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













Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Roundup for Montana Beer

Here's an admittedly hasty gathering of ghoulish Halloween specials at Montana's breweries, as they are known to exist today. If you know of something we've missed, please add them in the comments below!

MISSOULA
Kettlehouse Southside Taproom - Meet a couple of tennis stars who are working behind the bar today. Tell them that Montana Beer Finder is a big fan!
Sharapova and Williams, left to right
Kettlehouse Northside - Kick off the Halloween party at Northside Kettlehouse with live music from Hardwood Heart, Caramel Apple Cold Smoke® Scotch Ale, and a costume contest. 6 PM

Imagine Nation Brewing Co. - Try your hand at pairing beer with Halloween candy. Snickers, Candy Corn, and Hot Tamales will be on hand to sample with their lineup of beers. Live music at 6 PM.

Draught Works - Come in costume and they will buy your first pint! Bring the kids for free candy and soda! Be there at 7 PM sharp for our costume contest! Categories: Scariest, Classic, Topical, Couple's, Best in Show - 1st 4 get glass growler+fill, Best in Show gets a 50/50 growler!

Missoula Brewing Co. - First beer $1 if your in costume. Great prizes for a costume contest. $1 Pumpkin beers ALL weekend. John Floridis TONIGHT!

Bitterroot Valley
Lolo Peak Brewing - They release the Flying Gourd Pumpkin Ale at 5:00 PM at the LPB Halloween Party.

Bitter Root Brewery - This Halloween KIDS EAT FREE! If you're looking to fuel up your little ghosts and goblins before you take them out trick-or-treating, then the Brewery is your place. Purchase an adult meal and get an item off of our kids menu for free from 4pm to close this Saturday! If you're sans children this Halloween, we've got you taken care of too. All growler fills are $1 off on Halloween and all beers will be $1 off from 4pm to 6pm.

Great Falls
Bowser Brewing Co. - Special beer release. The Nos was originally brewed by Dennis for Halloween 1990 in Cleveland OH while brewing at Great Lakes Brewing. We like to continue that tradition by serving a cask version for Halloween.

Butte
Muddy Creek Brewing - Come to Muddy Creek Brewery on Halloween for a fun-filled night of drink-specials, costume contests, trivia contests, games, prizes, creepy music and ghost stories featuring uptown Butte locales. Come try the award-winning Jack Smashed Pumpkin Ale and just see if you can survive the night at Muddy Creek Brewery.

Kalispell
Kalispell Brewing Co. - Happy Halloween! Celebrate the spooky and spectacular with us. Live music at 5:00pm with Moonshine Mountain, costume contest at 7:00pm, plus candy and fun times!
Courtesy Kalispell Brewing Co. Facebook page
Billings
Montana Brewing Co. (see below)


Friday, October 23, 2015

The Last Best Beer Show: Montana’s Only Craft Beer Radio Program


On the night of the MBA Fall Brewers Festival, I debuted my new radio show, The Last Best Beer Show, on Newstalk KGVO 1290 AM and 101.5 FM. The show airs Fridays at 10 PM and again on Saturday at 7 PM.

The aim of the show is to highlight what’s new in and around Missoula in terms of beer and beer-centered events. Each week features an in-depth interview with the movers, shakers, and creators of the Montana craft beer industry. We discuss the national beer scene, and one of my favorite segments is all about beer and food.

Anyone can listen to The Last Best Beer Show, even if you can’t tune in. The show is streamed live at NewstalkKGVO.com and archived, both on this blog and the station’s website.

If you have suggestions for future episodes, leave a comment below.

Of course, this show wouldn’t be possible without my sponsors. Thank them for me the next time you’re at their business!
If you missed last week's show, listen below:

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