Tucked away, 2 1/2 miles up Grave Creek Road, in the northwest corner of northwest Montana, believe it or not, there is a place that you can get an adult beverage. Nope, not moonshine...craft beer. In this, the most unlikeliest of craft brewery locations, you will find a jewel of a 3 barrel craft brewery, Homestead Ales, and it's worth the drive to experience it.
I've been meaning to pay HA) a visit since they opened in August, but life happened and I never made it up there. This Saturday I woke up thinking, based on an ominous weather report, that this will likely be the last good weather Saturday of 2013 and if I wanted to make it up Eureka way on dry pavement, today might be my last chance to do so.
I made the 50+ mile drive from Columbia Falls and arrived a little after opening time, which is at 3 pm. Initially I sat there, alone with my thoughts, and sampled each of their 5 offerings that were served to me in miniature canning jars. Every 15 minutes or so, the door behind me would open and in would walk a couple, or a foursome, or a single and by 5 pm it was standing room only. Way to go Eureka, way to support your local craft brewery!
Wait a minute, the conversations that I'm, unintentionally, eavesdropping on are all things that I am familiar with. Through engaging with the patrons, I began to realize that the majority of the people in here are from where I'm from, the North Valley of the Flathead. This theory was confirmed when I walked out to my car and noticed that almost all of the cars in the parking lot had a 7 on their license plate. This tells me one important thing, that what owner/brewer Chris Neill and Karl Kassler have created up on Grave Creek Road matters. It matters enough that people who care about finely crafted beer, and a nice space to enjoy it in, are willing to drive over 50 miles from the tap handle rich environment of the North Valley to an obscure little brewery nestled in the foothills of the Whitefish Range. That, my friends, speaks volumes. Of course, it doesn't hurt that their Grave Creek IPA just won a gold medal at the recent Montana Brewers Association Brewfest either.
I would normally say that if you happen to be in the area stop in for a pint or two, but with HA) I'm going to say make a special trip. Make the trip and take the time to spend a couple of hours at HA) and enjoy the space, the vibe, the ambiance, the staff, the patrons, and of course the craft beer. I took the chance and made the special trip and you can bet I will make that special trip many more times in the future.
High marks for the tap room...with its warm earth tones, folksy decor, and its use of rustic construction materials, it makes for a very inviting and cozy space. The German's have a most excellent word for the feeling you get when visiting the HA) tap room...Gemutlichkeit.