Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label beer. Show all posts

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, 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!

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.

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 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
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 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:


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Imagine Nation Brewing Hosts Grand Opening and Imagine Fest

It's hard to believe, but Missoula's second newest brewery is about to have its Grand Opening. Yes, Imagine Nation Brewing, which opened its doors in the summer of 2015 already has more beers under its belt than the newest, Missoula Brewing Company. But don't worry, this isn't a competition. It's beer!

Anyway, on September 19, from noon to 8 p.m. (the same time of the Missoula Brews Cruise), Imagine Nation Brewing will host its grand opening celebration and first Imagine Fest, which will highlight the brewery's unique community center.

“While we are very excited for the grand opening, we are especially thrilled to launch the Center for Community Transformation,” remarked co-owner, Fernanda Krum. Krum continued, “The inclusion of this educational center in the brewery is what defines the unique mission of the INBC.” This concept has piqued the interest of many local groups. Susan Hay Patrick, chief executive officer of United Way of Missoula County, said, "Getting together over a beer to discuss the issues of the day is a very 'Missoula thing.’ We've been impressed by (co-owners) Robert and Fernanda's determined efforts to provide a unique space for individuals and groups to find common ground over a good brew."

Here's the schedule of events, as listed at

Live Music
  • 12-12:45pm:  Community Drum Circle
  • 1-3pm:  Local Yokel
  • 4-5pm: Caleb Van Gelder Trio
  • 6-8pm:  Wartime Blues
  • 11-11:45am: Kids’ Vibrations, hosted by Tangled Tones Music Studio (donation-based)
  • 1-2:30pm:  Theatrical Improv for Kids, hosted by Kevin Harrington
  • 3-4pm: “How do We Create Social Change” with Mayor John Engen and Susan Hay Patrick, CEO of United Way of Missoula
  • 3:30-4:30pm and 4:45-5:45pm:  Appreciate Beer Like a Pro, hosted by Alan McCormick, MT contributor of Rocky Mountain Brewing News and author of  Growler Fills
  • 4:30-5:30pm: Compassion Without Borders, hosted by Kim Maynard, Mansfield Fellow in International Affairs
Local Food Vendors
  • Clove Cart Pizza Peddlers
  • Bao Chow Hot Asian Buns
  • Covered Wagon Hot Dogs
  • More to be announced!
Special Art Show
“Wild Propaganda,” by award winning independent film director and artist Rob Whitehair from Tree and Sky Media Arts.

After Party
The Top Hat Lounge, located at 134 W. Front St. in Missoula, will feature INBC’s beers on tap, a first for the brewery, which has been selling beer exclusively out of its brewery taproom for the past six months. The Big Sky Mudflaps will be playing to celebrate their 40th anniversary of performing together. The show is free and begins at 9 p.m.

I must give a special shout out to Imagine Nation's newest beer release, their double IPA. It's Robert's favorite beer he's brewed so far, and the taste I had from the tank (#humblebrag) was incredible. Look for it during Imagine Fest! 

And if you haven't see this video, you should:

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

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, 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!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Inaugural Kalispell Beer and Wine Open

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.

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.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Black Eagle Brewery Joins the Ranks of Montana Craft Breweries

Soaring into Montana's vibrant beer scene, Black Eagle Brewery (adjacent to Pit Stop Tavern & Raceway Cafe) is serving and kegging beer north of Great Falls, Montana.

"We've been planning this for over a year and a half," says partner and head brewer, Jason Lehman. "We have a new 15-barrel system that was made for us in Nebraska, so we'll be able to distribute kegs right away."

With this volume, Black Eagle Brewery already fills its own taproom and has beers available at the Pit Stop Tavern. The starting lineup includes: Smoke Stack Scottish Ale, Black Eagle IPA, Roe River Pale Ale, Smelter Men Blonde Ale, and Copper Nail Nut Brown Ale.

Lehman is somewhat of a homebrewer-turned-pro, but he had a little help from the other side of Montana.

"Paul Roys from Lolo Peak Brewery was instrumental in helping us get the brewhouse set up," says Lehman.

"Our theme is very industrial," he continues, "which reflects what Black Eagle was built on, and what Great Falls was built on." That is evident with the copper and custom woodwork throughout the brewery and taproom. Lehman knows that nearly everyone in Black Eagle has some ties to the smelter. He even had someone bring in a copper nail from the smelter and asked it be used in the brewery.

