It’s been a hectic couple of weeks with a bachelor party in Los Angeles and a wedding in Denver, and both trips surely did not leave me wanting for beer (i.e. I’m taking several days to dry out before Wilco at Big Sky Brewing Co. - or at least trying to.)
Probably the best place I checked out was in Anaheim, Calif., before watching the Angels get shut out by the Diamondbacks. The brewery’s called Noble Ale Works and it’s a little hole in the wall in an industrial park less than a mile from Angel Stadium. (more…)
The North American Beer Awards were handed out last weekend in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Montana’s fine breweries fared pretty well. In western Montana, Kettlehouse Brewing Co. took home three awards, which included a gold for its “North” Double Haul as well as a bronze for its “South” Double Haul. Not quite sure on the difference between the two, I guess possibly the Northside’s is filtered while Myrtle Street’s isn’t. Bitter Root Brewing and Flathead Lake Brewing Co. also took home an award each. Montana Brewing Co., which always seems to do pretty well in these competitions, took home nine awards including four golds.
Here’s the list of Montana winners:
Bitter Root Brewing Co.
Bronze – Bitterroot Belgian Gold; Belgian-Style Pale Ale
Bozeman Brewing Co.
Gold – The Funky Virtue; American Style Wild or Sour Ales
Gold – Pinhead Pilsner; Bohemian-Style Pilsner, Dortmunder/Export
Bronze – Bozone Vienna Lager; Vienna Lager
Flathead Lake Brewing Co.
Bronze – Montucky Sour Cherry Brown; Flanders-Style Red or Brown Ale
Kettlehouse Brewing Co.
Gold – Double Haul North; English-Style India Pale Ale
Silver – ’09 Brick and Mortar Porter; Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale
Bronze – Double Haul South; English-Style India Pale Ale
Madison River Brewing Co.
Gold – Frostbite Barley Wine 09; American-Style Barley Wine
Gold – Copper John Scotch Ale; Scottish-Style Light, Heavy and Export
Silver – MRBC 58 Schlling; Scottish-Style Light, Heavy and Export
Montana Brewing Co.
Gold – MBC Wheat; Hefeweizen, Dark Hefeweizen
Gold – Happy Hour Hero; Ordinary Bitter
Gold – Hooligan’s Red Ale; American-Style Amber Ale
Gold – MBC Pale Ale; American-Style Pale Ale
Silver – Juice-Head Gorilla Imperial IPA; Double/Imperial India Pale Ale
Bronze – Billing’s Blonde Ale; Belgian-Style Pale (Golden) Strong Ale
Bronze – White Eagle Baltic Porter; Baltic-Style Porter
Bronze – MBC Golden Ale; English-Style Summer Ale
Bronze – MBC Amber; English-Style Mild Ale
Gold – Reserve Ale; Kolsch
Silver – Helio Hefeweizen; Hefeweizen/Dark Hefeweizen
Silver – Red Lodge Porter; Robust Porter
Bronze – Glacier Ale; Altbier
- Matt Pritchard
A new restaurant in Corvallis will host its first India pale ale tasting on July 20. Owner Pam Kaye says there will be 10 IPAs: Kettlehouse Double Haul, Flathead IPA2, Blackfoot Single Malt IPA, Bitter Root IPA, Lone Peak IPA, Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA, Sierra Nevada S. Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, Sam adams latitude 48, Lagunitas Hop Stoopia and Rogue Brutal IPA. Cost is $10, and five kinds of wings will be available for 50 cents each.
The Wild Mare is located at 283 Second St. in Corvallis.
- Matt Pritchard
A couple of weeks ago I went to Arizona to watch some spring training games (go White Sox!). While down there, I stopped by a Total Wine & More store, which has a large selection of wine, liquor and, most important, beer, for sale for some pretty decent prices. The beer aisle is set up with individual bottles and cans for sale, as well as six packs, 12 packs, etc. The store boasts plenty of brews that can’t be found in Montana, in addition to a good selection of Big Sky Brewing Co. beer.
I decided to pick up a few Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, among others. If you’re not familiar with them, Dogfish Head is based in Delaware and was started by Sam Calagione in 1995. It’s known for making creative beer with unusual ingredients, as seen in the show Brew Masters on Discovery Channel.
Anyway, I only recently got the beers back to my house (thanks Toni and Dan) and I opened up one of the 90 Minute IPAs for a test run the other day.
The 90 Minute is an Imperial IPA and comes in at 9 percent alcohol by volume and a whopping 90 IBUs. Dogfish Head describes the beer on the bottle as “featuring a single, constant 90-minute hop addition. It’s balanced by a ridiculous amount of English Two-Row Barley. Then we dry-hop it in every tank.”
It’s an amber-gold color with a fairly strong floral aroma. There are two things that stand out about this beer: One, how smooth and clean it is for its alcohol content; and two, the complexity. The beer is citrusy upfront and yet has a chocolate/espresso flavor on the finish, but not too much of either. Bottom line, I enjoyed it.
If you happen to run across this beer on your travels, don’t pass it up.
- Matt Pritchard
Here’s a nice look at this year’s 29th annual Great American Beer Festival, which was held last month in Denver. I, like any self-respecting beer drinker, love IPAs. Writer Eric Gorski of the Associated Press goes behind the scenes of the event’s most hotly-contested category, American-style IPA. Enjoy.
DENVER – The quest for top honors in American craft brewing has come here, to a hotel ballroom marked “restricted access.”
More than 140 bottles of American-style India Pale Ale sit stacked in donated Bud Light and King Cobra boxes, labors of hop love brewed by a cast of characters that includes an organic chemist, a man with a grim reaper tattoo and a guy who wants to make a beer that tastes like orange sherbet mixed with hot fudge ice cream.
