Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vote Beer, and Vote Often - The Audience Awards

Montana homebrewer and videographer, Rob Truax, is in the running to win an Audience Award for his video on "The Best Beer in Montana." If you want to know which beer that is, WATCH THE VIDEO

Okay, spoiler alert! The best beer in Montana is often the beer you brew yourself. When we asked Rob about his video, he told us:

While filming, I realized how important homebrewing is to Montana, and just how deep its roots go. I saw the effect homebrewers had on beer, and how many professional brewers started on their kitchen stove.

Rob's other project, with Missoula resident Carl Spurgeon, is the documentary Homebrewd, set to debut during Missoula Craft Beer Week at The Top Hat on April 27. 

As for what inspires Rob to tackle projects like the one for the Audience Awards:

I'm inspired by the passion of people. I'm passionate about filmmaking, and I'm passionate about beer. So when I saw the opportunity to collaborate and meet and talk with people who were passionate about beer, well I just couldn't resist.

To support Rob's video, "The Best Beer in Montana," click on one of the links above to watch the video, then create a free account and vote. There are five days left for voting, and you can vote everyday! 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Dram Shop: Missoula's Beer Bar

Now open at 229 E. Front St. The Dram Shop - Growler Fill Station features Missoula's newest lineup of craft beer taps and bottles. Owners Zach and Sarah Millar were excited to open their doors to the public on Friday, and Missoula, in turn, was excited to show up. With 32 beers on tap, plus a few extra taps for sodas and ciders, The Dram Shop is a representation of the "big city" beer bars one might find in Oregon, Washington, California, and other beer-friendly states.

The Dram Shop showcases its up-to-date tap list digitally on the wall, as well as in print. They sell and fill multiple sizes of growlers, from wide-mouth pint sizes to the traditional 64 oz. If it's on tap, it can be filled in a growler.

"The most macro beer we have on tap is probably Modelo or Rainier," says owner Zach Millar. "We've designated only one tap for the [big name] beers, and we'll probably have things like Olympia or PBR." Just don't expect things like Bud Light or anything MillerCoors.

In addition to beer, soda, and cider, The Dram Shop also offer wines by the bottle and by the glass. They also sell bottles of beer to-go or for onsite consumption. Due to licensing, customers must order the bottle they want from the display or case; one cannot just pick it up and pay for it. 

The Dram Shop has a different character than some of Missoula's other "watering holes." Its modern decor, white-tiled backdrop and stainless steel tap station fits well with today's modern craft beer drinker. Another difference is its family-friendliness. Montana's breweries have long been noted for their welcoming atmosphere for families and kids, and The Dram Shop has embraced that too. With a corner play area (and being across the street from SpectrUM Discovery Area), it won't be uncommon to find a similar crowd as one finds at Draught Works.

The Millars noted as much back in October 2014 in a Missoula Independent interview: "We have two daughters, so we want it to be a family friendly place,” Zach says. “We’re going to have a play area for kids in here, and we want the atmosphere to be laid back, like a taproom atmosphere. That’s our goal. A place where people are comfortable bringing their kids, having a snack, filling a growler and going home—or staying for longer, if they want to."

When we checked out The Dram Shop yesterday (I was hanging out with Alan from Growler Fills), Zach Millar was the first to tell us that his draft list isn't nearly as polished as he aims it to be. "Honestly, there's not one special order beer on the list. We were so focused on getting the place ready to be opened we just picked the best beers that were fresh and immediately available."

Still, their goal is to offer choices other bars in Missoula don't. (For instance, they have a Carter's beer on tap). Of course there are local beers available too, such as Great Burn's Comet IPA and Big Sky's Pygmy Owl. Interesting to note: during the shop's soft opening on Thursday night, Pygmy Owl was the "most poured" beer of the evening. 

The Dram Shop is off and running. If you're in Missoula, stop by and check it out.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bonsai Brewing location, same great beer and staff.


 Bonsai Brewing Project has upgraded!

  To say that the locals were extremely annoyed upon learning that our little 3 barrel nano in the Mountain Mall was being displaced by Shopco, would be putting it mildly.  Yes it was small, restrictive, hard to get a seat and it had zero potential for any type of expansion, but it was cool and we loved it.  When we heard that BBP was being forced to vacate the mall, many of us wondered if our little diamond in the rough would even resurface again.  After all, owner-brewmeister Graham Hart acquired the space in the 1st place due to it's affordability and finding a new, affordable, place in Whitefish could be quite challenging.

