Just another in a myriad of possible events for your Halloween:
Halloween costume contest and live music by Joan Zen, Saturday, October 31st
Before hitting the streets in costume and in pursuit of Hershey’s products make sure to come down to the brewery to see if your costume is the best of the brewpub! The winner with the best costume receives a gift certificate from the brewery…and all contestants get a free beer. Also, get ‘yer funk on with Joan Zen from 6-8:30pm….
Date-flavored beer? Of course. Why not? Broaden your perspective my friends. You can put anything in beer, and as long as it improves the basic tastes of water, malt, hops and yeast, it’s a fine thing in my book.
That said, I enjoyed the pomegranate-flavored Shmaltz Brewing Co. beer better. I don’t know if it was just this bottle, but there was a general funkiness and not too much fun in this beer. I shared it with a buddy, and we both had the same reaction. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t terribly memorable either.
I got it straight from Tim’s mouth via a cell phone call while I was on my way to rock climb today. In fact, we cut our climb a bit short so we could get back for the Grand Opening this afternoon. Not totally sure about the hours yet, but Kettlehouse Northside should be a great place to hang out for northsiders and everyone else alike.
Nearly two years in the making, I can safely say that I have anticipated this moment since the day I moved to Missoula. What a sweet 4th of July treat.
The two lives of Michael Jackson.
One was a freak of nature, a tour de force of child-like love of simple things. And one was a wild-haired creature of mirth and merriment with a penchant for blondes. I’ll let you decide which is which.
I loved how whenever I mentioned the renowned beer guru Michael Jackson, people inevitably blinked and asked when the gloved one began writing about craft beer. “Oh,” I’d tell them, “It was right after he did that Pepsi commercial that burned up his hair real bad.” “Oh,” they’d say and smile and take another sip.
Michael Jackson the pop singer died yesterday at the age of 50. Michael Jackson, the journalist and beer writer, passed away in August of 2007. It seems both died from heart attacks.
And though I’ve never heard a negative word about Michael Jackson, the writer, much has been said about Michael Jackson, the singer, songwriter and dancer. But each contributed something lasting and worthwhile, no matter the outcomes of their individual lives.
That’s why I gotta make a toast to the two Michael Jacksons, their respective legacies and their work to make the name Michael Jackson a household name. At least the gloved one became a household name. The other Michael Jackson found his way into the hearts of millions of craft brew lovers.
What would I drink to a musical and dance artist and a beer and whiskey writer who shaped public sentiment toward quality craft beers?
Why a Michael Jackson Malheur of course. Aside from the name meaning misfortune in French, the beer is a perfect send off in many other ways.
For every wound, a balm.
For every sorrow, cheer.
For every storm, a calm.
For every thirst, a beer.
I could really use your help. If you’re in Western Montana and you love craft brew, heck even if you aren’t in the area, consider becoming a member of SpeakUpMissoula.com. It’s a great place to raise your voice, and, if you join the craft brew group, to raise your glass. Here’s a little survey for my summertime beer research project.
Alix at Big Sky Brewing Co. turned me on to this story several months ago. I never realized how significant it could be, proving that if you ask the right question, you’ll often get a great story.
The number in the left-hand corner of the chalkboard in the Big Sky Brewing Co. taproom gets bigger every Thursday: 614, 615, 616.
Inevitably, patrons ask taproom server Alix Jennings, “What’s that number mean?”
“Let me tell you about Kimo,” Jennings replies.
Almost 12 years ago, Kimo Galland lost his close friend Mark Sowre to suicide.
“Mark and I were bicycle-racing buddies,” Galland remembers. “I didn’t know he had some real demons inside of him that were really haunting him.”
After Sowre’s death, Galland and a group of guys who’d been friends since grade school decided to check up on each other every Thursday.
In those early days, three or four guys would meet at each other’s houses.
“We decided to get together each Thursday, drink a couple beers, eat a good meal, play some games and sit around and talk and make sure everyone was happy with themselves and with everybody else,” Galland said.
They called it the Safety Meeting, and Galland offered to pick up a couple of growlers of Moose Drool beer each Thursday because he worked near the brewery’s former downtown location.
