I found this article to be particularly interesting for the fact that the brewery uses wort for the cooking process. Our own Big Dipper uses the wort to make beer-flavored ice cream, and I can envision more restaurants utilizing the wort in various cooking techniques.
If I had to pick just one beer for tonight’s FCS championship game between the Montana Grizzlies and the Villanova Wildcats, that would suck. Luckily, I can pick as many as I want.
So, with that in mind, my first pick for tonight’s game would be…
Well, the weather in Chattanooga is nasty with lots of rain and chilly temps. So I’m thinking maybe a good porter with lots of roasted malts and some hints of chocolate would be good. Maybe a Deschutes Brewing Co. Black Butte Porter or a Kona Brewing Co. Pipeline Porter.
But then again, most of us in Montana will be watching the game from the comfort of our homes or possibly a sports bar, and a porter might be too filling too fast. In that case, I could really go for a big IPA, maybe something classic in the style and local, like Big Sky Brewing Co.’s IPA or perhaps a few cans of Kettlehouse Double Haul IPA, one for each half.
The national championship game is a big deal though, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal for a lot of people, unless you’re a Griz fan or a Grizzly football player of course. Maybe this occasion calls for something just a little special. Maybe a decadent Noel des Geants from Des Legendes in Belgium, and which you can pick up at Worden’s Market right now. There is also the Insanely Bad Elf, which makes a nice Christmas beer to go with a sweet, sweet victory.
How will you celebrate?
A friend of mine once described this Deschutes Brewing Co. beer as “like pouring a stack of pancakes out of a bottle.” And it’s true to an extent. This might be the thickest, maltiest, biggest brew you’ll ever drink. Maybe not. Regardless, if you haven’t tried it yet, you must. I’ve only ever seen it in this town once, long before the passage of HB400, which allows for a beer of this magnitude to be served.
You’ll find The Abyss at Worden’s Market, which also has a fine selection of new and interesting beers worth perusing, I might add, and The Good Food Store, which also has a fine selection of new and interesting beers to peruse.
As an added bonus, I think The Abyss would make a delightful breakfast beer on Christmas morning.
So far we’ve had a barley wine breakfast and some session beer for the long, holiday football game. Now it’s time for the main course, so to speak. Every Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I see people searching frantically through the wine section at their grocery store for some wine that will match some part of their holiday meal. Perhaps it’s a wine to match a rich, roasted game dish or a dessert wine, but no matter how hard they try, they will not find a wine that will match the entire meal. And thus you see them leaving with a six-pack carrier full of different wines.
Such a feat is possible with beer, however. Thought you don’t necessarily need to try. If your Thanksgiving meal is served in courses, feel free to try a few different beer styles to match the various moods of your courses.
But let’s start with one, overall beer for Thanksgiving dinner.
Most traditional turkey dinners are a rich tapestry of flavors and textures, not all of which go smoothly together or with a single beverage. However, if you analyze the meal as a whole, you’ll see that it generally lacks fire heat, which means hops and higher alcohol are acceptable, and it can mix bland and sharp flavors like mashed potatoes and cranberries, which means the beer should be neither too heavy nor too light.
For this kind of food, I like to look in the craft beer world’s meaty center. Medium ales and lagers to slightly heavy are best. And beers with a great balance of malt and hops are best. You can’t go wrong with pale ales, amber ales, medium Pilsners, Belgian tripels of even a Belgian sour.
Here are Some beers I would look for as an overall accompanist to your T-Day meal:
Saison Dupont from Brasserie Dupont – Light, grassy and refreshing, will not fill you up and should pair nicely with
Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing Co. – This is a heavy beer, but if you pour it like you would a $50 bottle of wine, it just might be the nicest pairing you’ll ever have.
Cuvee Rene from Lindemans – This is a sour beer, but if you want to really get interesting with tastes and flavors around your Thanksgiving Day spread, this beer might be perfect.
For some more familiar beers to try:
Mirror Pond Pale Ale from Deschutes Brewing Co. – A dry, crisp pale ale with some maltiness that will lend itself to lighter vegetable dishes and some hops to cut through greasy gravies.
Lake Missoula Amber from Kettlehouse Brewing Co. – A rounded, malty amber that could bring out the caramelized flavors of turkey skin and roasted root vegetables. If you don’t live in Missoula, many amber ales will have these characteristics and might be a great match for Thanksgiving.
Levitation Ale from Stone Brewing Co. – The caramel malts and residual sweetness on this beer make it a great overall Thanksgiving Day beer, and a few bottles of this spread around the table won’t feel that much different than having wine bottles around. This might be my favorite pairing this year.