  The beer gods smile upon those who make great beer.  Turns out, being displaced was a blessing in disguise.  Graham has acquired the venue he initially wanted, prior to settling in at the mall, which was the former Rising Sun Bistro restaurant located at 549 Wisconsin Avenue, just north of downtown Whitefish.  Due to the, comparatively, spaciousness of the new digs you no longer have to turn around and leave due to there not being a place to sit or stand on a Friday or Saturday night.  The new facility's seating capacity is leaps and bounds larger than the old location in the mall and it has significantly more space to expand, where beer production is concerned.  Come summer, the fact that there is ample seating inside may be a moot point as the lot the building sits on is enormous.  Because the lot is fenced in you will be able to take that tasty adult beverage outside and enjoy it under the big blue Montana sky.  Heck, you won't even need to go inside to get said adult beverage as there will be a bar outside on the porch to meet your refreshment needs too.  For those people who feel the need to take their dog with them every place they go, Phydeaux is even welcome in the beer garden, as long as he/she is well behaved and you clean up after him/her.

  The bottom line.  Combine the great new renovated space, with the largest craft brewery beer garden I believe I have ever seen, with awarding winning staff and beer (seriously, check it out, click HERE), how could it not be a hit?  If you're visiting NW Montana, you're going to want to pay this place a visit. 

Old space...

New space 

The pic below only shows 1/3 of the spacious beer garden.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Pre-Order a Montana Cap Map and Support Missoula Craft Beer Week

Montana Cap Map
Montana Cap Map - Pre-order for May delivery. $39.00
The fine and creative folks at Beer Cap Maps, Jesse and Steve, are busy, busy making some incredible gear for the beer geeks. In this digital day and age, where many tech-savvy beer drinkers are turning to their smartphones for keeping track of their scores (guilty as charged!), there is a new, classy way to keep track of your libation-related conquests. Behold, the Beer Cap Map.

Jesse and Steve are trying to build up their website sales, as they are only currently stocked in retail locations in three states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri). They have a goal of making Beer Cap Maps for all 50 states by May 1, and now they have included our great state of Montana!

The premise is simply beautiful. Instead of large bottles amassing dust on shelves and floors everywhere, or red SOLO cups filled with buried bottle caps, a craft beer drinker can proudly display their colorful cap collection from beers they consumed from different states. Sure, this rules out all those draft-only beers, and cans, but there is something timeless about the beer bottle.

What I like about these Beer Cap Maps is that you can use them to display older bottle caps too. Perhaps you have an original Highlander bottle cap, or something from Kessler Brewing Co. out of Helena. Plug them in the general vicinity of the brewery and it serves as a three-dimensional beer travel journal (better yet, get this AND a Montana Brewery Passport).

Here's the best news! Jesse and Steve are offering our readers to get and give. If you pre-order your Montana Beer Cap Map (for May delivery), and you use the coupon/promo code "newhouse" some portion of the proceeds will be donated to Missoula Craft Beer Week! What a deal!

Here are the specs for the Montana Beer Cap Map:
25" wide, 14" tall
92 unique cap-holding holes

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Winter Brewfest in Caras Park, Missoula

Snow or no, the Missoula Downtown Winter Brewfest returns tomorrow to Caras Park. The forecast is showing partly sunny and dipping down from 32 degrees by the time the beers start pouring. Nevertheless, there will be burn barrels, a lot of beer, and great music. The brewfest runs from 5-10 p.m. Admission is $12 and includes two drink tokens. Additional tokens are $1. Must be 21 or older.

This event is hosted by the Missoula Downtown Association and sponsored by Kettlehouse Brewing Co. and the Trail 103.3 FM.

Click here for a full list of the 35+ beers >>>PDF<<<

Here are a few I'm excited to try!
  • ‘Citra’ Eddy Out Pale Ale Kettlehouse Brewing Missoula, MT
  • Red Dread Imperial Red Ale Bitterroot Brewing Hamilton, MT
  • White Wit Beaverhead Brewing Dillon, MT
  • Bad Finger Imperial Stout Phillipsburg Brewing Phillipsburg, MT 
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