Numbers mean something to Galland.
Whether he’s counting the 400 people on his list of Missoula hockey enthusiasts, the 200 to 300 pairs of skates he sharpens each week during hockey season, the score of the last Maulers game, Wayne Gretzky’s 14 consecutive 100-or-more-point seasons, or his own streak at Big Sky Brewing, Galland is nothing if not meticulous.
On Thursday, he waited for a friend to pick him up from his job at Bob’s Sew & Vac – where he also runs the hockey store – for the weekly ride to Big Sky.
In the car, Galland and his former boss, David Gjefle, talked about the Safety Meeting.
“We’ve never really missed one, have we?” Gjefle said.
“No, we never have.” Galland said.
“You’ve been an absolute trouper,” Gjefle told Galland. “There were times when you didn’t feel well and you just went anyway.”
“OK, let’s see what Alix is up to today,” Galland said.
Galland has seen eight different servers since his streak began.
With a wet thumb, he smudged out the 6 at the end of the number and replaced it with a 7 as one of his six growlers was filled with Moose Drool.
Thus was marked week 617 in a streak that stretches back to the middle of the Clinton presidency, before Sept. 11, 2001, before Big Sky Brewing Co. built its state-of-the-art facility out by Missoula International Airport.
“I’ve always kept it,” Galland said of his number. “It started in the brewery downtown. Old Russ, every Thursday he’d know I was coming in,” he said of a longtime taproom server. “When they moved out here, they had a chalkboard, so I started writing it down in the corner.”
Galland has never missed a Thursday in nearly 12 years of coming to Big Sky Brewing Co. to get his growlers for the Safety Meeting.
The closest call came when Galland was so ill he had to sit in the car and wait for a friend to fill the growlers for him.
The number 617 represents a commitment to more than his favorite beer. It’s a commitment to the memory of a good friend, the commitment to a group of guys who faithfully look out for each other.
“In nine years, I think I’ve missed one,” Gjefle said, sipping on one of the brewery’s several sample brews. “I ditched my mother-in-law’s wedding for a Safety Meeting.”
Gjefle was not one of the original members of the Safety Meeting, but it’s been a huge part of his life since he joined.
“Well, you know how stress builds up in life?” Gjefle said. “Your stress just goes away after a Safety Meeting.”
Board games, hockey games, beer, steak, camaraderie and an endless list of topics characterize a typical Safety Meeting.
“Maybe somebody has a personal problem,” Gjefle said. “Everybody supports them. We get serious about things as well.”
If somebody runs out of money on a poker night, they can’t just say, “I’m out.”
“Nope, somebody throws them the cash,” Gjefle said. “You’re in.”
At the 260-week mark, Galland picked up some growlers as usual, and the friends went to a bar called the Lumberjack.
“They had a horseshoe pit, so we played horseshoes until dark,” Galland said.
That’s how you celebrate a five-year anniversary at Safety Meeting.
At the 520-week mark, the whole gang got together at somebody’s house to celebrate.
“We talked about Mark,” Galland said. “It had been 10 years, and he was our close friend.”
Alix Jennings looks forward to Galland’s weekly visits, too.
“Well, I mean, it’s one of those things, and I’m sure I had the question as well: ‘What does he do on holidays? What does he do when he goes out of town? What does he do when he’s sick?’ ” Jennings said.
On Thanksgiving, Galland visited the brewery on Wednesday instead of Thursday.
Other than that, he plans road trips to hockey games so they won’t interfere with Safety Meeting.
Meanwhile, the number in the corner of the chalkboard at Big Sky Brewing grows bigger and more meaningful.
“I’d say people ask about the number at least five times a week, if not more,” Jennings said.
Galland pays for his six growlers, up from the original two he’d pick up every week because Safety Meeting has grown to 15 or 20 people.
He looks down at the growlers in their wooden carrying case.
“Six hundred and seventeen,” he says. “That is a long streak.”
“I thought the first couple of years were great,” Galland said. “We were going to everyone else’s house for dinner. I thought, ‘OK, couple of years down the road it will be over,’ but it’s kind of hung on. Now it’s so big it’s unstoppable.”
Take a tour of Glacier Brewing Co.