Work took me up to Kalispell this week which always gets me thinking about finding some new beer to try. Kalispell isn't what I'd call a beer town, but there's a few spots here and there that occassionally have something interesting on tap. That didn't pan out this time, but there's a better reason for going up to Kalispell from Missoula. Whether you take the route east of Flathead Lake or west of the Lake, you're forced to drive by a brewery (though Flathead Brewing hasn't quite reopened yet). Darn.
The west side takes you right by Tamarack Brewing Co. in Lakeside. Tamarack always has a couple of small batch brews on tap in addition to their regular lineup. This trip, they had brewed up a porter, a vanilla cream stout and one other I wasn't able to try. I chose a full pint of the Pour Man's Porter to go with Tamarack Grill's excellent fish tacos.
I also sampled the Vanilla Cream Stout. Sampling is always a difficult way to get a good feel for the beer, but I wasn't in a position to have more than one. It usually takes me a full pint to adjust to whatever I'm tasting and also gives me a chance to taste it through some temperature variations (I tend to like beers in the upper range of serving temperature recommendations, if not a little warmer.) Tamarack's vanilla cream stout has a pronounced vanilla flavor and, not surprisingly, a creamy mouth feel. The stout base is rather understated, showing only hints of roasted malts. It has 7% abv and 30 ibus. I detected a slightly bitter or roasted malty aftertaste which nicely complimented the vanilla. I'm now wishing I'd had a chance to have a full pint.