Over the next nine hours, beer identified only by number will get sniffed, scrutinized, swallowed and spit out by judges at the 29th annual Great American Beer Festival, the world’s largest beer competition.
Only one American-style IPA will win gold, making it the craft beer equivalent of winning “American Idol.” Since 2001, no other contest category has been as competitive. “Every brewer wants this one,” as one judge put it.
It’s a simple case of supply and demand: the IPA’s popularity is soaring among brewers and drinkers alike, a testament to a maturing American beer palate and this country’s rich supply of hops in the Pacific Northwest.
“As you go through the journey of beer education and appreciation, hops and big hoppy character are something most people eventually gravitate toward,” said Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, Calif., a pioneer of the style. “They are just extraordinarily satisfying on the palate. Words almost fail for me. I feel like waxing poetic, and then my eyes sort of get soft. It’s a romantic subject for me.”
Consumers are showing the love. IPAs, distinguished by strong hop character and higher alcohol content than your standard 5.0 percent alcohol per volume beer, surpassed amber ales and trailed only pale ales this year among top-selling craft brewing styles at supermarkets, according to Chicago-based market research firm Symphony IRI Group. Eight of the top 15-selling new craft brands in 2010 are IPAs. (more…)
Where we learn about Double IPA and get flashbacks to the infamous Double Rainbow YouTube video.
Here’s the latest roundup from Big Sky Brewing Company:
2 kegs of Powder Hound left!!! And it is $5 fill day! Other brews on tap: Summer Honey, Trout Slayer, Scape Goat Pale Ale, IPA, Moose Drool Brown Ale, Bobo’s Robust Porter and India Brown Ale-Community Brew $10 growler fills benefit the Watson Children’s Shelter)
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.
It wasn’t really an Oscar-night thing, but Beau brought over some Stone Brewing Company IPA and some Deschutes Brewing Company Hop Henge IPA round about the third quarter of the big show. Can’t fault him though, he’s a volunteer for Big Brothers & Sisters of Missoula, and he spent most of Sunday afternoon hanging out with his little brother.
While Jeff Bridges was thanking his mom and dad for raising him in the “business” and cradling his gold statue, Beau and I sniffed the two big West Coast IPAs to see which one had the bigger nose. By color, the Hop Henge had a bit of a burnt caramel edge over the ripe barley color of the Stone IPA. But in smell, the Stone held a bit of an advantage with a wonderful aroma of fruity and flowery hops. I’m guessing they achieve this by the two weeks of dry hopping the beer is said to go through.
But in the glass and on the tongue, the Hop Henge comes out a bit ahead of the Stone IPA. The body is bigger and able to handle the 8.75 percent ABV like a linebacker carries his weight. The rich burnt caramel color translates to malty sweetness that plays cloyingly with the massive amount of cascade and centennial hops. My personal feeling is that the Hop Henge is probably in a different category. Perhaps it should be compared to a Stone Brewing Company Ruination IPA instead. On it’s own though, the Hop Henge is an outstanding achievement in the big IPA category. Despite using the cascade/centennial combo, it’s a very balanced beer with some exciting citrus and ground fruits on the tongue. Particularly strawberry and maybe some pineapple with a bit of summer herb garden, though I couldn’t pin it down to one particular herb.
The Stone IPA is a slightly lesser beer, but it just might be put together better. The nose blows off straight flowers and citrus with what I swear was a breeze from Northern California’s eucalyptus forests. There is a breadyness on the tongue that is decidedly absent in the Hop Henge. But the balance is where this beer scores its points. Traditional citrus and pine sit atop a balanced body like a multi-discipline athlete. Some beers are built like long-distance runners. They are built for the long haul, but they are skinny to a fault. Other beers rest on a comfortable, well-trained frame.
In the end, the Hop Henge weighs in a little stronger and with a little more reach than the Stone, but this match might just be unevenly weighted. Who knows though, another person might decide that the Stone had more than enough to stand up to the big Hop Henge.
Here’s the latest update from Chuck and Lyza and the good folks at Quarry Brewing Co. Looks like they’re doing a tamer version of their Ironstone IPA for IPA connoisseurs, and the list of Christmas goodies just goes on and on. I love these guys for the amount of fun they make out of the brewing lifestyle. Good an ya!
Holiday is fast approaching, few reminders on what’s going on at Quarry Brewery!
Back on Tap- SANDSTONE STOUT, very tasty come & try one, perfect beer for this
freezing weather!definitely hits the spot.
NEW beer will be on tap Dec. 14 “GNEISS IPA” 7%alcohol, well balanced IPA not
as potent as the Ironstone IPA.
Don’t forget about the Quarry HOLIDAY POTLUCK on Dec 12 Sat. starts @ 4pm
We’ll provide the main dish if you bring a side dish or dessert.Let me know if
your coming & what you’re bringing, we have a sign-up sheet @ the brewery or call me @ 723-0245
SEE ATTACHED FLIER!
DEC. 31 Thurs. start @5PM “NEW YEARS EVE PARTY”
A reserved keg of IRONSTONE IPA will be on tap to celebrate the NEW YEAR 2010!
FOOD, FUN & LIVE MUSIC
Don’t miss it!
Holiday Brewery Hours Dec. 24 Christmas Eve. 1-6 PM
BREWERY WILL BE CLOSED BOTH CHRISTMAS DAY & NEW YEARS DAY!
Lastly We would like to thank you for your continuing support!
Butte’s Local Brewery
Chuck & Lyza