Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kettlehouse Community U-Nite to Benefit Run Wild Missoula

Each Wednesday, Kettlehouse Brewing Co.'s Northside location hosts a different non-profit organization for a fundraiser, with fifty cents of every pint sold donated to that organization.  This Wednesday, June 29, 2011, beer and running come together to support Run Wild Missoula

Run Wild Missoula's beer run will take off from the brewery (313 N. 1st St. W.) at 6:00 p.m.  It's a five mile loop of the downtown area that will have you thirsty and ready for a couple of pints when you're done.  (The Marathon training group meets at the brewery at 5:00 for it's Wednesday training run.)

Not up for a run? No worries. Stop by the brewery any time between 5:00 and 8:00 to take part of the fun, drink some great beer and support Run Wild Missoula and all the club does for runners and walkers of all abilities.  It was the same event in June, 2010 that sparked the idea for Run Wild Missoula's popular beer runs, held the last Wednesday of each month, even in the cold, dark winter months. What can I say? Running and beer is an excellent combination.

While you're at it, mark your calendar for a special beer run taking place during the weekend-long festivities surrounding the Missoula Marathon Weekend. Friday, July 8, a Marathon weekend edition beer run will start at the Badlander in Downtown Missoula at 6:00 p.m. and offer options for a 3, 4 or 5 mile run.  Head to Run Wild Missoula's website for more information.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Growler Fills Birthday

For every one of my many birthdays, I've had some form of chocolate for desert. Most often, that's been a chocolate cake with chocolate icing, though there was a stretch of chocolate pies in there, too.  It's a good streak to have.  According to Mom, many of those early cakes had a train on top, too.  Now, its far more likely to be paired with a great craft brew.

What goes great with chocolate cake? A great imperial stout, coffee porter, barrel oak aged stout, or any number of roasted malt featured brews. Think of it as a adult coffee.  This year's cake was a decadent chocolate turtle layer cake with dark chocolate frosting from Bernice's Bakery in Missoula.  Bernice's knows cakes and just about every other great pastry under the sun.  Probably my favorite pairing with any chocolate is Deschutes' The Abyss, an incredible imperial stout brewed with licorice and molasses and aged in French oak and oak bourbon barrels. For some reason, though, I couldn't quite pull out one of my remaining bottles for the celebration.

Instead, I reached for a bottle of Moylan's Russian Imperial Stout I'd been waiting to try.  The beer is solid black with a brown head the color of the caramel running through the cake. Aromas of roasted malt dominate with a touch of chocolate and milky sweetness.  The taste is thick and moderately robust with flavors of milk chocolate, coffee, and creamy smokieness.  Hops are never present except for balance and the brew never gets too sweet.  It's a solid effort as a Russian Imperial Stout, but a real winner when paired with chocolate cake. Despite being 10% abv, the alcohol is never really present in the flavor profile.

Pretty sweet t-shirt, eh?  Get yours here.

Harvest Moon Delivers a Curiously Good Imperial IPA

Elevator Imperial IPA, Harvest Moon Brewing Co.'s latest offering to find its way to a six pack, is a curious beer.  If someone told me it was a Belgian Dubbel, I'd say the alcohol was a little high, but would have no other reason to question the diagnosis.

The beer pours a wonderful copper color, a bit cloudy, with a thickish off-white head that disappears fairly quickly in my glass. For an imperial IPA, I expected the aromas to be a mixture of caramel malt and a good punch of hops. What I got was a spicy fruit aroma with underlying malt, reminding me of a Belgian ale. The taste did nothing to disuade that idea. An initial thick malt flavor is followed quickly by fruity hops and a spicy Belgian-like flavor. A lingering, pronounced bitterness fills the finish along with a touch of undelying sweetness.  The alcohol is present, but doesn't strongly contribute to the taste. Overall, I'd say it has a medium-full body and is very pleasant to drink.  I'm digging it and find it a rather curious interpretation of the style. Elevator's stats are 8.7% abv and 78 ibus, according to John at Harvest Moon.