With the ability to produce up to 2,000 barrels of beer annually, Black Eagle Brewery might not be too far off from distributing their beers beyond taproom sales and kegs.

"We've been in communication with Spokes Mobile Canning [the Spokane-based mobile canner]," Lehman says, "but we may also get our own canning line before long."

So when you're out Great Falls way, stop in and check out the newest brewery in the area, and the first for Black Eagle.

The brewery plans to have a grand opening celebration on Super Bowl Sunday, February 1, 2015.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Class Now in Session: Kettlehouse Kolledge Opens Registration Today

Kettlehouse Kolledge 2015 - Missoula Montana
Sign up for the class you really want to take this year, Kettlehouse Kolledge 2015. Registration is limited to the first 100 people, and it starts today at 5 p.m. at the Northside Taproom. The best part, aside from the beer, is that registration is free!

In its fourth year, Kettlehouse Kolledge is the "koolest klass" around. Montana Beer Finder, Ryan Newhouse, is an alum (and has the sweatshirt to prove it), and this year he will be giving the commencement speech at graduation.

By the way, there's a Master Class available for those who've already gone to Kettlehouse Kolledge.

What is Kettlehouse Kolledge, you ask? It's all this (provided via


Frequently Asked Questions -

Q: Who can participate in KettleHouse Beer Kolledge?
A: Anyone who is 21 or older!

Q: What is the commitment?
A: You commit to 3 dates and two homework assignments (it’s fun!). These commitments fulfill the four credits needed to graduate. Beer Kolledge is held every Monday and Tuesday from January 19th to February 17th. At registration you choose two of those dates one for a brewery tour and one for a brewer led tasting. (Note: The tour and tasting must be done on two separate nights). The third commitment is the graduation celebration. More on this to come.

Q: Can you tell me more about these dates?
A: At registration you pick two dates, either a Monday or Tuesday between January 19thand February 17th. First date, (credit 1) – Northside brewery tour 6:00 pm at theNorthside KettleHouse. Tours will last approximately one hour and will include a free pint at the conclusion of the tour. This pint counts toward your daily 48oz. limit. Please remember to wear closed toed shoes for the tours.

Second date, (credit 2) – Brewer guided tasting at the Northside KettleHouse taproom. Tastings will last approximately 1 hour and the tasting flight is free. The tasting counts toward your daily 48oz. limit.

The third date, – Graduation celebration (date, place and time TBD). Diplomas will be issued and a free KettleHouse Beer Kolledge sweatshirt bestowed.  You must attend the graduation celebration in order to participate in KettleHouse Beer Kolledge.

Q: What are the homework requirements?
A: (Credit 3) Students must order a flight of beer at either KettleHouse location and complete a comment card.  On Mondays and Tuesdays there will be a sampler flight special at the Northside and Southside ($3 flights). This flight special is only open to Beer Kolledge students. Make sure to let your server know you are a student and need a comment card to complete this credit.

(Credit 4) Students must go out in the community and visit one of our fine partnering retail establishments who serve KettleHouse beer. Send us a picture of you drinking one of your favorite KettleHouse beers. Extra credit if you can get the name of the establishment in the photo! Photos should be sent in JPEG to

Q: What does it cost?

Q: How do I sign-up?
A: Sign-up at our Northside Taproom on January 12th from 5-8pm. Registration is open to the first 100 people . No calls! You must be present to sign-up and cannot sign anyone else up.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

News on Bigfork's new Flathead Lake Brewery

   Normally, given the opportunity, I would have visited the brewery and spoken with the owners personally to report on this, but the Flathead Beacon beat me to it.  The Flathead Beacon has limited distribution, so if you live outside of the Flathead, odds are you didn't read the great piece that Tristan Scott wrote concerning the new brewery in Bigfork.  So, in the spirit of keeping Montanans informed about the craft beer scene in Montana, I'm going to republish the Flathead Beacon's story here for the rest of Montana to enjoy.  If you would prefer, you can go directly to the Flathead Beacon's website and read the article there, here's the link.


