Friday, September 19, 2014

Butte-toberfest is Saturday, September 20

The Sixth Annual Butte-toberfest takes place this Saturday, September 20 on Park Street in Uptown Butte, Montana.  The event features 15+ Montana Breweries, a Kid’s Fall Festival, Stein Races, a best dressed contest, and plenty of food, live music, and more.

Only 1250 tickets/glasses are sold, so don't be left out! Tickets include a commemorative pint glass and four tasting tickets (three tickets - one full pint).  Additional tasting tickets are $1 each.

All funds raised from the event benefit Silver Bow Developmental Disabilities Council which plans to direct this year's funds toward building transition homes. Past funds have been used to purchase a bus,  open Gym Dandy, a free fitness center for people with disabilities, and building the Nutrition Education Station for teaching cooking skills.

Butte-toberfest runs from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Park Street below Quarry Brewing.

Here's the schedule for Saturday:

12:00pm - Gates Open
3:00pm- Stein Race Begin
4:00pm- Best Dressed Contest (Get out your dirndls and lederhosen)
5:30pm: Taster's Choice Award (vote for your favorite brewery)

Music Schedule:
12:00: Welcome to Butte-toberfest
12:30-1:30: Hellgate Hotshots
1:30-3:30: Al Aman, EJ Monthye, Tom and Judy Dempsey
3:30-4:30: Accordian Jam Session
4:30-7:00: Red Mountain Band

For more information head to or the festival's facebook page here.

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Special Run Wild Missoula Beer Run is Wednesday, Sept. 24

The monthly Run Wild Missoula Beer Run for September takes place at Flathead Lake Brewing Co. of Missoula on Wednesday, September 24, and is shaping up to be a very special one.

The September Beer Run serves as a birthday bash for Run Wild Missoula member/runner Brad Leonard who turns 80.  There will be free beer and other beverages along with food served in the third floor Galaxy Lounge.

As always, three and five mile running routes will be provided for runners and walkers of all abilities.  Run Wild will be collecting non-perishable food items for the Missoula Food Bank as well.  The fun starts at 6:00 p.m.  Flathead Lake Brewing Co. of Missoula is located at 424 North Higgins Avenue.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Big Sky Brewing Announces Ivan The Terrible Four-Packs

Here is some welcome news from Missoula's Big Sky Brewing Co. The brewery's sought-after Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout will be released this year in four-packs of 12 oz. bottles. In past years Ivan had been packaged in 750 ml bottles - great for sharing, but not so great when you wanted to enjoy this dark, chewy, potent stout by yourself.

I took a cellared bottle of 2012 Ivan to the Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego last month to share around a table of beer friends from Boston, MA to Portland, OR.

What had been a bit of a hot mess when released in 2012 (the alcohol was too prominent and the bourbon overpowering) had mellowed and blended incredibly well, earning great reviews from an expert crowd.  It appears the four-packs will not be the bourbon barrel- aged version (I have a request in for confirmation).

[Update:  Big Sky confirms the four-packs are not barrel-aged, and the brewery plans to release the traditional barrel-aged version in 750ml bottles later this year.]

According to Big Sky, the Ivan four-packs will be released starting next week.  Ivan usually does not sit on the shelves very long and it will be interesting to compare this version to the barrel-aged.  Here's the full text of Big Sky's press release:
September 16, 2014 - Missoula, Montana

Big Sky Brewing Company is pleased to announce the release of Ivan the Terrible, Imperial Stout, four-packs. The imperial stout will hit retail shelves the week of September 22nd and is known among craft consumers for its notes of coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and roasted cocoa.

The Missoula Montana based brewery first developed this recipe in 1996 when a Moose Drool recipe went awry. Head brewer, Matt Long recalls the scene clearly: “the power went out and I walked into the brewhouse to one of my co-workers straining dark malt through a tied together Moose Drool tee shirt. Even for us, this seemed a little weird. The gravity was too high for Moose Drool, so we ran with it and added other the dark malts to create our first imperial stout.” 18 years later Ivan the Terrible still holds true to a traditional English style imperial stout.

Ivan Terrible has long been a Big Sky Brewing Company taproom favorite. The brewery has produced the beer every year since its humble beginning, with the exception of 2011. The beer’s loyal fans were disappointed in its disappearance in the same year. Long states: ”We definitely heard from some angry Ivan fans. It was probably the equivalent of going to a Skynard concert and not hearing Free Bird.” The arrival of the four-packs should more than please the beer’s loyal fans.

Four-packs are a popular format for stronger beers–such as imperial stouts–due to the package size and convenience. The 12 ounce bottles allow the opportunity to have a big beer without committing to 22 ounce or 750 milliliter alternatives. “We’ve always been committed to creating packaging that balances the integrity of our product with our customer needs. It’s the reason we can, and it’s the reason we’re offering four-packs of Ivan,” stated Long.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Session No. 91: First Belgian

This month's Session* topic is hosted by Breand├ín Kearney at Belgian Smaak.  He asks us to reflect upon Belgian beer, tossing out a variety of directions to go:
Our blog is called ‘Belgian Smaak’. We love (and investigate, write about and drink) fantastic beers from other countries around the world, but the reason we started the blog was that we were blown away by the variety of flavours that Belgium offers in its beer and wanted to enjoy our own adventure in taste.

