Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2nd Whitewater Beer Tasting on Alberton Gorge

Montana Brewery Tours is hosting its 2nd annual Whitewater Beer Tasting this Saturday on the Alberton Gorge. Complete with Class III whitewater fun, transportation, and appetizers paired with Draught Works beers, it's sure the be a wild and wet time.

The event is $99 per person and already nearly sold out. Meeting time is noon, and the return is scheduled for 7 p.m. Book at MTBREWTOURS.COM or by calling 406.544.6864.

If you want to see the good times had last year, check out these pics, courtesy Montana Brewery Tours' Facebook.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 Beer Bloggers Conference in Asheville NC

July 18-20, 2015 | Asheville NC | Zephyr Adventures just wrapped up its 2015 Beer Bloggers Conference in the comforting Appalachian hills of western North Carolina and home to Beer City USA. If you haven't been, Asheville is certainly a beer-loving destination that likely impressed most of the sold-out beer blogging conference. Self included. With 22 breweries in the city, 42 in western North Carolina, and 250 independent restaurants (via ExploreAsheville.com).

Of the many highlights was the opportunity to meet and converse with leaders in the craft beer industry. I met the head brewer for Oskar Blues NC, Ken Grossman and son of Sierra Nevada Brewing, New Belgium's CEO Kim Jordan, and Dick Cantwell, formerly of Elysian Brewing Co. Mr. Cantwell told me, "it was a very tough year," as we chatted about the buyout. And then we joked about the fact that Budweiser had just presented at the conference, and he said, "You mean they fussed over their own beer!?" 

Perhaps even more enriching was the time spent with old and new friends who get as excited for good beer as I do. Special shouts out go to Alan McCormick of Growler Fills, Megan Cleworth of Craft Central Beer, Nate and Ty of Brewrasa (go buy their backpack right now), Julia Herz from the Brewers Association (I will rematch you in table tennis any time and place!), Meghan Storey of CraftBeer.com, Oliver Gray from Literature and Libation, and Bryan Roth of This is Why I'm Drunk
BrewRasa, left, author center, Julia Herzes, right
There were many great takeaways from the conference, for which you can find the agenda here, but from my notes I leave you this synopsis. 

Why do people choose craft beer? The top two reasons are flavor and freshness, with 47% choosing it for the alcohol. And what about those date codes on the bottles and packaging? Just over 1/3 of beer drinkers rely on those codes to determine their purchase.

Are we there yet? Last year over 600 breweries opened and only 46 closed. Currently, 1.5 breweries open every day in the U.S. (Note: The Missoula Brewing Company just opened this week in Montana, as did White Dog Brewing in Bozeman!) The next time someone asks if we have enough breweries in town, I'll respond, "Do we have enough restaurants?" As long as each brewery is differentiating itself and striving to make a word-class product, there's plenty of room in the pool.

You talking about jobs? The brewing industry alone is responsible for 115,000 jobs in the U.S.

The first side trip during the conference was to the Oskar Blues Brewing facility in Brevard, NC. This facility opened in 2012, mashes in every 2 1/2 hours, and can can 300 beers a minute.

Next we toured the "Disney World" of craft beer, Sierra Nevada's new NC brewery, a state-of-the-art craft brewery that prides itself on its sustainability practices as much as its great beer. We were the first in the US to try Sierra Nevada's Oktoberfest collaboration Brauhaus Riegele and its brewmaster from Augsburg, Germany.

The rest of the conference was filled with information that will ultimately make this blog better, along with the many of the other 1,000 citizen beer blogs in the U.S.

But there was also beer, and plenty of it. I had some great ones, and some bad ones. I'd like to call out a couple of my favorites, a beet beer from Innovation Brewing (yes, the one being sued by Bell's Brewing), and everything from Burial Brewing Co. (interestingly, one of their owners is a lawyer representing Innovation Brewing in the lawsuit).

I also tried many great beers during the Night of Many Bottles, an enormous bottle share where the 150 bloggers brought their hometown favorites. I brought a couple Crowler from Kettlehouse Brewing Co. (thanks Zeb and Ryan), as well as Bitter Root Brewing, Lewis and Clark, and The Front.
Next year the conference will take place in Tampa, Florida (near Cigar City Brewing). Please contact me if you'd like your Montana beer brought down and shared.

