Saturday, August 30, 2014

4th Annual Montana Mucker Mud Run September 6

It’s back, it’s muddy, it benefits CASA of Missoula, and it’s sponsored in part by Big Sky Brewing Company. It’s also called an “annual ooey, gooey fundraiser.” The 4th Annual Montana Mucker will get down and dirty on Saturday September 6, 2014 at the Missoula County Fairgrounds. Participants will set off in waves of 200 every 20 minutes, starting at 8:30 a.m.

Never been in a mud run? It looks something like this…
The 5k course includes 24 different challenges, and a moderate level of fitness should suffice for most participants. Those running the course can expect to commando-style rope climbs, hurdles, cargo net climbs, slippery slopes, and lots and lots and lots of mud.

The dress code? Well, that’s up to you. Get funky, get wild, get crazy, or get beery. Water is available at the start/finish, and Big Sky Brewing will have beer available for purchase as well. Although there is a customary “mid-race brewski” on the course, which we imagine will be courtesy Big Sky Brewing.


For the junior muckers out there, a kid-sized version of the race, a.k.a. the Mighty Mucker, will start around 3:00 p.m., restricted to kids six through 12, accompanied by a parent.

It deserves mention that the Montana Mucker is not the other mud race also going on in Missoula the same day. That other race did support CASA of Missoula for its first couple years, but according to CASA of Missoula director, Kristen Vorreyer (as told to the Missoulian), “We were partnered with the Dirty Dash for a couple of years, but we wanted to keep local, and with the Montana Mucker we could do that.”

The Montana Mucker is organized by Big Sky Organic Racing and Events, which is based in Missoula. Other sponsors of the race include presenting sponsor Bob Ward’s, as well as Montana Headwall, Missoula Independent, along with several other businesses and organizations.

Registration for the Montana Mucker is $50 through August 31, then goes to $60 from September 1-6. A “substantial portion” of registrations will go to CASA of Missoula. Find out what you get with your registration on their FAQ. Over 1,000 people have raced in the past , and organizers are planning for 2,000 racers this year.

Want to go? Want to save some money?? All you have to do is leave a comment below thanking your favorite sponsor of the Montana Mucker and send me a message via the contact form or on Facebook and I’ll send you a special discount code, which I’m told gets you $15 off your registration!

JOIN MY TEAM! I’m running at 10:30 a.m. under the team name MONTANA BEER FINDERS. All my team members get a free Montana Beer Finder sticker! WOOT! 

Disclaimer: I was gifted a registration to the Montana Mucker by a sponsor. If you want to run with me, I welcome the company! As stated earlier, I’m running the 10:30 a.m. heat under team name, Montana Beer Finders. Join me!
Ryan Newhouse (right), having run his first mud race in 2012.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Great Burn Brewing Opens in Missoula

Great Burn Brewing in Missoula
Great Burn Brewing, Montana's 47th brewery and Missoula's 5th*, is opening its doors to the public at 3 p.m. on Friday August 29, 2014 at 2330 McDonald Ave. A few of us (and mostly their Mug Clubbers) got a sneak peek last night, along with the chance to sip on their initial line up of beers. Which include:

  • Church Picnic Cream Ale
  • Pale Ale
  • Smoke Chaser Porter (smoked malts)
  • Black Burn Black IPA
  • Belgian Golden
  • Citra IPA
  • Double IPA
Great Burn Brewing in Missoula
Tap list at Great Burn Brewing
Co-owners Greg and Mike Howard (along with Greg's wife, Diana Garret, another partner, Jenny) had always planned to open a brewery with their other brother, Chad, but he passed away in 2009 from brain cancer before that dream could come to fruition. Chad worked as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter with the Lolo Hotshots and Krassel Helitack Crew in Idaho. 

The name of the brewery, Great Burn, is in honor of where Chad fought his first fires. The Howards keep a large picture of their brother in the brewhouse, "so he's always with us," says Mike Howard. 

Mike Howard is the head brewer, and he comes home to Missoula with exceptional brewing experience. He worked at Stone Brewing Co. with Mitch Steele, opened Blacksmith Brewing Co., and worked at Kettlehouse and Bayern Brewing, among others. 

"I call it the 'Frankensystem'," says Mike, and that it is. It is a five-barrel brewhouse with three converted dairy tanks, and parts and pieces that could easily be likened to a trip down Montana brewing history lane. One piece came from Wibaux's Beaver Creek Brewery, which before that came from Milestown Brewing Co. (once owned by Draught Works owner, Jeff Grant's, father), and the brite tank and serving tanks come via Kettlehouse's original system. The custom-built grain mill is operated by a hand drill, which "can mill about 200-300 pounds of grain in 20 minutes," says Mike. 

The total cost Great Burn Brewing spent on its brew system...$40,000.
Great Burn Brewing in MissoulaGreat Burn Brewing in Missoula
Great Burn Brewing in MissoulaGreat Burn Brewing in Missoula
When you get the chance, get down to Great Burn Brewing and taste for yourself Montana's newest craft beers. And raise one in Chad's honor. 

Prost!

*If you count Kettlehouse as two breweries, that would make Great Burn Brewing Missoula's 6th.





Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Weekend in Montana...It's Pretty Much Beer

Montana has a couple of excellent beer events happening this weekend. If you're nearby, check them out.

Helena's 150th Birthday Brewfest (Saturday August 16)
The Montana Brewers Association is organizing a special brewfest in Helena at Memorial Park in honor of its 150th birthday this year. 22 MBA-member breweries will be pouring 77 Montana-made craft beers, all the while imbibing on local music and a festive community crowd.