   "BIGFORK – Overlooking the shores of the largest freshwater lake in the West, it’s easy to see why the owners of Flathead Lake Brewing Company are committed to building an environmentally sustainable brewery.
The jaw-dropping views afforded at the new brewery and brew pub site in Bigfork, scheduled to open next month, are a constant reminder of the pristine watershed that the brewery is perched above, and of the stewardship responsibilities that a business owner takes on in the region.
Imagining sipping a beer and noshing appetizers on the wraparound deck that faces Flathead Lake, lead brewer Tim Jacoby says the job has its perks, and that the new facility’s efficient design converts them into a guiltless pleasure.
“It’s a pretty big responsibility running a business here, and we are really proud of the engineering that went into this building. You can feel good about this because it’s environmentally sustainable,” Jacoby said.
Located just five miles north of the company’s popular Woods Bay brewery, the new site serves several purposes – it allows the brewery to ramp up production after years of lagging behind market demands for its tasty, award-winning beer; it provides space for a cannery line; and it puts the company at the fore of a movement to build sustainable, eco-friendly businesses.
The theory is simple: Great beer calls for quality ingredients, and quality ingredients require a healthy environment. So, building a sustainable brewery yields better beer, right?
That’s why at the new brewery, everything is recycled, reused and reclaimed, right down to the menus and ceiling fans (the latter are made from old jib sails that ferried ships around Flathead Lake).
It’s also one of the few Flathead County businesses to build according to standards administered by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), an accrediting program established by the U.S. Green Building Council to change the way businesses design, construct and operate their buildings and communities.
And after two years, the waiting has been the hardest part.
Since 2012, the Bigfork brewpub has been renovating an old bowling alley near the heart of Bigfork, improving the vacant site with its model for sustainability.
“This has been a long time coming, and a big reason we haven’t opened yet is because this building project has been so time consuming,” said Sandy Johnston, who owns the brewery with her father, Greg Johnston. “There are a lot of hoops we had to go through, but we wanted to get it right.”
Formerly, the site had no storm water infrastructure and potentially contaminated surface run-off was allowed to flush downhill into the lake. The Johnstons are improving the conditions by designing the roof and parking lots so that the vast majority of storm water will be collected and cleaned as it runs down to the aquifer.
Remodeling the bowling alley has also required intensive demolition work, but the owners have been able to divert waste from the landfill by sorting and re-purposing demolition materials, which were reused in the finished building, including 100 percent of the insulation.
The old windows, doors, ceiling tiles and duct work were donated to Habitat for Humanity, while scrap steel was donated to local groups to sell for fundraising.
Concrete was crushed and offered as clean fill for local projects, while building and interior design materials for the Bigfork facility were selected with preference toward regional and recycled sources. All of the brick was reclaimed from old buildings in Spokane, and the pub entryway was fashioned from a historic bridge that once crossed the nearby Swan River.
All of the lumber was locally sourced, and the furniture by the local company Vinoture is made from old wine barrels.
“Instead of this stuff going into landfills we have reused it,” Johnston said. “All of the wood was dredged out of Montana rivers.”
Four solar collectors on the roof help soak up rays to heat water for the brewery and kitchen, while spent grain is given to local farms where it is used as feed for livestock.
The brewery and adjacent pub house and restaurant will operate as separate entities. While the new brewery facility will be responsible for the bulk of production, the Woods Bay brewery will be used to create new and experimental styles of beer, like sours.
Jacoby, the lead brewer, said the new brewery facility is a dream come true for a craft beer maker. He’s been spending most of his time “flavor matching” the beers at the Woods Bay brewhouse to the beers brewed at the new facility, which uses a unique geothermal system – instead of heating the beer wort with flame, he uses recycled steam.
The facility borrows clean effluent from the nearby Bigfork Water and Sewer District and uses it to run several water furnace heat pumps, which, among other things, boils the beer wort. The equipment provides heating and cooling for the building and brewing processes, and provides yet another renewable source of energy.
As time passes and growth continues, the brewery will continue adding fermenters until it reaches capacity. It currently has eight 60-barrel tanks.
“This new location will really open the doors for us as far as style and creativity is concerned. We will now have the space to play, experiment, and brew all of our styles year-round,” Jacoby said.
The brewery is also set to begin canning some of its most popular styles – the Centennial IPA, Bufflehead Brown and Wild Mile Wheat.
“Everything we do here is to conserve energy,” Jacoby said.
Johnston hopes to open the doors to the pub house’s main floor in mid-January, though a date has not yet been set. The entire facility, which includes a game room with two golf simulators, will open by the fall.
“We’re excited to get this open to the public and show everyone what we’ve been doing,” she said."

