I’m back in college now and I can tell you it’s not as fun of a time as Kettlehouse Kolledge looks to be.
Kettlehouse Brewing Co. is starting up classes at the Northside on Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-7 p.m. beginning Feb. 20 and lasting until March 20. There are four sessions: a brewery tour (with a free pint), a tasting with a Kettlehouse brewer, one homework assignment and a flight special. You can sign up at either the Northside or Myrtle Street location beginning at noon on Feb. 20. Space is limited so if you’re thinking about doing this you’d better be proactive.
Unlike real school, tuition is FREE. Plus, if you complete Kolledge, there’s graduation party at the Union Club on March 29.
- Matt Pritchard
We at Kettlehouse Brewing Co are hosting the 3rd annual “Hop Picking Party” on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 6 p.m. at 817 Grant, one block west of the North Tap room. Our usual hop supply was severely damaged in a wind storm and is not yielding hops this year. We need any and all hops you can muster. Bring hops and friends. A keg will be provided … come on over!
- Matt Pritchard
Bloomberg Businessweek has Montana as the second biggest beer-drinking state in the country.
According to the article, Montana’s beer sales come in at 30.5 gallons per person, just shy of New Hampshire’s 32.7 gallons per person. The national average was 20.7. Rounding out the Top 5 is North Dakota, South Dakota and Nevada. It also says Montana collects just more than $4 million in state excise taxes on malt beverages.
Montana has 30 brewers, according to the Beer Institute—that’s far fewer than states such as California, which has 318, but it’s plenty per capita for a place with only 989,415 people. Montana brewers manufacture more than 75,000 barrels of beer each year, according to the Montana Brewers Assocation. Makers include Big Sky, Kettle House, Bayern and Bitter Root.
I love it when these articles mention Missoula-area breweries as examples for the state. Be proud you’re blessed with such great beer.
- Matt Pritchard
I popped into the Myrtle St. Kettlehouse the other day for a beer, and I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a Crystal Pilsner on tap. This single-hop Pils was perfect after walking out of my air-conditioned office into Southern Baptists Sanctuary heat of a Missoula summer afternoon.
Clean and crisp with some spice on the nose and palate from the Crystal hops, this beer has an unmistakable bubble gum or fruit characteristic that makes it not just a good thirst quencher but a really fun beer to sip in those nice lager glasses that Kettlehouse is now using.
The Crystal Pils would make for a great river beer or with a dinner of grilled chicken and salad or even seafood. Lot’s of fun stuff to do with this beer.
Across town, I found an interesting Red Rye Ale at Big Sky Brewing Company. If you’re not familiar with Rye-style beers, this one might come as a surprise. It’s not a big beer, per se, but it’s a bold beer. Rye has a certain spice or boldness to it that barley or wheat beers do not. I told my wife it’s like the difference between eating pastrami on wheat and eating pastrami the way it was meant to be eatin’, on rye. The base of that sandwich makes all the difference, and it’s the same with the beer.
Again, it’s not a heaviness, it’s a certain mouthfeel, maybe an astringency that really plays nicely with the hops and yeast characteristics on this beer. It lacks the biscuity quality of barley beers, but that rye backbone holds up a nice hops structure that’s as wide as it is tall.
The Red Rye Ale would make for a good porch sipper, and it’s spectacular with spicy barbecue, especially Asian rubs or Korean barbecue.
Now that the sun is finally out and about in Missoula, the Kettlehouse Brewing Company Northside location has a back deck area that is open for the enjoyment of a beer outside. They don’t have any furniture yet, so come prepared to stand and don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
Big Sky Brewing Company is near my house. It makes sense to pop over there with neighbors or friends for a few samples and some good conversation. We usually fill the growler and head home for dinner. The Kettlehouse Brewing Company’s Northside location is on the way home from work. On Fridays I’ll usually take my daughter there for some root beer and a chance to connect with her friends who form a riotous mob in the back corner of the pub where we sequester them. The South Hole, as it the Kettlehouse Southside location is informally called, is a block away from work. It makes for a great after-work beer any day of the week. But what about Bayern Brewing, arguably one of the nicest tap rooms in the city?
