Bitter Root Brewing is hosting another Brewer’s Dinner on Sunday, March 18, at 5 p.m. Seats generally fill up pretty quickly, so if you’re thinking about going email Jason Goeltz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $55 per person, and that gets you six (what?) courses paired with the Root’s delicious beer over three hours. I haven’t seen what’s on the menu this time around, but to give you an idea, this was one dessert from a recent dinner:
Malted barley pudding with a cherry compote, pistachio butter and a dry hopped (yes..you read that right…dry hopped chocolate with Citra hops) ganache, paired with Red Dread Imperial Red Ale.
I’ve been itching to get over there for one of these shindigs. Not sure if this will be the one, but hopefully soon.
- Matt Pritchard
Last weekend’s North American Beer Awards, held in Idaho Falls, Idaho, left many Montana breweries basking in the glow of shiny medals. The event was put on by the North American Brewers Association and was said to have drawn more than 200 breweries. Last year, for instance, more than 1,200 beers were judged.
In Missoula, Kettlehouse Brewing Co. took gold for its Cold Smoke, and Bayern Brewing took gold for its Dopplebock. Bitter Root Brewing also claimed a gold medal for its Oktoberfest. Montana Brewing Co. was the big winner in Montana, taking five golds, three silvers and a bronze. Here’s a link to all the winners by category. After the jump are all the Montana winners by brewery. Cheers to great beers. (more…)
While searching for champagne in a shipwreck near Finland’s Aland Islands last July, scientists stumbled upon five bottles of ”one of the world’s oldest preserved beers.” Now, they hope to determine the ingredients through chemical analysis in an attempt to create a new beer from the centuries-old brew. One of the researchers who tasted the beer decribed it as “a little sour and you could taste the saltiness of it slightly.” Here’s more from Matti Huuhtanen of the Associated Press. (more…)
Here are the official results of the 2010 Mountain Brewers’ Beer Festival. I apologize if I missed anyone, the list was kind of difficult to read. Looks as if Bitterroot Brewing and Montana Brewing Company really cleaned house this year. Nice job everyone.
Bayern Brewing – Doppelbock, bronze
Big Sky Brewing Company – Bobo’s Robust Porter, Gold.
406 Series Saison
Bitterroot Brewing – Huckleberry Honey Ale, Silver
Collabeeration Porter, Silver
Munich Helles Bock, Gold
Nut Brown Ale, Gold
Kettlehouse Brewing Company – Cold Smoke, Silver
Madison River Brewing Company – Frostbite Rye Barleywine, Bronze
Copper John Scotch Ale, Gold
Montana Brewing Company – Custer’s Last Stout, Bronze
Whitetail Wheat, Gold
Stillwater Rye, Gold
Two Moon Saison, Gold
Red Lodge Ales – Red Lodge Hefeweizen, Gold
Glacier Ale, Silver
Congratulations to all of our Montana breweries and their phenomenal beers. You’ve proved once again that Montana is home to some of the best brewers in the Rocky Mountain West.
Jake Talbot just might be the most recognizable brewer in Montana. I say might, because there’s no way to know for sure. But his ginger hair is unmistakable when cross his path inn Hamilton or elsewhere.
He keeps it shorter now, but there was a time when he had long, red dread locks, a testimony to his free-spirited ways. The fact that Bitterroot Brewing has named their Imperial Red Ale after Mr. Talbot is a testament to his big personality and his larger-than-life attitude about life.
Driving up the Bitterroot Valley under a high, spring sun can be distracting. The jagged peaks of the mountains dancing in and out of sunlight, and the glistening river snaking along beside you can drive a man to daydream. Lucky for me I had my trusty traveling companion, my best friend whom I’ve known since third grade, the one who keeps me on the straight and narrow, so to speak. Now a lot of guys wouldn’t instinctively grab their wife when running off to a beer dinner at a nice craft brewery. After all, most of our quaffing is done in the presence of other beer nerds, and a beer nerd my wife is not.
But craft beer can be redemptive, and I want to tell you why.
Many years ago, my wife would only sip a little pink wine once in a while. Fast forward many years and a hard-working husband who would bring home every imaginable type and style of wine trying to grow her palate. Flash forward a few more years later, and she’s sitting on the beach sipping a Corona with about a dozen lime wedges stuff in the neck.
Flash forward to Sunday night at Bitterroot Brewing. Many years of hard work have produced a palate able to taste different beers and discern flavor differences. But it didn’t really matter, you could have been a novice and enjoyed the amazing spread that evening.
A decent crowd mingled before the event, standing around an L-shaped table with white linen. The evening sun bounced off red-brick buildings in view out the back of the brewery’s upstairs dining area.
There were a few acquaintances, and we introduced ourselves to others sitting around us about to become “beer buddies.”
The cheerful servers poured each diner some Nut Brown ale, which we sniffed, sipped, swirled and otherwise quaffed. Then two perfectly seared sea scallops appeared with a roasted green chili corn puree and a dollop of preserved lime “Beer” blanc.
A bit of the scallop alone was enough to dissolve into a long, savoring sigh, but with a bit of the puree and the lime condiment added, it brought out the faint hops in the Nut Brown like warming to a new found friendship.
Conversation rose and fell like a tide, coming back at times to the craft beer and proceeding on to politics, music and technology. Always it came back to beer.
My wife had struck up a conversation with a delightful lady across the table from her over the first beer, and much like flavors build one on top of another, little commonalities grew to become shared experiences, which are fertile grounds for the blossoming of friendship.
The very last of the brewery’s vaunted Collabeeration Porter was served into snifters, and those of us who know and love the beer let it warm in the glass to reveal the deep vanilla and chocolate flavors hiding there. Even through the sweet seared pork tenderloin sitting on a bed of charred radicchio and glazed with an apple cider reduction and chunks of festive Gorgonzola dotting the plate, we let our beer sit, sipping slowly to combine the tart apple flavors and faint bitterness on the radicchio with the bold malt on the beer. Masterful.