Monday, December 29, 2014

Missoula New Year’s Eve: Burns St. Bistro and Draught Work Beer Dinner

Missoula is a happening town when it comes to New Years Eve. For years the town has come alive with First Night, which now includes 80+ performances at 30 venues from noon to midnight. These events are all family-friendly and alcohol-free. But perhaps you need to take a break for dinner AND grab a beer. You’re in luck. Burns St. Bistro and Draught Works have teamed up for a year-shattering Beer Dinner. In fact, it will so good that when you wake up the next morning, you’ll feel like you’ve time traveled to another year. I promise.

Avid BBS and DW fans have gotten a fix time and again thanks to the Beastro, which is Burns St. Bistro’s food truck, but to truly highlight the genius of the “cheffery + brewery” potential (I made that up, just now), you NEED to get to this beer dinner on Wednesday night. Here are the details. Luckily, there are a few seats left for each dinner.

First Course:
Amuse bouche. Fig and fois gras terrine, brioche, truffled duck consommé, micro frisée.
Beer Pairing: Quill Pig Czech Pils.

Second Course:
Seared scallop, duck mortadella, pickled fennel, buttercup squash-apple purée.
Beer Pairing: Shadow Caster Amber Ale on cask, infused with fennel and apples.

Third Course:
Prime rib, sun choke persillade, beer glazed carrots, whipped cauliflower, white anchovies.
Beer Pairing: 1910 Smoked Porter.

Fourth Course:
Flathead cherries, cambozola, rosemary, almond.
Beer Pairing: Ellie Mae Strong Golden Ale.

Price: $69 per person
Seatings: 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Reservations: 543-0719

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Montana Breweries, Bottle Shops, and Books Turn to Crowdfunding

By midnight tonight The Hawthorne Bottle Shop's IndieGoGo fundraising page will end, and the bottle shop will receive funding for the next phase of its project (121% funded at the time of writing). The effort was to raise $20,000 to "uncork the first bottle at our local wine store and wine bar in Helena, Montana!" They succeeded.

According to the fundraising page, The Hawthorne Bottle Shop will offer the following services:

  • Wine from around the world
  • Bottles for $10 and under
  • Open bottles to sample each day
  • Craft beer
  • Growler fills, wine and beer on tap
  • Specialty meats and cheeses
  • Olives, nuts and honey
  • Monthly wine and cheese club
  • Wines by glass
  • Beer by the pitcher
  • Wine flights
  • Wine and beer cocktails
  • Small plates including cheese, charcuterie (“shar-kood-aree”), house made crackers, dips and spiced nuts
A focal point of The Hawthorn is a long communal tasting table where we will host wine seminars and tastings.  We will also welcome other wine professionals and winemakers to share their wine and their story.  We will offer a variety of classes to challenge both the seasoned wine enthusiast and those who are just starting to get excited about wine. This table and space will also be made available for custom wine-inspired events and tastings (business meetings, bridal gatherings, birthday parties, etc.)

Earlier this year, both Katabatic Brewing Co. and Imagine Nation Brewing (formerly Big Medicine Brewing) turned to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, respectively, to fundraise for portions of their brewery operations. And both were successful. 

Even a project tied directly to Montana Beer Finder, the Montana Brewery Passport, was successful in raising $5,500 in order to come to fruition. 

And currently in the fundraising process is Backslope Brewing, which is seeking $12,500 by January 3, 2015 to "to create a positive experience for everyone who drinks our beer or visits our tasting room." If you don't already know, Backslope Brewing purchased the former Desert Mountain Brewing Company equipment when it went under. Part of that equipment was on loan to Bonsai Brewing in the interim. 

Backslope Brewing, however, will not do business in the previous brewery's location. They found a building site at 1107 9th St. W. (see below). The four barrel brew system will get them up and running, and they plan to offer five beers on tap at a time, according to their fundraising page: 

Backslope Brewing will strive to keep 5 beers on tap at all times: Pale Ale, IPA, Kolsch, Porter, and Stout. We will also have seasonal and rotating taps, including Scotch Ale, Ginger Beer, Imperial IPA, Imperial Stout, Barley Wine, and various Belgian styles such as Dubble, Tripple, and Saison. We have also acquired a few barrels from a local distillery, (thanks Glacier Distilling!) and will be running a small barrel aging program.