The rules are that there are no rules. There is incredible opportunity at your fingertips; whether it be to write about the first time you tried a Flemish red brown ale or the time you got your taste buds around a traditional Belgian witbier.
I missed the deadline for this month's Session thanks to additional writing assignments for my paying beer writing gig and an active day job.  In fact, Breand├ín is so on the ball he's already published the roundup of all the timely posts.  So if you want to read how others addressed the topic, head to the round up here.

I don't remember the first Belgian beer I tried, but I remember what I thought about it:  I hated it. Couldn't handle the flavors which were most decidedly different from those I commonly enjoyed. 

I was no American adjunct lager drinker, mind you.  By the time I tried my first Belgian beer I was a microbrew devottee in the mid-1990s always on the lookout for new beers. 

But like most craft beer explorers my palate has undergone an evolution.  Early on I was enamored with brown ales, porters and stouts.  Its a typical starting point and nothing to be ashamed about. Pale ales, initially, and later, IPAs, were too bitter. Belgians? Not even beer.

Pizza Port (Solana Beach) Belgian-style IPA
Imagine living in San Francisco and freely choosing not to patronize the famous Toronado Pub because it specializes in Belgian beers (less so these days).  That was me in 2002. 

Yet, as with all styles of beer I kept trying the occasional Belgian and Belgian-style beer.  It was long after I started enjoying IPAs that my taste buds clicked and I began to enjoy the spicy and fruity flavors imparted by traditional Belgian yeasts.  Who knows why that happens.  Your own mileage may vary. 

I continue to do this - occasionally torture my flavor sensors with things I do not enjoy with the understanding that it may pay future dividends. 

I do not have high expectations, though.  I've moved on from broad categories to individual flavors.  Rye is a perfect example.  It's an astringent, vile flavor which should have been left for bread.  Sorachi Ace hops are another.  Who wants lemony-horse's ass flavors in their beer?  Not me.

The journey continues.
*The Session, held the first Friday of each month, is a collective effort of beer bloggers around the world to write on a common topic once each month.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Bozeman Brewing's Bozone Hop Harvest is Sunday, Sept. 7

Bozeman Brewing Co.'s annual Bozone Hop Harvest picking party is this Sunday, September 7, beginning at the wonderfully early hour of 8:00 a.m.  (If head brewer Bill Hyland is there promptly at 8:00 a.m., I'll personally buy him a beer next time I see him - subject to the keg exchange noted below.)

Those with backyard hops can drop them off at the brewery on Sunday morning, or give the brewery a call in advance at 582-9142 to schedule a pickup.

Last year the happy hop pickers harvested over 200 pounds of hops which were in turn used by Bozeman Brewing Co. to produce Terroir Local Fresh Hop Ale.

The party takes place at the brewery at 504 North Broadway Ave. in Bozeman and runs until they're done picking the hops.  Head over to the Cateye Cafe and get your fill, then stop by to donate hops, help pick hops, or just watch the fun. In return, the brewery is providing free refreshments and the chance to experience this local tradition.

In the email I received from Bozeman Brewery announcing the event, I noticed they pilfered one of my pictures (the one here) for which they did not provide credit.  I'll call us even if they'll float me a keg (1/6 barrel would do it) of this typically excellent beer in exchange. We'll throw a hop drinking party. Who's in?

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Reminder: Draught Works Chain Reaction Fresh Hop Festival is Sunday, Sept. 7

It is shaping up to be a beautiful Fall-like weekend in Montana and there are plenty of beer events to take advantage of.  One of the more unique events is Draught Works Brewery's Chain Reaction Fresh Hop Festival, combining a bike relay race carrying hops to the brewery and a pedal powered gain mill to create a fresh hop beer this Sunday, September 7.

As it turns out, some rogue cattle got into the Fais Do-do Farm and took out half the hop plants, so Draught Works is also asking for area landowners to consider donating their ripe hops to the effort. (Contact the brewery at (406) 541-1592 if you have some to donate.) 

See our earlier post with photos from past events here.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Maverick Brewfest is Friday, September 5

The 16th Annual Maverick Brewfest again takes place in Caras Park in Missoula this Friday, September 5 from 4:00 to 10:00 p.m.

More than 40 beers are expected along with food vendors and live music with Sister Soul & the Medicine.

Tickets are $10 which include a tasting glass and two beer tokens.  Additional tokens will be available.

Proceeds benefit the Missoula Athletic Council and its mission to support youth sports by providing financial support for individuals, teams, and clubs. 

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