If you’re like me, then you love baseball. And if you’re also like me, then you love drinking beer at baseball games. Problem is, usually what’s available is a Big Gulp-sized Bud Light for $14.
In Missoula, the Osprey have a pretty good selection of craft beer: Big Sky Brewing’s Summer Honey and IPA, Kettlehouse Brewing’s Cold Smoke, Eddy Out or Double Haul (it rotates) and Bayern Brewing’s Dump Truck and Dragon’s Breath. At least those were the beers available last week.
Unfortunately, while we do have the Osprey, there isn’t a major league team within about 500 miles. But if you find yourself catching a game at some point over the rest of the summer, check out CraftBeer.com’s Major League Baseball craft beer guide. It lists most of the craft beers available at major league parks. I say most because the comments seem to show the list isn’t complete. Plus, the Cubs and the Blue Jays are missing.
Judging by the list, it looks the the Pirates have about the best beer selection in majors. Surprising? Maybe. But not anymore than their season this year.
- Matt Pritchard
Stops included Great Northern, Flathead Lake Brewing, Tamarack, Glacier Brewing, Big Sky and Kettlehouse. The story does a nice job of showing off the awesomeness that is our craft-beer scene from an outsider’s perspective.
And speaking of Kettlehouse, that sounds great right about … now.
Happy weekend, everyone.
- Matt Pritchard
It may seem counter-intuitive, but more craft breweries are finding themselves pulling out of markets in order to feed their local, and growing, base.
Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland is one that’s seen its local demand boom and thus has curtailed distribution to 13 states. The moves help to save on shipping costs and also allow breweries to keep beer available to local customers. Good if you live near your favorite brewery, bad if you don’t. Read the full story by David Dishneau of the Associated Press after the jump.
Today marks the start of the sixth year of American Craft Beer Week with events all over the country celebrating one of our best products. Blackfoot Brewing Co. is one the breweries going all out with special offerings throughout the week. Cheers to another reason to enjoy your favorite ales and lagers. Here’s a video to get you started:
- Matt Pritchard
Just saw this article while cruising the McClatchy-Tribune news wire and I have to say, I’m a little sad. While I’ve only had one of Goose Island’s beers (they distribute on limited basis in Montana), I have friends in Chicago that love it. I don’t like to see big beer companies swallow up smaller ones, for fear that it could stifle innovation (i.e. Beer Wars). However, I can understand where Goose Island’s coming from, I guess. Full story after the jump. (more…)
The Billings Gazette has a great piece on the early history of brewing in Billings and the rest of Montana, filled with interesting tidbits. I find it fascinating that at one point, there were around 60 breweries in the state. There’s still some work to do to get back to that point, but at least it’s shifting that way. (more…)
Here’s a trailer for the upcoming documentary “Beer Culture,” which is set in Colorado and due out this summer. The film “explains the cultural phenomenon behind the growth of craft beer, telling it through the stories of struggles and successes of some top brewers in Colorado, including New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Avery Brewing Company, Tommyknocker, Upslope” and others.
Here’s the Missoulian editorial board’s take on the legislative draft bill that aims to shift the hours that taprooms are allowed to serve beer, from the current 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to noon-10 p.m.:
For a brewer, it makes a lot more sense to start serving beer at noon and stop at 10 p.m. than to start at 10 a.m. and stop at 8 p.m. Really, who’s in the mood for a brew at 10 in the morning?
That’s the simple reasoning behind a common-sense legislative push to allow Montana brewers to shift their taproom hours a couple of hours later into the evening. The draft bill being sponsored by state Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, and supported by the Montana Brewers Association would move the taproom opening and closing times back so that breweries could keep more reasonable customer hours. It would not, however, expand the hours a taproom could be open to the public.
Taprooms have their own hours and their own set of regulations, apart from taverns or bars. Bars, for instance, may not only serve beer, but also hard alcohol, until 2 a.m. Unlike taverns, licensed tasting rooms may only serve 48 ounces per person of the brewery’s own product: beer, which is required by definition, by law, to contain less than 8.7 percent alcohol by volume (14 percent by weight) 14 percent alcohol by volume. As such, their offerings are more limited than bars.