Party starts at 4:00 p.m., with advance tickets running $20. That gets you a 9-oz. tasting glass. There's a VIP early-entry option available too. Food vendors will be on hand for dinner/snacks.

SEE THE FULL LIST OF BEERS HERE!


14th Annual Gardiner Brewfest (Saturday August 16)
Supposedly you could call this the "mile high" brewfest, given that Gardiner, Montana, officially sits at 5,280 feet in elevation. This popular brewfest is back for its 14th year, and it's again held in Arch Park. Organized by the Gardiner Chamber of Commerce, the beers get pouring at 2:00 p.m. and goes till dusk.

Entry for those 21 and older who want to drink is $25, which gets you a commemorative pint glass and bottomless "tastes."

SEE PAST PICS HERE!

P.S. Helena's elevation is 3,875 feet.

***************
This just in! We can't forget the Philipsburg Summer Concert, Auction and Brewfest! Also Saturday August 16, 2014, enjoy beers by Philipsburg Brewing Co. and 12 other brands. It will be held at the Winninghoff Park Amphitheater. Thanks Summer Sun Garden and Brew for the heads up!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Unofficially Montana Ranks #2 in Breweries Per Capita

Just because every Monday needs a little math, and I just had the pleasure of visiting Montana's 45th brewery, I got curious and did a little calculating. Montana has been teetering back and forth with our distant neighbor to the west, Oregon, with who ranks right behind Vermont (#1) in breweries-per-capita. What I discovered, unofficially, is that we just overtook Oregon to become #2.

We were number two back in 2011, but today the Brewer's Association ranks Montana #3 (based on 2013 metrics). Since I had not the patience to wait until the end of 2014, I wanted to see where we were today. Here's what I found:

Using the same data at the Brewers Association, which is assigning the "capita" as those 21 and older in the state (since we're dealing with alcohol), the three states have the following populations of drinking-age individuals (taken from SuburbanStats.org, 2013 and 2014 data):

Vermont: 453,381
Montana: 706,307
Oregon: 2,745,244

Now looking at the latest numbers of breweries for each state:

Vermont: 41 breweries (as of June 2014)
Montana: 45 breweries (as of July 30, 2014)
Oregon: 173 brewing companies (as of July 5, 2014)

By my math, this is how it pans out:

#1 - Vermont: one brewery per 11,058 people (21 and older)
#2 - Montana: one brewery per 15,695 people (21 and older)
#3 - Oregon: one brewery per 15,868 people (21 and older)

We edged out Oregon by less than 200 people, per-capita.

Now let's consider where Montana is headed. Assuming our population stays relatively the same through the end of 2014, and assuming that all the coming soon! breweries open by the end of the year, we'll jump up to 53 breweries! That bumps Montana to one brewery per 13,326 people of drinking age, and Oregon would have to hit 207 breweries to top us then.

If you're curious what it would take to reach #1, I did that calculation too. We'd have to have 64 breweries in operation, assuming Vermont doesn't open any more breweries. Think we'll get there?

P.S. We are number one for something. Montana has more bars per 100,000 people than any other state (59.30 bars per 100k to be exact). So the next time someone gets concerned that we have too many breweries, tell them there's 15 places that pour those beers for everyone one brewery that makes them. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Beaverhead Brewing Company Open in Dillon

 
As I returned from a weekend in Virginia City, Montana, and attending the Dog & Grog Brewfest, I detoured southwest to Dillon, Montana, and its new brewery, Beaverhead Brewing Company. Having been open about five weeks already, owner/head brewer, Brett Maki, says, “It’s been busy, which is great.”

Brett was born and raised in Dillon. He began brewing in Seattle 13 years earlier after his wife surprised him with a homebrew kit for his birthday. After only three months he got the brewing bug and went to work for Pyramid Brewery, washing tanks and driving a forklift.

After Pyramid Brewery closed in Seattle, Brett wasn’t about to give up his new art. He started working for Georgetown Brewing and soon became its head brewer.

In 2011, Brett and his family moved back home. He thought his hometown should have a brewery again. Yes, again. The original Dillon brewery was also called Beaverhead Brewing Company, and it operated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This brewery, like many many others, closed in 1919 with Prohibition.
Original Beaverhead Brewery logo and label. Courtesy Beaverheadbeer.com
The modern-day Beaverhead Brewing Company is beautifully situated in a former car dealership, and though already quite spacious, Brett has room to grow his brewery should demand continue to increase.

“We brew on a custom seven-barrel system,” says Brett. A friend of his at Worldwide Stainless Inc. manufactured the brew system, but Brett himself ordered every single working part to put the system together.
Brett Maki and his custom system.
As for demand for his beer, it’s there. He has supplied kegs to Mac’s Last Cast Bar, just down the street from the brewery. “But I’ve already gotten calls from Butte and Bozeman,” says Brett. “I just want to get one thing down at a time.”

Beaverhead Brewing Company’s first brewfest will be at the Bale Brewfest in Virginia City on August 9. Brett has family in the area and knows the ladies who run the Bale of Hay Saloon. If you’re in the area, Virginia City and the Bale are worth a visit!
 
As for Brett’s approach to making beer, he says, “I want to make solid beers. I’m really not into fruit or strange brews.” And solid beers he has made. I tried all he had on tap and solid was the word I would use to describe them.
A partial flight at the brewery.
Beaverhead Brewing Company’s summer hours are Sunday – Thursday 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday – Saturday noon to 8 p.m. Growlers can be filled until 8:30 p.m. They are located at 218 S. Montana Street. 
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