Friday, August 29, 2014

Great Burn Brewing Co. - Montana's 47th - Opens Today

Continuing one of the best weeks of beer news to hit Montana in . . well . . . at least a month, Great Burn Brewing Co. opens today at 3:00 p.m. 

Located at 2230 McDonald Ave in Missoula (just off Brooks St. and behind Jaker's Restaurant), Great Burn is the first brewery to locate in Missoula's southside neighborhood.  

I had the pleasure to sample owner/brewer Mike Howard's varied lineup last night and came away very impressed.  Here are a few photos from last night's preview. 

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Missoula Brewing Company Announces Plans For New Brewery

Try and locate the Missoula Brewing Company this afternoon and all you'll find is a small notation on a bottle of Highlander Beer. That's about to change in a very big way.

Today, the Missoula Brewing Company announced plans to construct a brewery where Highlander Beer will again be brewed in Missoula for the first time since 1964.

Co-owner Bob Lukes says the 15,000 square foot facility will be built along Grant Creek on a 1.5 acre parcel immediately behind Karl Tyler Chevrolet.  Inside will be a 30 bbl brewhouse supported by 100 bbl fermenters.  A bottling system (12 oz. and 22 oz.) and keg washer are being produced in Italy.

The facility will include a pizza kitchen and on-site taproom which will open onto a large outdoor seating area under the cottonwood trees by the creek.

Under the Highlander brand the brewery plans to produce more traditional and sessionable beers.  Lukes says the Missoula Brewing Co. brand will offer more "cutting edge, crazy hopped, fruit infused, and cask aged beers."   The taproom is expected to offer up to twelve beers at a time, spanning the ale to lager spectrum.

Missoula Brewing Co. conducted a national search and selected an experienced brewer to head the operations.  While the owners are not ready to reveal the brewer's identity, they do note it is someone
from outside Montana (lest any local breweries are starting to get nervous).

Construction of the facility is expected to start in September with an opening planned for mid-2015.  Production of Highlander Beer, a Scottish red ale currently brewed under contract, will move to the new brewery.

~ Follow Growler Fills on Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Draught Works Chain Reaction Festival Returns September 7

Draught Works Brewery's annual festival of fresh hop love returns for 2014 on Sunday, September 7.

The Chain Reaction Fresh Hop Relay is a 50 mile bike relay from the Fais do-do Farm in Corvallis, MT to the Draught Works Brewery in Missoula's westside neighborhood.  On Sunday, Sept. 7, up to twelve teams of four members will transport over 100 pounds of locally-grown, fresh-picked hops to the brewery to be used in a fresh hop beer.

While the bike teams try and stay ahead of their competitors, volunteers will mill the grain using a bike-powered mill to create a unique, pedal powered Chain Reaction Fresh Hop Ale brewed the same day.

Chain Reaction  Fresh Hop Festival is a celebration of locally crafted beer and sustainable transportation. Stop by the brewery for plenty of beer, food and other activities and cheer on the teams as they deliver the hops and the volunteers pedal away at the grain.

You'll find Draught Works Brewery at 915 Toole Ave. in Missoula.  (Photos courtesy of Draught Works Brewery.)

~ Follow Growler Fills on Twitter and Facebook

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meadowlark Brewing Co. - Montana's 46th - Now Open

Anyone getting bored with this kind of news yet?  Of course not!

Montana welcomed its 46th operating brewery on Saturday, August 23, with the opening of Meadowlark Brewing Co. in Sidney. Meadowlark's restaurant and coffee house has been open for a few months now, but the beer is now flowing as well. 

On tap initially are a Cream Ale, Oat Malt Stout and XPA (Extra Pale Ale).  Meadowlark describes them as:
Cream Ale - A traditional American beer style that emulates the American Standard Lager, but is brewed with ale yeast. Light, smooth and unbelievably thirst quenching. It's the perfect lawn mower beer for a hot summer day. 4% ABV

Oat Malt Stout - A velvety smooth nitrogenated stout made with malted oats. Pitch black with roasted coffee hints and a cocoa finish. 3.5% ABV

XPA (Extra Pale Ale) - A tangerine-gold ale, crisp with moderate bitterness and floral notes reminiscent of tropical fruit, lemons, and grapefruit. 5% ABV
Brewmaster Tim Schnars notes Meadowlark will be adding to the lineup in a couple weeks with the brewery's Scotch Rye Wee Heavy and Raspberry Witbier, a Belgian-style wheat beer brewed with Indian coriander and raspberry concentrate.  Future plans call for a rotational Belgian-style ale series including a Belgian-style Tripel.

Meadowlark Brewing Co. is located at 117 S. Central Ave. in Sidney, Montana. Cheers to more Montana beer.

~ Follow Growler Fills on Twitter and Facebook

Saturday, August 23, 2014

An Ethical Standard for Beer Blogging

The 2014 Beer Bloggers conference is rolling along in San Diego this weekend.  One of the topics is "Free Beer and Other Quandaries for Beer Writing Ethics."  While preparing for the panel presentation, it quickly became clear bloggers do not fit neatly into traditional segments of the media.

For one, citizen bloggers fill many roles: reporter, investigator, historian, commentator and opinion page, to name a few. Crossing over into these varied roles creates a minefield of issues which take aim at a blogger's credibility.  After all, isn't credibility one of the best benchmarks of success in one's work?

Because of these varied functions, no single existing code of ethics adequately guides a blogger’s range of work. Thus, the following core principles are intended to provide a solid base regardless of role and serve as a starting point for any ethical practice.