As for matching various courses with different beers, keep in mind that pale ales work well with salads and appetizers, while ambers and Belgians side nicely with heavier courses. I won’t go into desserts, as I know believe that almost any bourbon-barrel-aged stout is a perfect dessert in and of itself or along side your favorites. Make sure you have a bottle of something on hand this Thanksgiving.
With that, I’ll conclude the Thanksgiving Day Beer Primer. Just remember that it’s all about personal taste and style. If you find something that looks good, try it. If you don’t want to experiment, these beers are a guideline, and you can replace any one recommendation with others in the same style.
And I’ll just take a moment to say thank you to all the craft breweries and fans of craft beer who make this blog all that it is. It’s your interest and dedication to craft beers that bring this to life. May you have much to be thankful for this year.
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.
I love that my friends love to pull something new and unique out of their cellars when I come over for a visit. For one, it helps expand my beer horizons, and it helps me to have a conversation about the beer I try for this blog. A one-sided conversation, which I often have with myself about my beer reviews, just doesn’t work when it comes to making beer a real live conversation between many people.
After spending some time with some new friends last week, Jon pulled this great beer out of his cellar. He, like me, is unable to keep his cellar going for long without the need for refilling it. We’ll call it an enthusiasm for beer whether it’s freshly stored or well aged.
Over a long, rambling and enjoyable conversation that covered a good portion of our personal stories, we sipped this fine beer and smelled the good food simmering in the kitchen.
Hints of fresh oak, vanilla and rum-raisin pummeled our taste buds, while the beer finished with slightly wine-like streaks of green fruit and then, finally, a subtle hoppiness that is evidence of the dry hopping the beer gets before it is bottled.
I’ve had numerous beers about which you can have a conversation, but I’ve had few conversational beers as delightful as Mirror Mirror from Deschutes Brewing Co.
Let’s hope HB 400 is signed by the governor soon, so that we’ll be able to get some Mirror Mirror come October when the law raising the legal definition of beer in Montana to 14 percent.
We drove into Libby at 10:40 a.m. The inversion was thick like pea soup, and the air was moist and the biting cold pierced my my three layers of clothing. It’s difficult to spend time in this town without thinking about what you’re breathing in the air or kicking up with your heals, though a blanket of snow eases the mind somewhat.
But, it is really difficult to spend time in Libby without thinking about the people who live and breath the air and kick the dust every day, wondering if some hidden killer is lurking in their lungs waiting to pop up like a piece of vermiculite in the hands of a young boy with a lighter.
The inversion broke around 2:30 p.m., with streams of sunlight ricocheting off white mountains onto to sidewalks that glisten with ice, not vermiculite as some reporters have said.
We recently went through a long period of inversions in Missoula, and I know how dispiriting they can be. I can only imagine how much worse it must be for Libbyans who are wondering what the identity of their town will be when someone finally decides how clean is clean enough and how safe is safe enough.
So, I was stoked to find a six-pack of Inversion IPA from Deschutes Brewing Co. at the local grocery store. A good IPA can take you mind of the troubles of the day, or help you process all the stories from a town of people who’ve lived more stories than most of us will ever hear in a lifetime.
Good luck Libby, the community spirit that is alive in this town is an encouraging sign that good things will come.
I’m often asked this question, and the answer is yes, you can.
There are quite a few beers labeled “organic” out there, and many are quite good.
Take the Green Lakes Organic Ale from Deschutes Brewing Co. It’s part of the Bond Street Series, the brewery’s rotating seasonal and specialty selection.
It’s one of my favorite amber ales, despite the organic label. The crystal and sterling hops really make this amber sing, while the malt sips along nicely and finishes smooth and with a hint of grassy sweetness.
Like I said, it’s a good beer despite the organic label.
I can agree that a brewery could get organic malts. I’ve seen organic malts advertised, and I believe they’ve been available for quite some time.
What I don’t quite believe is organic hops. One hop grower in Oregon told me that no organic hop has been developed because the plants are very susceptible to fungus. For the most part, hop farmers do not need to add much, in terms of fertilizers, insecticides or other additives, but they do have to add fungicide.
Because hops are one ingredient in beer, and do not constitute a majority of the ingredients, they do not have to be organic. Keep this in mind if you buy beer labeled organic. Chances are it is mostly organic, but if your conscience gets the better of you for the little discretions, you should know that the hops likely are not organic.
The good news is that farmers near Woodburn, Oregon have been experimenting with fungus resistant varieties of hops. The hope is to produce an organic variety within five years.
If you are concerned about the beer you drink, read the label carefully. The beer can say organic, and it might read like this: “Made with five types of %100 percent organic malted barley and balanced with Crystal and Salmon-safe Sterling hops, this auspicious amber ale is as easy to drink as it is on Mother Earth.”
No where does it say the hops are organic. Read your labels. Most organic beers will not say organic hops. I have seen a couple, and inquiries to the breweries went unanswered.