Late last year, Harvest Moon began an expansion to take the brewery from a 17 bbl operation to a 30 bbl one, allowing 90 bbls to be brewed in a day versus 34 under the old system.  The expansion is done and the brewhouse is in the process of commissioning.  Initially, the expansion lets Harvest Moon broaden its market area, but hopefully will also allow them to get back to more seasonals and specialty brews.  Harvest Moon recently released cans of Great Falls Select, an American Pale Ale, in some cool, nostalgic packaging.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Few Upcoming Montana Beervents

Summer is here. Officially. Even actually, too. Today's temperature topped 80 degrees in Missoula for only the third time this year. We've been long overdue and the sunshine is very welcome. Now its time to start marking the calender for some upcoming Montana beervents.  Here's a few to get you started:

Third Annual Summer Fest, July 8 & 9, Stevensville, sponsored by Blacksmith Brewing Co.

Eighth Annual Dog and Grog Brewfest, July 16, 2011, Virginia City, 12:00 to 7:00 p.m., 10 Montana breweries.

Seventeenth Annual Bitterroot Brewfest, July 23, 2011, Hamilton, 3:00 to 10:00 p.m., 40 northwest breweries.

Second Annual Celtic Festival Missoula, July 30, 2011, Missoula, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., sponsored by Highlander Beer.  

Summer Snow Bus Brewfest, August 27, 2011, Whitefish, 3:00 to 7:00 p.m..

Third Annual Montana Brewers Festival, September 9, 2011, Bozeman, 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., 70+ beers from 25 Montana breweries.

Thirteenth Annual Maverick Brewfest, September 9, 2011, Missoula, 4:00 p.m., 50+ northwest beers.

What other summertime beervents should we be aware of?  Send us an email at: growlerfills @ gmail . com and we'll get the word out!

Monday, June 13, 2011

FLBC Releases Tripel, Supports Cats

To my knowledge, none of the cats involved in Flathead Lake Brewing Company of Missoula's Humane Society fundraiser got to wrap their paws around a glass of Belgian Triple during the brewery's launch party last Thursday.  Their loss is your gain, though the world is running a bit short on entertaining youtube cat videos.

FLBC's Tripel is the brewery's first new seasonal in several months and comes on the heels of an excellent version from Hamilton's Bitter Root Brewery.  FLBC's pours a cloudy, deep golden color with a nice white head.  The aroma consists of slightly sweet caramel malt with a touch of the traditional Belgian yeast spicyness.  The beer is very smooth and delicious right from the first sip. Traditional Belgian yeast flavors - a hint of spice and fruit -  mix with caramel malt to form a flavor profile that has a touch of candy sweetness, no noticeable hop presence, and a slight underlying alcohol presence. 

True to the style, the color and medium-light body belie the powerful punch from the alcohol which sits at about 9.4% for FLBC's Tripel.  Brewers accomplish the lighter body/higher alcohol feat by adding extra sugars to the mix - dextrose in FLBC's case, and honey in Bitter Root's recent Trippel.  This devilish combination makes for a beer that is as tantalizingly good as it is risky.

We're fortunate to have brewers throughout Montana experimenting with a wide variety of beer styles and FLBC's Belgian Tripel is a welcome and excellent new addition.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Good News About Beer Calories

Holy crap, this is interesting news. I admit I'm the kind of person who shies away from looking at the calorie count of my favorite foods while simultaneously feeling guilty for not paying closer attention.  Occasionally I'll look up some information on the web when I need a boost to my resistance. Sometimes actually seeing the calorie count is enough to dissuade me from diving in. 

The same is true for beer.  I know my favorite beers are extra high in calories, but I don't really want to know the details. While my runs lately have me burning anywhere from 500 to 2,700 calories at a pop, that's still not a license to indulge in anything I want. 

But as it turns out, all calories are not created equal.  In this Beer Clinic article from YourBeerNetwork.com, Dr. Carol Westbrook explains how our bodies react differently to calories from alcohol than they do from food. (Yeah, yeah, I  know some of you consider beer to BE food.)  Because the body does not completely metabolize alcohol - passing the unused calories out of the body rather than storing them like food - the calorie count listed for beer is different than what the body actually takes in.  Using Dr. Westbrook's equation, a 12 oz bottle of Sam Adams Boston Lager with 5% ABV has 180 declared calories, but only 94 calories when corrected for the different metabolism rate for calories. 