Photo courtesy Backslope Brewing Kickstarter

The Backslope Brewing Kickstarter is just over 25% funded, as of today. As with other Kickstarter projects, no money is provided unless the project is 100% funded by the deadline. 

Nationally, there are now two more alternatives for crowdfunding beer/brewery-related projects. (currently limited to investing in Wisconsin projects) and opened "shop" to help brewers open breweries and make beer. These new crowdfunding sources sprang up, likely in part, due to restrictions that have existed in the past on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter that discouraged people seeking money to open businesses. The original intention was to fund "artists" of all types to create projects (i.e. make something). For a brewery's sake, it does make beer, so that is something. IndieGoGo and Kickstarter have relaxed those rules a bit more recently.

However, there can be a dark side when it comes to crowdfunding and breweries. In Fortune magazine's October edition, a piece ran called "The perils of crowdfunding a beer." 

The article led with the story how Stone Brewing Co. raised $2.5 million in six weeks to sell "beer futures," though that in itself carried some controversy, notably because Stone Brewing tried calling it a "presales event" instead of "fundraising" (read the comments on the above link). But...they were using a fundraising website, right? So it looks like one thing, yet you call it another? 

Later in the Fortune article it describes that over 800 beer-related projects were launched on Kickstarter, and each of those had higher success rates with funding than the rate of their overall site.

But then there come the poster childs of crowdfunding-gone-wrong. Both a Kansas City- and Texas-based brewery received tens of thousands of dollars from backers, but neither got a brewery open, nor did they give any of the money back. To be fair, the Texas brewery opened for a very short time and then got closed down because of "naked game night," but it is yet to reopen.  

The questions that the article asks, and any potential backer of a project should ask, include: is this a transparent operation? Can I reasonably expect to get the return they promise? Should I fund it even if it fails? Is the business looking to crowdfunding as a "way out" of securing more tradition sources of funds (i.e. personal investment and bank loans)?

Is this all a new way of saying that "beer is social," as my friend at Growler Fills likes to say? Please discuss in the comments below.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

The One Growler to Rule Them All...

Kettlehouse Golden Growler 2015
Yes, the precious will be on sale for Black Friday at Kettlehouse on Myrtle and Northside, starting at NOON.* What is the precious you ask? Well, it's mine!

Okay, let's get serious. Kettlehouse is doing something similar to a project they last did in 1999 that involved some coveted pint glasses, but more on that in a minute. This Friday they will be selling a very limited number of Golden Growlers (think Willy Wonka). One purchases the growler for $100 (or two for $200), and it entitles the growler owner to fill said growler at either location with any non-Imperial/non-barrel-aged beer for only $5 FOR LIFE (once per day per customer)!

And if that wasn't enough, the growler owner also gets a free pint of beer each time the growler gets filled.

For the mathematically inclined, that's about 17 visits to pay off the initial $100 investment, and then folks are saving $7 bucks per use after that.

Back in 1999, Kettlehouse offered up 50 "Millennium Mugs" at $25 each, and the mug holder got $1 fills for life. It's estimated that about half of these mugs are still filled at Kettlehouse.

Kettlehouse will be hosting other fun festivities on Black Friday from 1-4 p.m.

*an earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the start time at 1 p.m. It will begin at noon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

All Souls Ale: Have Beer, Need Art

All Souls Ale Art Contest
Imagine Missoula and Big Sky Brewing Company have announced the inaugural All Souls Art Contest in correlation with the release of the 2015 edition of All Souls Ale. This annual beer release has served to raise monies for Imagine Missoula, a Missoula-based non-profit that does so many good things for their community they can’t be listed here, so check out their website!

All Souls Ale has been incarnated around every holiday season/winter, and it has taken a few different forms, from Imperial Saison to Belgium Trippel. Each bottle is hand-filled and numbered by volunteers, and the release party is always a hoot.