Accuracy: Verify sources and information. Challenge claims and assumptions. Your credibility depends on it. Your readers (and subjects) expect it.

Transparency: Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure. Relationships, free products, complimentary tickets, reduced conference fees, advertisers. Disclosure is critical to allowing your readers to evaluate your work.

Accountability: Own your work and stand up for it. Accept criticism and correct mistakes. The more accurate and transparent your work is, the easier it is to be accountable for it.

Attribution to Sources: Always identify the source of your information. Quotes, writings, interviews, statistics, photographs, videos and other media: If you did not say it, write it or create it, explain who did.

Clear Separation Between Reporting and Opinion: Bloggers enjoy the freedom to readily switch between reporting the news and commenting upon it. Ensure readers can clearly determine the difference.

~ Follow Growler Fills on Twitter and Facebook

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cruising San Diego's Breweries With Friends and Style

What happens when you pile 15 beer bloggers into a stretch limo and haul them around San Diego for a beer tour?  Exactly what you think would happen. One giant overloaded dose of beer geekerie coupled with one of the best ways to explore this fantastic beer scene.  The 2014 Beer Bloggers Conference isn't all about sticking our noses in books, you know.

While the official pre-conference excursion took place in Los Angeles, many of us chose to make our way to San Diego early to take in more of the city's 90+ breweries.  A Plus Limos reached out and offered their services to help plan and haul us around and we readily accepted.

Rather than describe each spot (which will probably happen later), here's a photo montage of our six hour cruise:

Societe Brewing

Societe Brewing
Societe Brewing

Societe Brewing

The barrel room at Societe Brewing

White Labs. Yeast anyone?
White labs flight: Same beer, four different yeasts.

The tasting room at White Labs

White Labs' Specialties
White Labs light fixture.

The tasting room at AleSmith Brewing

Craig Hendry shows off our ride at AleSmith

A hard to beat lineup at AleSmith Brewing
AleSmith tasters

Council Brewing
A flight at Council Brewing

Ryan (@MTBeerFinder), Ryan (@ThirstyNoBeard) and Ryan Sean (@2BeerGuys)

Benchmark, indeed our Last Call for the trip.

The crew: Michael (A Plus Limos), Astrid (@BKLYNbeerbitch), Craig (@msbrewblog), Tom (@QueenCityDrinks), Ryan (@thirstynobeard), June (@nashbeergirl), Kendall (@beermakesthree), Cheryl (GrowlerFills), Alan (@GrowlerFills), Gina (@CraftBeer_Hound), Amber (@aljpeace), Amy (@CraftBeer_Hound), Ryan (@mtbeerfinder), Sean (@2beerguys) and (not pictured) Duke (@Dukester).

~ Follow Growler Fills on Twitter and Facebook

A Plus Limos provided transportation and trip planning guidance to us for free in the hope, but not the expectation, that we would write about our experience with their San Diego beer tour service. Our host Michael and driver Robert knocked it out of the park with a great tour and fantastic navigation though the challenging traffic to get us to a combination of well-known and up-and-coming breweries. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Happens When 15 Beer Bloggers Pile Into A San Diego Limo?

What happens when you pile 15 beer bloggers into a limo and drive them around the San Diego brewing scene?

We're about to find out.  Welcome to the Pre-2014 Beer Bloggers Conference.

Held this year in San Diego, we traveled down a couple of days early to enjoy more of the City and some hard earned vacation time.

In past years we've taken advantage of the pre-conference excursion, with last year taking us to Maine before the Boston conference.

When this year's excursion to Los Angeles didn't work for us logistically we began looking to create our own version to enjoy some of San Diego County's 91 (and growing) breweries.

As luck would have it, the craft beer lovers at A-Plus-Limos saw an opportunity for a little promotion of their own and reach out to several of us with an enticing offer of a free ride. That trip takes place tonight and will likely include Societe, White Labs, Ballast Point, AleSmith and perhaps a couple more. We'll let you know how A-Plus Limos does in case you want to schedule your own tour in this fantastic city.

Enjoying beer with friends is always one of the most memorable parts of this annual conference.  We kicked that off last night with dinner and a couple of beers with the 2BeerGuys crew, Amber, Sean and Ryan, down in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. The Hopping Pig has a wonderful variety of San Diego beers on tap in a lively  atmosphere in the heart of the Gaslamp.  I thoroughly enjoyed a Citra Saison from Refugee Brewing Co., certainly the first saison I've had featuring the citra hop.

Prior to that we checked out the Blind Lady Ale House in the Normal Heights neighborhood.  Only five years old, it has consistently been ranked among the top U.S. beer bars and entirely lived up to its billing.  Knowledgeable servers, a great, varied beer list, fantastic pizza and a laid back vibe all contribute to the kind of place that should indeed receive this kind of recognition.  A great conversation with manager Gary about the Ale House and San Diego beer was the clincher.

The conference officially gets going Friday afternoon.  We'll get updated craft beer industry numbers from the Brewers Association's Julia Herz, a keynote speech from Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., beer dinners at Stone and Karl Strauss and plenty more.

I'm moderating a panel on ethics and best practices in beer writing  (note the disclaimer above about getting the limo ride for free) on Saturday morning.  Sunday morning Ryan Newhouse and I will be giving a five minute report on what happens when two guys get blindly crazy enough to think they can run out and create a beer week.  (Hint: it can turn into something really cool.)

More reports on the way.