Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where to Find Beer: Blacksmith Brewing Co., Stevensville, MT

If you're not paying attention while driving down the no-longer-sleepy streets of Stevensville, Montana's oldest community, you just might miss Blacksmith Brewing Company. And that would be a crying shame. This is a great place. I wish they would lay off the hops sometimes, but that's nitpicking. And really, I'm not just talking about the beer. Blacksmith Brewing Co. is the total package: good beer in a great setting with a great vibe.

On my third visit, after hiking in the Bitterroot several months ago, we were enjoying a Pulaski Porter when we noticed Tom Catmull setting up for some live music.  It didn't take long at all for the taproom to fill up and the music, beer and conversation flowed freely.  And nothing about that is unusual at Blacksmith. Live music is a Wednesday and Saturday staple at Blacksmith - as much a staple as the consistently good beer and friendly, comfortable atmosphere.

The building once housed a blacksmith shop and many of the interior finishes were recycled or preserved from the structure during the remodel. Burned into the barnwood walls are brands from the valley's ranches. They've got food from local vendors a couple nights a week and you can bring in your own or order up from some of the local restaurants and have it delivered.  Even kids are welcome (there's root beer on tap) and contribute to the welcoming, community hangout feel of this place. I've been to a lot of Montana's breweries and it is hard to imagine one with a better vibe than Blacksmith.

The beer is good, and I think the Pulaski Porter is one of my favorite robust porters. On a recent visit, I was lucky enough to try a pint of the Pulaski Porter aged for two weeks in bourbon barrels. (Thumbs up to the Montana Brewers Association for getting its hands on a bunch of whisky barrels and offering them up to its members breweries.) Two weeks was more than enough time to contribute a strong bourbon aroma and taste to this already great porter. But don't expect to find it since they were down to their last few gallons (ah . . . the beauty of lucky timing). The seasonals change frequently and have included a variety of styles. Small batch, quickly rotating (and disappearing) brews are a hallmark of many of Montana's breweries ensuring there is always something new to try. 

Mike, the brewer, is obviously a hop head and I found their initial offerings from the Amber through the IPA to have a fair amount more hop bitterness than the styles would call for, or my malt loving palate would prefer.  So, I was glad to find the Backwoods Barley Wine on tap during my last visit, showing that a hop head brewer can do a fantastic job featuring malt. The PD Pale Ale is a great brew highlighting hop flavors and aroma, but I'll leave it to you to ask the Blacksmith folks what the initials represent.  Next time you find yourself 25 miles south of Missoula, get off Highway 93, head into Stevensville and stake out a seat.  

2 comments:

  1. You hit Blacksmith right on the head. Great facility, great people, but too hoppy. If the brewer would ease up on the hops, the place would be perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  2. NEVER! the hops are amazing, I feel I have to add this for the hop heads such as myself. Each brewery has it's own taste though, so nitpicking is normal when comparing brews. Mike came from Stone brewing out of CA, to Big Sky, and now to Blacksmith. Stone is a very heavily hopped brew in most cases, so it's no wonder that Mike has carried that into Blacksmith's brews.

    ReplyDelete