If you’re interested in getting your art out in the community, here are the details (from


  • Artwork must be original.
  • Artist must be at least 18 years old to enter (must be 21 to win beer prizes)
  • Artwork should embody the values and mission of Imagine Missoula. If you aren't sure who we are, you might want to read this; if you aren't sure what we do, you may want to check this out; and if you need a little help with what we value, click here.
  • Artwork will need to incorporate the following text:
    • The name of the beer: All Souls Ale
    • Style description: Tripel Ale
    • Brewery Name: Big Sky Brewing Co.
    • Contents Description: 750ML, 11% ABV
  • Artwork should meet the following design specifications:
    • Final label will be approximately 4" x 4" and applied to a green 750 ML champagne bottle
    • Artwork should be no larger than 18" x 24" and can be any media format that is scan-able (i.e. flat). Digital files are encouraged.
  • Winning artist will receive sweet prizes, a membership to the ZACC and recognition for their work on the back label and on Imagine Missoula's website. There will also be prizes awarded to the first and second runners-up.
  • The winning design will become the sole property of Big Sky Brewing, Co. All rights reserved.
  • ALL submitted artwork will be retained by Imagine Missoula & Big Sky Brewing, Co.

  • All submissions must be received by December 1, 2014 in order to be considered.
  • All submissions must contain the following information:
  • Full Name
  • Contact Info
  • Date of Birth
  • We encourage you to submit entries electronically. Please email your artwork to: imaginemissoula@gmail.comAttn; All Souls Ale Art Contest. Keep emailed files under 8MB. Submissions must be in a standard file format (tif, jpg, ai, eps, pdf).
  • If you'd prefer to send us a hard copy, please mail it to the following address:
    Big Sky Brewery
    Attn: Mike Morawski
    PO Box 17170
    Missoula, MT 59808
  • Winner will be notified no later than December 11, 2014.

Need a little inspiration? Here are the previous labels for All Souls Ale.
All Souls Ale 2013All Souls AleAll Souls Ale 2012

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Harvest Montana Brewfest in Great Falls

Harvest Montana Brewfest
A new brewfest is appearing in Montana, and Great Falls is the host city. Presented by and in conjunction with the Harvest Montana Grain Conference*, the Montana-only Harvest Montana Brewfest will take place on Friday November 21, 2014 at the Best Western Plus Heritage Inn from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. Only 400 tickets are available for this premiere event. Each ticket is $50 and includes unlimited tastings.

Organizing the brewfest is Evan Bowser, owner of Bowser Brewing Co. The Harvest Montana Brewfest, however, will be quite different than a “typical” Montana brewfest.

“We’re flying in certified beer judges from all around the country to judge Montana’s beers,” says Evan Bowser. “This will eliminate any unintentional biases toward host city breweries, and the beers will be judged based solely on their merits. We’ll award gold, silver, and bronze.”

“I’m also requiring that any Montana brewery that wants their beer judged must send an owner or brewer so the attendees will get to engage with the brewery and their beer more personally,” says Bowser. “This will add value to the ticket price. We’ll be advertising the event in national magazines and up into Canada.”

Bowser has sent out invitations to all Montana’s breweries, and so far he’s received over a dozen positive responses, including from a few breweries that don’t typically pour at in-state brewfests.

“The breweries have told me they appreciate the fact that we’ll have BJCP judges on hand,” says Bowser.

“There will also be many elected state officials at the conference, and we’ve invited all of them to attend the brewfest afterwards,” says Bowser. “This will give them a chance to meet the brewers and craft beer fans, and vice versa, before we enter into another legislative session next year.”

The list of judges brought in for the event (as listed on the event page):

Bill Downs lives in Durango, Colorado. He is a BJCP Certified Beer Judge, home brewer and a Beer Journalist for the Rocky Mountain Brewing News. He also blogs [www. homebrewingnews .com] and is the author of 12 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Homebrewing.

Steve Luke is the Lead Brewer for Elysian Brewing in Seattle, Washington. He runs the experimental brewhouse at the Elysian Fields location. Previously, he was the Head Brewer for Rogue's Issaquah Brewhouse, the Cambridge House Brewpub in Connecticut, and a brewer for Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine. He has judged at the Great American Beer Festival since 2011.

Janet Hinkel has judged the National IPA Championship, the National Imperial IPA Championship, and the Global Warming Open since the inception of each beer competition. Janet is the former and original writer for the Beer Beacon, a snarky and honest tasting column in the Great Lakes Brewing News. While she no longer proselytizes in print, she will tell you how it is whether you want her to or not. Some of Janet’s fans call her the Original Beer Bitch, but it’s not true. She’s the Buffalo Beer Bitch, the East Coast counterpart to the West Coast legend. Janet now lives in Springfield, Oregon, where she refuses to denounce her East Coast beer roots.