After a soaking softball game in which the Missoulian Mauve Sox gave a bit of a drubbing to the Bondsman, a few of the players wanted to go somewhere warm and dry rather than sit around in drizzly weather for the obligatory after-game beer. The suggestion of Bayern excited a few people, but I was sure they were closed, after all, it was 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening.
Turns out they were open, and the house was packed. Six of us settled in with the one last pint we could get before the 8 p.m. Montana Beer Law curtain call. But most of us ordered one of the brewery’s famously malty and high-alcohol warmers, which did the trick against the chills permeating inward from the soaked rain coats, t-shirts and performance gear. It was great to relive the game in such a nice environment with a tasty beer in hand.
In writing about beer everyday, it’s sometimes difficult to see the wider picture of all we have here in Missoula and the Bitterroot and Flathead valleys. I’m grateful to friends Nick and Chelsi for suggesting Bayern, and I’m glad to be reminded that the tap room has Sunday hours, which makes it a prime player for after hikes, games and just about any Sunday activity Missoulians can think of.
Do you like hanging out at all of Missoula’s tap rooms? If not, where do you go and why? Proximity, beer styles, servers? Would love to get your feedback Missoula.
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.
There has been a little dust down at the Kettlehouse Myrtle Street Location recently. Al Pils’ secret hideaway, known alternatively as his office, is now hidden behind a wall, and the brewery’s guts are now hidden behind a large garage door, giving the place a more hangout appeal, in my opinion. The new lines clean up the inside in a way that makes you feel less like you’re standing inside a working brewery and more like you’re visiting a drinking establishment.
Another change you may or may not have noticed is the lack of a large fermenter right in the front serving area. The back wall is now given over to a huge mural of someone in a kayak. The whole makeover kind of livens the place up a bit. Here’s a few grainy, terrible photos to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Reading down the list of beers selected by a supposed A-team of beer people in this America’s Next Best Beer Poll, one must assume that most of the “beer experts” were from the East Coast. Yes, Colorado is well represented on the list, which features a poll so that it can be decided once and for all. What will America’s Next Best Beer be? But the divide between beer connoisseur and the general beer-buying population is great.
The beers that were selected, the few that I’m actually familiar with, seem like great candidates to go national, but will they? That’s up to the fickle American public. Perhaps Kettlehouse Brewing Company’s Cold Smoke Ale will end up going national, becoming as it is in the town a national sensation. Or perhaps Big Sky Brewing Company’s Scape Goat in a can ends up satisfying a national thirst for a light, crisp pale ale with good hops and a refreshing taste. Don’t discount Bayern Brewing’s Dump Truck or Face Plant. Both beers could end up running hog wild all over the market if the general American beer consumer decides that these are a product they cannot live without.
That said, a general poll cannot possibly capture all the information that is out there on the subject. We can only stop and watch whatever happens.
For now, here’s the list of beers on that poll. Which one would you pick? If you don’t like the selection, what would you pick instead?
AleSmith Anvil ESB
B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout
Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
Cigar City Brewing Jai Alai IPA
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Lagunitas Brewing’s IPA
New Belgium Brewing’s Fat Tire Amber
AleStone Pale Ale
Surly Brewing Co.’s Furious
And I mean that literally. I think this Kettlehouse Brewing Company take on a classic beer could be put in a barrel for a few years and come out aged like a fine wine. It’s so big and bold and with a huge ABV of 10 plus, that it should hold up beautifully to the aging process. It’s definitely an interesting beer now and worth popping in for one. I gotta warn you, if you plan to have more than one beer, don’t start with the saison. It’s so big, that it will be the only thing you taste all evening.
I love the big, grassy taste and biscuit flavors on the malt along with that slightly barnyard classic saison yeast characteristic in this beer. They’re big enough to stand up to the high ABV and provide their own statement on the beer.
There is a mid level astringency that comes through as either alcohol heat or perhaps something from the grains, which is why I think this beer is a perfect beer for aging. That astringency will completely disappear with time. Or it should. Much like the expansive Brick & Mortar Imperial Porter, the saison is a fun beer to drink in a snifter. Powerful green and grainy smells will fill your nose, and this is not a completely quaffable beer in the sense that you’d kill two or three in a session. No, this beer deserves serious consideration and some time along with you, the drinker.
I for one am looking forward to enjoying some of this beer next year and perhaps the year after that.