The only flaw I could see coming was my own. I’ve never been able to convince my wife as to the shear pleasure of India Pale Ale, which was the beer pairing for a root vegetable gratin in a buttermilk cauliflower sauce with crumbled goat cheese. Fortunately, the creamy sauce with plenty of butter made for a nice palate coating that took a little bitterness off the IPA. And for the first time ever while drinking an IPA, I saw her smile. Of course it could have been the new friend she found sitting across the table, but I like to think it was a little of both.
The intermezzo, or palate cleanser, very nearly wiped away the palate memories of the foods and beers just tried, which is what it’s intended to do, and yet it also served as a great connecting bridge. A spoonful of malted parsnip sorbet topped with candied ginger kept some of the best flavors of beer moving us forward, rather than just washing away. Brilliant.
And now to my epiphany, for I have seen a good thing, and it has changed my life. Duck has been my fascination for many years. From hunting the birds along ditches and small ponds as a teenager to hunting for the perfect duck dish in restaurants, I’ve pursued this wonderful food for a long time without really understanding what I was looking for.
The new and amazing Imperial Red Ale recently released at Bitterroot Brewing Company provided the ground work for my epiphany. With a smooth, caramel and toasted bread body and a nose that faintly reminds one of the night smell of hop harvest, this big red ale spoke of rich flavors combined in a fowl melange. Which is exactly what showed up on our table. Bowls of hearty cassoulet, rich and creamy with chunks of duck bacon, chanterelle mushrooms and duck-fat-infused beans held up duck sausages and seared duck tenderloin. And the big red ale curled around this goodness adding a slight sweetness and mingling with gamey duck with floral hints of spring bursting from each bite. Inspired.
Full to bursting, we conversed in rapid-fire exclamations at the shared epiphany, while others simply sipped the remaining beer in pondering silence.
And unlike other beer dinners, which sometimes end in a big stout or porter as a pairing for dessert, the Belgian Honey Trippel, dripping with fireweed honey and lavish Belgian yeast notes of cloves, cinnamon and bready goodness, was poured to combine with a sweet potato beignet and orange peel ice cream with a delightful molasses caramel drizzled over the plate. Light and with almost perfect pairing flavors of orange and cream and caramel and breadiness, this dish almost single-handedly captures the pure power that beer and food combinations can have.
And so we ended the night completely satisfied and fast friends with our dining companions, a testament to what craft beer and food can do in a slow, contextual way. The Bitterroot Brewing dinner was one of the best examples of how craft beer is the greatest lubricant to conversation and friendship I’ve ever seen. And I’m raising my glass to many more of these in the future. My compliments to the brewers, the chef, the servers, my table mates and my soul mate who made Sunday night unforgettable.
Looking for something to do tonight? Head over to Bitterroot Brewing and get yourself some fly tying lessons and a pint of really good beer.
Andy Carlson will be teaching his dragonfly pattern @ fly tying night, tonight!
Andy has been an outfitter and guide here in the ‘Root since the early ’80s, one might say he’s reached the ’legend’ status. He’ll be teaching everyone his dragonfly pattern this evening, come on down and learn an amazing pattern! Tying begins @ 6…
Until recently, mug number 98 sat dusty and forlorn on a shelf at Bitterroot Brewing. But some hard-working journalists and Grizzly Growler fans at the Ravalli Republic newspaper have been filling in for me in between my long absences from the southern Bitterroot Valley.
Which is why it was funny that the server in the taproom should look at me funny when I requested to see my old mug. “Who are you?” she asked. “I’m the Grizzly Growler,” I responded. “I write the beer blog.” When she looked confused, I explained that the boys from the Ravalli tend to come in and use my mug. “I see, I usually know everyone’s face and I didn’t recognize yours,” she said.
So, yeah, I don’t get down to Bitterroot Brewing as often as I’d like. It’s not always the 45-minute drive, which I love, it’s more the time-sucking requirements of job, family and community.
But I did get a chance to pop in briefly recently and try the vaunted Belgian Honey Trippel and to get a sneak peak of the Wit they’re getting ready to put on tap.
Brewed with 125 pounds of Fireweed honey from Washington State, the Belgian Honey Trippel is a sweet offering the gods of Belgian beer. Made with Belgian yeast to capture the true fruity, bready spirit of Belgian beers, this particular version really stands out in strength of character. From the 9.75 percent ABV to the strong malt backbone, this beer is a balanced ode to Westmalle and the other artisans of Belgian. The light honey taste is an interesting alternative to the use of Belgian candy sugar. I found this beer to be different enough from other Montana-made Belgian-style beers that it stands out a lot. It’s that combination of Belgian traditional brewing ingredients and techniques paired with the addition of local products like honey and even Montana water that make it unique.
The Wit, which should go on soon, was brewed using some rye, which gives the beer a clean and firm bite to it. It’s not a bitter bite, but something strong from the use of rye, which has such a distinctive taste. It also makes this beer much drier than you’d expect.
I’m hoping they will indeed put some away for summertime, because I could more than a few hours spend wading the Bitterroot River followed up by a thirst-quenching session at the brewery over a couple pints of this good-looking cloudy beer.
Something to do at Bitterroot Brewing on Thursday night:
Don’t forget: Lost Trail Ski Patrol Fundraiser tomorrow night with live music by Bob Wire! We’ll have a 50/50 and raffle some really cool items to assist in the fundraiser. Just received a VERY nice Mountain Hardware Monkey Man zip fleece to raffle as well as a RESKI ski chair….come and help raise some funds!