Charlie Gottenkieny has been brewing since 1988 and is the only two-time winner of the AHA's Homebrewer of the Year award. He has been part of the Beer Judge Certification Program since 1994 and is a National-level beer judge. He is co-founder of Better Beer Scores, LLC, a webinar-based company that specializes in preparing beer judges for the BJCP exam. Charlie is opening an artisanal brewery in Denver, Colorado, in 2015.

Ron Carlson is a commercial beer judge living in Brooklyn, New York. He represents Pennsylvania's Voodoo Brewery, and has judged the National IPA Challenge and the Global Warming Open international competition since their inception.

Jamie Magee lives in Natick, Massachusetts. His beer journey began in Düsseldorf in 1984. He passionately discovered the newly minted microbrew scene at home, first in Colorado, where he was a journalism student; then in New England, where he worked in the publishing industry. He is a co owner of several Brewing News papers as well as American Brewer. Jamie's beer judging resume includes the the National IPA Championship, the Great International Beer Festival and the Alpha King Challenge.

Jen Schwertmann has been professionally involved in the Craft Beer world for over 20 years, having spent time behind notable beer bars in Denver, Colorado and New York City, before recently settling in Santa Barbara. She has started Jen Schwertman Consulting LLC, in order to help train bars and restaurants in the successful promotion of craft beer. The runner-up for Beer Drinker of the Year, in 2013, Jen is currently working on her BJCP certification.

Bill Metzger is the publisher of the Brewing News papers and owner of the Old First Ward Brewing Company, in Buffalo, New York. He is the founder of the National IPA Challenge and the Global Warming Open competitions. He also coordinates the judging for the Alpha King Challenge. Bill has judged in all of these, as well as over 100 home brew competitions.

*The Inaugural Harvest Montana Grain Conference is co-presented by Montana Farmers Union and the Lake County Community Development Corporation. It will “bring folks together from sectors of the grain industry to expand the grain, pulse, and oilseed economy through collaboration and business development, leading to additional profit retention and job creation in communities across the state.”  

Full disclosure: as a member of the "media," this author has been offered a free media ticket to attend the brewfest if he can/wishes.

Friday, October 3, 2014

2014 Draught Works Customer Appreciation Day

3rd Annual Draught Works Customer Appreciation Day
On Saturday, starting at noon, Draught Works will celebrate its 3rd Annual Customer Appreciation Day. There will be a free BBQ catered by Burns St. Bistro, giveaways all day (including tickets to the Last Best Film festival, growlers, growler fills, hoodies, hats, gift cards, and tons more).

"In celebration of opening our doors nearly three years ago," says Ana Pederson of Draught Works, "we want to celebrate with  our customers and loyal patrons."

Live music by Red Onion Purple (listen to their song, "Antoinette," here) will start at 5:00 p.m. Get there, have a beer, and keep supporting this neighborhood brewery. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Angry Hanks in Billings Down to One Location

"It is official," as the sign reads. The original Angry Hank's location at 2405 1st Ave. N. will be no longer as of October 31, or if the beer runs out sooner. This pic came in from a Billings beer spotter. 

The new location on 20 North 30th St. will be open. When asked where the equipment is going, the reply is "it's already sold," perhaps indicating that it won't be moved over to the new location to increase beer production. 

We will work to fill in the details as we get them. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

3rd Annual Chain Reaction at Draught Works September 7

3rd Annual Chain Reaction Fresh Hop Festival
Draught Works returns with its annual Chain Reaction Fresh Hop Festival, a bike and brew event in which 100 pounds of fresh hops gets transported via bike race up the Bitterroot Valley to join with freshly milled grains to brew the Chain Reaction Fresh Hop Ale.

The event kicks off on Sunday September 7, 2014 at the Fais Do-Do Farm in Corvallis. 12 teams of riders will haul hops on their bikes in relay fashion to Draught Works (50 miles!). The grains for the Fresh Hop Ale are also milled via bicycle, using a Bitterroot-designed and built GrainMaker grain mill powered by a bicycle. As volunteers pedal, grains get milled.
Draught Works Chain Reaction Milling
Rogue Cow Alert - BRING HOPS!
Draught Works informed us that due to some rogue cattle that got into the hops fields at the farm, nearly half the harvest was lost. If you have hops you'd be willing to donate to the Fresh Hop Ale, please call Draught Works (541-1592) (or message them on Facebook) with what you have and could supply. 
Check out post on last year's Chain Reaction!

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.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...