It’s rather fitting in Montana, actually. Big Sky Brewing Company’s Elephant Rock Imperial Saison is a Big Saison, and summer is a big season for people who’ve been limited by the cold and snow of winter. And just like everyone I know who goes big in summer, whether squeezing in 20 mile backpack trips into a weekend or climbing a multi pitch 5.11c. after work on Friday, Elephant Rock Imperial Saison goes big too. Really big in fact.
Head brewer Matt Long tells me it’s so big he’d like to put it in 750 ml bottles, but being on a summer brewing schedule, they just don’t have time. So it’s on tap out at the brewery, and I’m gonna guess you’ll be able to pick it up at places like Red Bird and possibly Cafe Dolce. Matt also tells me it’s brewed using the same yeast they used in their 406 Series saison that was out a few months ago. But this one packs a serious punch with an ABV around 11 percent. “It’s dangerous,” Long said. And he means it. A growler split between four friends was more than enough to satisfy this last weekend.
The overwhelming characteristic noticeable in this saison is the yeast characteristics. A hay like earthiness is evident with a lot of fruitiness, especially tropical dried fruits like mango and pineapple. The body is big, and the alcohol is nicely balanced with a decent malt profile that manages to not be too heavy. This light-looking beer is deceivingly light, but that alcohol packs a wallop if you don’t expect it. It will literally sneak up on you. Matt tells me it’s fermented down to 1 % residual sugar, so it finished dry, which adds to the notion that this is a much lighter beer than it is. So drink carefully.
The beer is named for Elephant Rock near Drummond.
You can find this one at the tap room, and it’s a premium fill at $10 with one taste available to patrons.
This is our third Big Sky Blue Canyon Beer Dinner, and I think it’s the best lineup so far. It takes time to dial in a good thing. The first year, the portions were out-0f-control. Larry Coffman, executive chef at Blue Canyon, does not do anything low key, and this includes planning an extraordinary beer dinner. I think everyone left that night totally impressed with the meal, if not a little stuffed. The second year saw some modifications, including a planning tasting where Larry would run off to the kitchen with the tasting notes from each beer style. He’d return a few minutes later with something amazing and totally appropriate to the beer. Portion sizes were large still, but the dinner was a little slower and ultimately completely satisfying.
This year promises new ingredients, including the latest revelation from Larry, Moose Drool bread with black garlic. There is some interesting ice cream/beer combinations and a fascinating play on Ivan the Terrible and Kahlua that you won’t want to miss.
Part of the value in this beer dinner is that over the last three years of working with Matt Long, head brewer at Big Sky, and Larry is that there is now a familiarity with the beer styles as well as Larry’s cooking style. This familiarity really highlights the flavors to a completely new level. If you have never considered that beer can be better than wine when paired with food, then you owe yourself a reservation for Friday night.
But let me give you some real reasons not to miss Friday’s amazing beer dinner:
5. You can count is as Valentines Day dinner
4. You’ve always wanted to try basil watermelon sorbet with beer
3. Because it’s Super Bowl weekend, and you’ve worked too hard not to celebrate like this
2. You’ve looked all around town, and you can’t find a better deal on a five-course meal
1. Larry Coffman’s food + Matt Long’s Big Sky beer = perfection
Here’s one more bonus reason:
Baby Greens Salad, Apple Cider Viniagrete, Dehydrated Apple Chips,
Spiced Pecan Crusted Amalethia Goat Cheese
Beer: Big Sky Powder Hound
Herb Grilled Sea Scallop, Caramelized Shallot Orange Glaze,
Beer: Big Sky Belgian Triple
Basil, Watermelon Sorbet
Crispy Seared Hutterite Duck Breast, Black Garlic Spaetzle,
Blackberry-Fig Balsamic Glaze
Beer: Big Sky Kriek
Braised Smoked Brisket, Crispy Widmer Cheddar Perogi, Port Demi
Beer: Big Sky Robust Porter
Milk Chocolate, Bavarian Mousse, Peanut Butter Bombe,
Khalua Creme Anglaise
Beer: Big Sky Ivan The Terrible
Cost ~$65 per person / $120 per couple + gratuity ~6:30 pm – In The Blue Canyon Bison Room ~Call 541-BLUE (2583) To Make Your Reservations Today! Limited Availability
This one is almost full folks, seriously, you should call today and sign up.
If you have never been to a Big Sky/Blue Canyon beer dinner, well, you haven’t lived. I’m just saying, there is living, and then there is LIVING. This, my fine friends, is LIVING. For the last two years, Big Sky Brewing Co., head brewer Matt Long and Blue Canyon master chef Larry Coffman have paired the legendary beers of Big Sky with the innovative culinary creations of Blue Canyon’s amazing kitchen.