Nevertheless, taprooms have a devoted client base of craft beer lovers, and their commerce helps support 27 microbreweries in Montana. Missoula alone boasts four brewing businesses and five taprooms, with more reportedly on the way.
According to an online petition from the Montana Brewers Association, “(S)hifting Montana brewery tap room serving hours to noon-10 p.m. makes sense because it:
• Shifts, but does not increase, tap room serving hours.
• Meets the expectations of Montanans and the visiting public and tourists.
• Provides for growth in the use of Montana-grown agricultural products.
• Creates jobs at Montana breweries.
• Enables reinvestment in brewing capacity at Montana breweries.
• Lifts unneeded restrictions that inhibit industry growth.
• Supports free enterprise concepts in the marketplace.
• Better fits with many Montana worker’s schedules, who work past 7 or 8 p.m.
• Aligns better with other regional state’s laws, which have no hours restrictions.
• Helps Montana small businesses grow jobs and make investments.
• Supports a viable, growing, and responsible industry in the state.
• Aligns with winery laws, which have no serving hours restrictions.”
Those are indeed all good reasons to support this legislative measure, which is perhaps why some 700 people have already signed it.
Montana’s elected leaders should take note of this opportunity to enact reasonable legislation that would encourage a promising industry.
Sen. Ryan Zinke, R-Whitefish, will sponsor several bills related to the Montana craft-beer industry in the upcoming Legislature, which convenes on Jan. 3.
The first is a proposal to shift the hours that taprooms are allowed to be open from the current 10 a.m.-8 p.m. to noon-10 p.m. The Montana Brewers Association has a petition up on its website that has gathered more than 650 signatures in the past month. Tony Herbert, executive director of the Montana Brewers Association, stresses that this is a shift in hours, not an expansion of hours. Zinke, in a telephone call, said that historically there has been hesitation by the Tavern Association on the issue because members have a hefty investment in their businesses and don’t want to see others cut into it. But the senator points out that breweries have a different business model and they, too, have a large investment. This shift in hours will only help Montana businesses, he said.
The second piece of legislation is in regards to filling growlers at taverns that hold all-beverage licenses. Bill Schneider of NewWest.net wrote a detailed article on the issue in September. Basically, according the article, the Montana Department of Revenue last April sent out a memo to tavern owners about a proposed rule to clarify a law about serving alcohol for off-site consumption. The plan, as it was worded, would make it illegal for taverns with all-beverage licenses to fill growlers. After the proposal was sent out, brewers asked Herbert to step in and the Department of Revenue agreed to drop the rule and let the 2011 Legislature sort it out. Zinke’s bill looks to clear up any legal gray areas so places such as The Rhino in Missoula can continue to fill growlers with no problems.
Finally a third bill, which is still in the works, looks to promote out-of-state sales of craft beer with the Made in Montana Brewery Act. Hopes are it could lift some restrictions on the amount of beer breweries are allowed to sell outside Montana, while still being able to serve pints in their taprooms. Zinke said the legislation would help expand the industry, create more jobs and allow brewers to use more local materials.
“My vision is creating world-class local and regional beers that are made in Montana using Montana ingredients,” Zinke said in an e-mail. “In the world of political fighting and gridlock, who could be against better beer? Even Ben Franklin recognized that good beer makes good policy.”
These bills are still being prepared, so they could be changed as they work their way through the legislative process.
- Matt Pritchard
You’ve probably seen the commercial or at least heard about this, but if not here’s another reminder. The Discovery Channel is launching “Brew Masters” on Nov. 21, following Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery founder Sam Calagione.
Craft beer joins the ranks of Alaskan crab … looks promising.
- Matt Pritchard
UPDATE: Associated Press TV writer David Bauder has more on the new show. (more…)