In closing, I am giving a "heads up" to my readers that I plan to broaden the reach of this blog, tackle things that stretch beyond Montana on occasion, give even more space to the great things Montana beer is doing, and go "off topic" on some things a bit more personal. I hope you stick with me for it all!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Montana Brewery You Might Not Know: Dunluce Brewing

Dunluce Brewing
I admit it, I just didn't know. I wrote a book about beer, and have printed and sold thousands of copies of the Montana Brewery Passport, but out in Superior, Montana, there has been a nano-brewery in operation since summer 2014, and I just didn't know until last week.

Dunluce Brewing ("done loose") is owned and operated by Adam Hauge, who lives in Liberty Lake, Washington, but travels over at least once a week to brew on his 1/2 barrel brew system, which is currently only sold at the Four Aces Bar in Superior.

"My wife's family is from the area, so it's nice to be connected to the area," says Hauge. The brewery's motto is: Family, Farm, Fermented.

It was during a trip to Ireland and Italy in 2012 that the couple, Lauren and Adam, first thought about combining family farming and brewing. Adam's family farm grows barley in central Montana, and Lauren's family farm in Superior has hops and spices.

In addition to selling its beers through Four Aces Bar, Dunluce Brewing is available for special order kegs for weddings. Just this week Dunluce Brewing began offering branded growlers and growler fills through Four Aces, and the bar will also serve as the official Montana Brewery Passport stamping location since the brewery does not operate a tasting room.

Hauge brews six different core beers, plus some seasonals. Here are the mainstays:

Dun Deal
Porter brewed with chocolate and black patent malts. (Occasionally brewed with peppers or pumpkin.)

Dun Right
Inspired by classic style German Pilsners, brewed to be crisp, refreshing and spicy. (Occasionally brewed with smoked grain or ginger.)

Screw Luce
IPA brewed for hop enthusiasts with almost triple the amount of hops as our other beers and a malty base for balance.

Foot Luce
Dill Pale Ale brewed to incorporate Adam's favorite spice.

Dun 'n' Done
Amber brewed with beets and citrus hops for a malty, yet refreshing flavor.

Superior Suds

Single hop Pale Ale brewed with the patrons of the Four Aces bar in Superior, MT in mind.

Next time you're heading by Superior, stop in and say hi to Ronna at Four Aces Bar and ask for a pint or growler of Dunluce beer, and tell her that Montana Beer Finder sent you. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Inaugural Kalispell Beer and Wine Open

Courtesy www.kalispellbeerandwineopen.wordpress.com
Today and tomorrow marks the first Kalispell Beer and Wine Open, part brewfest/winefest and part homebrew competition. Over 30 breweries, wineries, and distilleries will set up at the Kalispell Fairgrounds, starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday. (Full list of participants here)

From the website:
This festival will become a beacon for all those eager young brewers, wine makers as well as industry professionals to look forward to every year for the opportunity to display what they know, have learned and can teach to others.  We are confident that the Kalispell Beer and Wine Open will continue to gain both recognition and momentum each and every year with community support.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Craft Beer Dinner at The Top Hat


You will be sad if you miss this incredible beer dinner tomorrow night. Don't be sad. 

On Wednesday, May 20 at 7PM, the Top Hat will host a Craft Beer Dinner featuring California breweries Lagunitas Brewing Co , Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and Green Flash Brewing Co.

Tickets: http://ticketf.ly/1FisoDe

The dinner will include seven courses from the soon-to-be-released Top Hat Spring Menu paired with beers from the three Breweries and live music by Dan Dubuque.

As part of the dinner, Erin Crobar, Top Hat Chef and the brewers will explain the beer, the food and the thoughts behind the pairing.

The seven-course dinner, seven beer tastings and the music will be a ticketed event with a ticket price of $40 per person. The dinner is intended to be a social event, with tables of 10 where attendees will enjoy dinner “family style” with other Missoulians.

Tickets are available at The Top Hat and http://ticketf.ly/1FisoDe. The last two beer pairing at the Top Hat sold out, so we recommend you purchase tickets early.

Spring 2015 Craft Beer Dinner Pairing Menu
Plantain Chips w/spicy mango salsa w/ Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’
Wisconsin Cheddar Burger Slider w/ Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Chicken & Waffle w/ Maple Rosemary Butter w/ Ovila Abbey Quad w/ Plums
Jamaican Jerk seasoned Pork Belly w/ warm pineapple salsa w/ Lagunitas Under Cover Shut-Down Ale
Bacon – wrapped Jalapenos w/ Smoked Tomato Cream Cheese w/ Green Flash West Coast IPA
Bacon – wrapped Dates w/ Stilton w/ Green Flash Double Stout Black Ale

Bernice’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes w/ Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA
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