It all starts with a tasting. Larry and Matt, along with myself and a few other attendees get together to try the beers and make notes on flavors and descriptions. As we discuss each beer, Larry disappears into the kitchen and returns with something inspired by the beer tasting. We review the food and the beer together to decide if indeed it is the perfect match, which it almost always is when Larry is in the kitchen. There is no better way to match beer and food than to simply try it and figure out what works and what doesn’t. As far as beer education goes, this is my favorite activity of the year.
So, to entice you to show up at Blue Canyon on Friday, February 5, I’m posting the menu here now. Call Blue Canyon to register today, because at this price, I think this year’s beer dinner will sell out faster than ever. 406.541-BLUE. Here’s what you’ll be getting.
Baby Greens Salad, Apple Cider Vinegar, Deydrated Apple Chips, Spiced Pecan Crusted Amalethia Goat Cheese
Herb Grilled Sea Scallop, Caramelized Shallot Orange Glaze, Tarragon Foam
Intermezzo: Basil, Watermelon Sorbet
Crispy Seared Hutterite Duck Breast, Black Garlic Spaetzle, Blackberry-Fig Balsamic Glaze
Braised Smoked (USDA Certified Prime) Brisket, Crispy Widmer Cheddar Perogie, Port Demi (braise Brisket in Porter)
Milk Chocolate, Bavarian Mousse, Peanut Butter Bombe, Khalua Crème Anglaise
Ivan the Terrible
Call today and set up your reservations for the Big Sky/Blue Canyon beer dinner. Ask for Larry Coffman or Jennifer Dervic. Cost is $55 per person.
I think back to those Muslim alchemists of yesteryear. The discoveries they made by mixing various elements to create the groundwork for what would become the science of chemistry. Alchemy though, was part science and part magic.
And on days like yesterday, I’m convinced that there still are a few alchemists out there. My friend Matt Long is one.
The Big Sky head brewer called me into his office during a recent visit and told me he wanted me to try something. Now many people know Matt for producing some of Montana’s most well-known beers in Moose Drool, Trout Slayer, Scape Goat and Summer Honey. What many don’t know is that Matt likes to tinker with some brilliant new brewing ideas.
Take his wine-barrel aged Belgian Tripel for instance. Blended magic is what I call it.
Well, Matt even dazzled our resident wine writer, Kate Murphy, who is admittedly anti beer, with his newest creation.
Toying around with some of his Smoove Cherry Ale, Matt stored some in Grand Cru wine barrel for a while. He bottled some off, then, down there in the dregs of the barrel, where cherries mingled with beer and red wine, he found a little gem of a drink. Bottled and stored for a while, Matt popped one open for us to try.
Like cherry brandy or maybe an appassimento-style wine like Amarone, the cherries come off like rich leather and dried fruit with a silky smokiness to them. The beer, which mingles way beyond its traditional characteristics into the world of big red wines, is one-of-a-kind, and for now, it’ll have to stay that way. Matt’s not producing enough to sell.
However, if I can convince him of his genius, maybe we can talk him into brewing a big batch that we can all get our hands on.
Matt also stored some Smoove Cherry Ale in a port cask from Lake Missoula Cellars. While much richer and with darker, heavier characteristics traditionally associated with the port, this beer definitely had it’s own merits. The consensus was that the Smoove Cherry Grand Cru was tops.
If you missed last year’s beer dinner at Blue Canyon, and I know you did, because I was there, you really need to check out this year’s dinner.
On (CORRECTION) Friday Jan. 23nd at 6:30 in Bison Room of Blue Canyon, chef Laurence Coffman and Big Sky head brewer Matt Long will take you on an epic culinary adventure themed around beer. What could be better? Chef Larry is skilled in the ways of marrying food and beer into rapturous moments of mouth joy. Just check out last year’s menu here.
And Matt Long brings years of passion and a helluva palate for craft beer to the table along with his amazing experience as a brewer who understands the most basic chemical principles of our beloved beverage.
Along his journey, Matt Long has picked up an affinity for trying interesting recipes and then blending one idea with another. Though he already makes a fantastic Belgian-style Tripel, Long decided to age some of it in wine barrels, both red and white. I don’t know if this will be served at the beer dinner, but you owe it to yourself to come and find out. Regardless of what they serve, it will be a unique and hard-to-find Big Sky beer or one of their fantastic and food-friendly staples.
The cost is $75, but you couldn’t buy a meal like this for less than $150, and you won’t be able to find most of this beer on area shelves.
This is expected to sell out fast, so call in and make reservations soon. 1(406) 541-BLUE (2583)
I’ll post the menu as soon as I get it.