Tuesday, August 1, 2017

BeerMuda Triangle Debut! Watch the New TV Show about Montana Beer and Adventure


BeerMuda Triangle aired on KPAX July 30 at 4 p.m. and the cast and crew had a great time at a viewing party at The Dram Shop.

This new venture, created by Kelley Bigelow at Brand Edge Marketing and produced by Gravity Media Productions, brings Montana’s diverse and exciting craft beer scene to life while adding a good dose of unique adventures. I am fortunate to co-host with the talented Laurie Rowley.


The premise of this half-hour show is to create a triangle of beer and adventure, visiting three different breweries and doing three different activities along the way.

Episode 1 started in Philipsburg, touring both of the Philipsburg Brewing Company breweries, having lunch at the Sunshine Station, and mining for sapphires at Gem Mountain. Then the cast went up and over Skalkaho Pass, with a stop at the waterfall, before driving up the Bitterroot Valley for some volleyball and beers at Lolo Peak Brewing Co. After that we tried our hands (and feet) at river surfing at Brennan’s Wave in Missoula before catching up with our friend, Kate Bernot, beer editor at DRAFT magazine, at Kettlehouse Brewing Company (Northside).

The next planned episode will highlight Oktoberfest celebrations, as well as Montana’s newest brewery, Smelter City Brewing in Anaconda. So stay tuned!

If you missed the show, no worries, you can view it right here via YouTube.


Future air dates for Episode 1:
  • Helena KXLH 4pm August 6, 2017
  • Butte/Bozeman KTVM 4pm August 20, 2017
BeerMuda Triangle would not be possible without the support of its sponsors: First Montana Bank, Lithia Ford of Missoula, Rangitsch Brothers LLC, Gem Mountain, and Sunshine Station. Website design by Design Missoula.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Taste 2017 - Montana Food Bank Fundraiser

The Taste is returning for seconds on March 3, 2017 at Neptune Aviation in Missoula. It's one of the three fundraisers the Montana Food Bank Network organizes annually, and only the second year for The Taste. I was fortunate to attend the event last year and can say it's about as tasty as any event in Montana.

Guests will enjoy over 100 different tastes of deliciously crafted food and drink from over 30 local restaurants, chefs, caterers, breweries, distilleries, wineries and other unique establishments.

Read the description for the Facebook Event:

Establishments providing food tastes include; Good Food Store Missoula, Missoula College Culinary Arts Program, Taste Buds Kitchen Missoula, Sweet Peaks Ice Cream Missoula, The Notorious PIG BBQ, Bravo! Catering, Lolo Peak Brewing Company, Burns St. Bistro, The Resort at Paws Up, The Olde Dairy / The Trough, Orange Street Food Farm, Moxie Nosh, and Green Source Missoula

Drink tastes will be provided by; Bayern Brewing Inc., Katabatic Brewing Company, Wildwood Brewing, Lolo Peak Brewing Company, Great Burn Brewing, Draught Works Brewery, Flathead Lake Brewing Co., Philipsburg Brewing Company, The Highlander Taphouse- Missoula Brewing Company, The Montana Distillery, Whistling Andy Distilling, Rattlesnake Creek Distillers, Spotted Bear Spirits, Headframe Spirits, Montgomery Distillery, Backroad Cider, Mission Mountain Winery, Ten Spoon Vineyard + Winery, Missoula Winery and Event Center and The Dog and Bicycle Bakery Cafe

Voting for the Tastiest Taste Awards will be open to all who attend. Categories for the awards include Tastiest food, Tastiest treat, Tastiest beer, Tastiest cocktail and Tastiest wine. Winners of the Tastiest Taste Awards will be announced at the end of the evening.

A silent auction and everybody wins! raffle will have someone for everyone! Baskets, gift cards and other items have been generously donated by Logjam Productions, Southgate Mall, Wingate Missoula MT, Taste Buds Kitchen, Lolo Peak Brewery, Great Burn Brewery, Philipsburg Brewery, Mission Mountain Winery, Good Food Store, Ten Spoon Winery, Bayern brewery, Montana Distillery, Whistling Andy’s Distillery, Rattlesnake Creek Distillers, Missoula Winery and Southgate Mall.

Live music will be performed by local musician Melissa Forrette Music Official.

All proceeds from The Taste will go to support the programs and mission of the Montana Food Bank Network. MFBN works statewide with 150 partner food banks, pantries, homeless shelters, and local youth and community programs. By purchasing a ticket to The Taste. MFBN can provide the same amount of food that would cost $225 in a grocery store.


The work the MFBN does is astounding. As I toured the facility today, I learned that the organization works with 140 partner organizations throughout Montana, from food banks to Boy & Girls Clubs, and any other organization that has a need for food.

The MFBN has spearheaded some excellent programs, including a Grocery Store Rescue program that salvages perishable food items from 60 grocery stores around Montana that would otherwise be thrown away (think produce and breads in particular). Last year alone the group saved 5 million pounds of food from Montana stores and got it to people who needed it.

With the help of the Montana FWP, Hunters Against Hunger helps provide fresh game to those in need. In the last three years the program has operated, over 100,000 pounds of fresh game has been donated from hunters.

