Where to Find Beer: Lone Peak Brewery, Big Sky, MT
A business related matter took us to Montana's Big Sky Resort this past weekend and that was good for a couple of reasons. We got to ski some of the 150 great runs at Big Sky Resort after an extended absence from skiing. And we got to pay a visit to Lone Peak Brewery.
Lone Peak Brewery sits just off the main highway in the Meadow Village area of Big Sky. As we pulled up, a light snow started to fall and a young moose was browsing the plantings just outside the entrance. I looked around to see if someone was orchestrating the scene from behind a curtain, but these kinds of welcomes are common at Big Sky.
We sat down at the bar and ordered up a couple of pints. One Lone Peak IPA and a brand new Sheepeater Bock. They'd put the bock on tap 20 minutes before our arrival. (I love it when that happens). The IPA is a slightly hazy, medium copper color with a small off-white head (the head might be bigger, but these were FULL pints being poured). Floral hop aromas precede a medium-bodied IPA featuring balanced floral and citrus hop flavors over a good caramel malt base. The light, lingering hop bitterness in the finish contributes to a pleasantly rich IPA that we enjoyed several more times during our stay at Big Sky.
The Sheepeater Bock was a deep copper color with a cloudy complexion and a small off-white head. The aroma is of slightly sweet caramel malts. The flavors are smooth caramel malt with a slight toasted flavor in the finish. Hops are present only to keep this one from getting too sweet.
I also ordered up a Bourbon Barrel Stout because . . . well . . . I'm a sucker for those kinds of things. Lone Peak made their Bourbon Barrel Stout by taking their flagship Hippy Highway Oatmeal Stout and aging it for three months in bourbon barrels. The barrels are 18 year Elijah Craig bourbon barrels from the Heaven Hills Distillery in Kentucky. The result is a wonderfully smooth stout with tons of vanilla flavors riding on top of bourbon undertones and a stout base with light hints of chocolate. It is jet black, medium/full bodied with a dry finish. Excellent.
Like most of Montana's breweries, the place is very lively and social. Lone Peak is structured in the same way as Tamarack Brewing, where the brewery sits in a separate space and is a different business from the taproom/restaurant, but maintains the feel of a traditional brew pub. That's a good thing because the taproom is able to stay open later. We struck up a conversation about Big Sky and beer with some folks visiting from Vermont and later had a great conversation with Andy, the assistant brewmaster. You'll find Lone Peak's brews all around the Resort, even at the top of the Ramcharger lift at 8,800 feet elevation at the Pinnacle Restaurant. They're perfect after a day on the slopes.