports about it.
I’ve said this every year since I started saying things about beer. Beer is a far better choice for your Thanksgiving meal than wine. There are myriad reasons why, but I won’t go over them here. Suffice it to say that your craft-beer selection for T-Day is bigger than ever, and the possibilities for amazing beer-food pairings is almost endless. So, to make you aware of some of the best stuff out there right now, I’m going to highlight several great Thanksgiving beers to try over the next few days as you finish your shopping for the big day.
Today we’ll start with your breakfast beer. Yes, I said breakfast beer. For most people, Thanksgiving is a day off, which is the perfect time to enjoy a breakfast beer. I’m not talking any PBR or Coors Light breakfast for champions either.
In my family, Thanksgiving starts at the crack of dawn. Breakfast is a chance to get together and sit around while mom lays out the fixings for the big meal. This is when I’ll open a bottle of barley wine or two.
Barley wine is a great breakfast beer, especially many of the bourbon-barrel aged varieties out there today. The vanilla and caramel flavors go well with many breakfast foods, while the big body and hop structure give you a solid beer to sip on throughout the morning. The key to enjoying beer on Thanksgiving is sipping a few big beers or sticking with session beers throughout the day. The second option won’t give you very many taste choices though.
Here are some great options for your Thanksgiving breakfast beer:
Big Sky Brewing Co.: Olde Blue Hair Barley Wine
Great Divide Brewing Co.: Old Ruffian Barley Wine
Stone Brewing Co.: Stone Old Guardian
Any barley wine will work for your Thanksgiving breakfast beer, so find one from your area or one from the list and crack one open for mom as she slaves away over turkey, stuffing and green beans. It’ll make her day better.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss beer to watch Thanksgiving Day football with.
And it has my name on it. Well, not really. It has the Grizzly Growler name on it, but since I try to fill those rather tremendous shoes by posting under that name, I’ll count it.
So I was finally able to stop into Bitterroot Brewing to try some samples of all their current Brewer’s Whims. And I was not disappointed in the least. The Imperial IPA is everything you’ve heard it is. With four hops with citrusy characteristics, it’s kind of like the Greyhound of beers. Big, fruity with a lighter body than you might expect in a an Imperial IPA, this beer literally knocks your socks off with hop flavor on a very comfortable base. Big alcohol with a nose like walking into a tropical greenhouse, the hop profile on this bad boy takes you back to the early days of Oregon and Washington when they were perfecting the Northwest-style IPAs. But rest assured, this beer retains those magical Montana qualities that have made Bitterroot Brewing such a destination in this state.
The CollaBeeration Porter, a Baltic-style porter that spent more than a little time on bourbon wood, is a fantastic early winter beer. I can only imagine joining my colleagues at the Ravalli Republic as they plot their next snowboard or back-country ski adventure over a few snifters of this. Chocolaty with some vanilla hints from the bourbon, this beer displays some deeper notes characteristic of dark malts like dried fruit and even some coconut that I thought rounded out the bourbon flavors a bit.
The year-old Barley Wine was phenomenal, as only aged barley wine can be. With honey, straw, whiskey, dried fruit and some Euro-style licorice, this beer is a conucopia of flavors. I can only imagine what it would taste liked aged another year or two. Oh, well, some beers you just have to drink now.
And finally, if you can’t get down to Bitteroot Brewing for their Brewer’s Whims, you should be able to get a hold of their Winter Ale, a very well-balanced dark ale with a hint of spices on a very smooth and drinkable malt base. With an effervescent white-ish head and some healthy hop structure, this winter bear harkens to those favorites like Deschute’s Jubalale, but the hop profile makes this one extra special. If you like those big, dark beers that warm you on cold winter days, this would be one to try.
Bitterroot Brewing just announced they will be pouring they’re one-year-old Barley Wine starting Sept. 5. I suggest we all show up and keep them accountable.
There is a new barley wine on tap at Bitter Root Brewery. I haven’t had one from them yet, but knowing how brewer Paul Thomas makes his beer, it’s bound to be good. And if this inversion doesn’t lift soon, I’m going to start looking for a place to live in Hamilton, which means I can drink Bitter Root beer every day.
According to general manager Jason Goeltz, the beer is:
Brew #868, American Style Barley Wine, A hoppy and strong beer with citrus notes and a malty, bitter finish
Can’t wait to try it.