The MFBN also runs the Mail-a-Meal program, packing banana boxes with 50 pounds of food and drop shipping them to "food deserts" in the state to people's doorsteps. These "deserts" are homes that are 40 or more miles away from the closest gas station, so foods don't always come easy.

Last year, the Montana Food Bank Network was able to provide 10 million pounds of food for Montanans, and donations to the organization go a long way. For every dollar the MFBN receives, it can turn that into $5 worth of food from a store.

So who's with me in supporting the MFBN this Friday at The Taste? But hurry, there aren't many tickets remaining. You can get them here (or they are $10 more at the door).

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Lucky's Market Brings Beer and Groceries to Missoula


Southgate Mall in Missoula, Montana, is in the midst of a $64 million renovation that will include an upgrade to its current 1970s facade. The revitalization includes a new theater that includes dinner tables, so dinner and a movie happens at the same time.

But the announcement this week is that Lucky's Market will take over the former Sears location on the Brooks St. side of Southgate Mall. The new 32,000 square foot store will employ about 150 people.

The grocery will have an in-house butcher who will serve meats that have never been treated with antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. Customers will also find a department with ready-to-eat meals made daily, such as grab-and-go sushi and a cheese island stocked with products from all over the world. There will also be a juice bar, a café area with coffee, bulk foods, an apothecary department, and a beer and wine department.

But beyond buying beer to take home, Lucky's Market will sell beer and wine for shoppers to sip while picking out dinner. Yes, a "sip 'n shop" experience is coming to Missoula. Lucky's is new to Missoula, but not new to Montana. There's already a Lucky's Market in Billings.

According to a press release distributed by Southgate Mall, customers can grab a $2 pint of local beer or a $3 glass of wine to “enhance the shopping experience.”

Lucky's Market is set to open mid-2018.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2017: New Year, New Stories, New Beers!

Hoppy New Beer...er, Happy New Year! My resolution is to provide lots of great, timely beer stories to you, my dear readers, in 2017. There is no shortage of excellent topics to cover that highlight Montana beer: new breweries, new cans, bigger breweries making more beer, and (unfortunately) breweries that are going through some unplanned changes.

So stay tuned to the fresh, revived Montana Beer Finder of 2017!

CHEERS!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Community Socializing and Fussing Over Craft Beer Returns to Columbia Falls


   Montana's 65th brewery of the modern era, Backslope Brewing, has finally opened in Columbia Falls.  A couple of years ago we had a brewery, but alas, it was short lived and many dreams were dashed and hearts broken.  I'm not here to lament over that, but rather to sing the praises of Darin and Carla Fisher's dream of opening a new brewery in Columbia Falls, which in turn, has become a dream come true of many of the residences of the area.

  Backslope Brewing fills a need that many local beer lovers have; the need and desire to make the act of enjoying a pint of craft beer a social and communal affair.  The decision not to outfit the place with televisions was a good move, as the absence of such distractions fosters an environment of talking to your neighbor vs. staring mindlessly at something as mind sucking as a television.  At no other place do I feel more comfortable striking up a conversation with a complete stranger than I do at a craft brewery.  It's a low/no pressure atmosphere and everyone is there for the same reason...to enjoy and fuss over a well crafted, locally made, craft beer.  When I belly up to the bar it doesn't seem to matter who is seated next to me, they are always more than receptive in engaging me over the finer points of the beer they are enjoying, are curious as to what I'm drinking and my opinion of it, and if I have any recommendations.  

 The bottom line is, going to a craft brewery and enjoying the fruits of the brewmeister's labor is a social event, not a let's go to a brewery and get drunk event.  Seriously, when was the last time you saw a fight break out in a craft brewery between two intoxicated individuals?  When was the last time you witnessed someone in the bathroom praying to the porcelain goddess, because they were drunk off their ass?  I suppose it happens, but I'm proud to say that I, personally, have never seen this at a craft brewery.

    Darin and Carla are fostering the former rather than the later with the gem of a brewery that they have created here in Columbia Falls.  With its open floor plan and abundance of tables, by Montana craft brewery standards, I would label the tasting room space as medium sized.  The bar top is made from an old growth log that had been laying on the bottom of Flathead Lake for the past 100 years.  The bar's base is wrapped in corrugated, galvanized steel that was reclaimed from an old barn being torn down near Great Falls.  The tasting room space itself surrounds you in warm earth tones with its dark wood flooring, medium to light colored walls and table tops made of non-stained slats of wood, lacquered, and wrapped in wrought iron.  Large windows in the tasting room give you a direct view of the brewing facility where you can see the brewing magic happening.  When the weather gets warmer you will be able sit outside under a covered patio while enjoying your tasty adult beverage as you take in the sights of the beautiful Swan Mountains to the east.  Last, but certainly not least, Backslope had the wisdom and foresight to put in a kitchen!  Good move!  Not satisfied with appeasing you with the usual humdrum pub grub, Darin and Carla have enlisted the services of the food artisans of Columbia Falls' Palette Cafe, masters of all things delectable.  Great choice! 

  All in all, a very cozy, relaxing space that through color and choice of construction materials creates a low key, chill, atmosphere that exceeded all of my expectations.  If I could change one thing about Backslope though, it would be that they add a communal table.  The place fills up quickly and completely during peak hours and the addition of a communal table would force complete strangers to sit together and when complete strangers sit together, complete strangers they are no more.

    Jeffrey von Kiper













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