Check out Dr. Westbrook's complete explanation here.  That extra pint should come with a little less guilt tonight.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Growler Fills T-Shirts Ready to Roll

Now you can show your love for Growler Fills and look good, too, in a new Growler Fills T-shirt. These lightweight t-shirts have the Growler Fills logo on the front and an awesome iconic, tap handle and growler on the back.  They'll keep you cool in the summer while you're drinking your favorite craft brew and checking in on all the fun at Growler Fills.

We're working on an online store. Until we get it ready to go, send us an email and we'll hook you up right away (growlerfills @ gmail . com).  T-shirts are $18 and available in S, M, L and XL. Shipping is extra, but we'll keep it to a minimum.  If you're local to Missoula, we'll meet you for a pint and drop them off. Hey, we're proud to be a mom and pop operation here, having fun blogging beer and spreading some craft brew love. Hopefully we'll have the official store up and running soon.  Grab a T-shirt and support Growler Fills and craft beer, too.

For stat geeks:  These t-shirts are Tultex 3.2 oz, preshrunk, 65% polyester/35% cotton blend in heather brown and printed with non-toxic, pthalate-free inks.  Not sure what a pthalate is, but it's apparently not good. The tags are removable. (Shirts are a little browner than they appear in the pic.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Blackfoot River Adds 30 Bbl Fermenter, Keeps IPA Lovers Happy

Helena's Blackfoot River Brewing Co. installed a new 30 bbl Bavarian Brewing fermenter on Monday, a move which ensures Blackfoot can continue to brew a wide variety of beer styles while satisfying the cravings of Single Malt IPA lovers.  Owner and brewer Brian Smith picked up the tank in Colorado this past weekend after it arrived from the European manufacturer along with equipment destined for a new brewery in Telluride.

Prior to this addition, Blackfoot River's brewing systems consisted of six 15 bbl fermenters.  Frequent patrons know Blackfoot always has a wide variety of beers on tap and frequently brews up small batches of special offerings. With Singlemalt IPA making up nearly half the beer Blackfoot produces, space was getting tight for continued production of specialty beers.  Also, the extensive dry hopping of the Singlemalt IPA doesn't allow the yeast to be harvested for reuse, presenting yeast management challenges as well.  Brian says the new fermenter will be used exclusively for the Singlemalt, allowing a double batch to be fermented and freeing up space for other beer styles. 

Initially, the new fermenter will not result in much of a capacity increase, but should allow Blackfoot to make more styles, do more barrel aging, and more cask and bottle conditioned beers. A 30bbl conditioning tank is due to arrive in September which may result in a bit more capacity.  Once that's in place, Brian says there's no more room for equipment.  With Blackfoot's exceptional quality gaining more fans everyday, something tells me that won't be the end of the story. (Picture courtesy of Blackfoot River Brewing Co.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Streaking: Beer and Running Style

Tim Cigelske is THE Beer Runner.  (I, in contrast am content merely being A beer runner.) Tim writes the Beer Runner Blog for Draft Magazine, exploring the intersection between loving craft beer and living an active healthy lifestyle. For the year leading up to his 30th birthday, Tim decided to do something epic - run at least one mile and drink one beer for 365 days straight. 

Eight months in, Tim's streak is going well and he's had some interesting observations.  Not surprisingly, he's never felt more fit. What's surprised him has been his ability to remain injury free through the 1000+ miles and 360 beers of the first eight months.  In his latest blog post, "What craft beer can teach runners about injury prevention", Tim talks about his experience and gives some advice for those considering starting their own streaks.  Your own streak need not be a daily event, but adopting a regular routine of activity is a streak well worth accomplishing.  Tim's advice certainly applies as much to an epic quest as it does to a new commitment to regular physical activity: build slowly, diversify, and relax.

I'm not considering doing a daily run streak. I need and enjoy my rest days at the moment. For that matter, I'm not considering a daily beer streak either, though it wouldn't take much effort for me to step up and accomplish that.

I do have three specific running goals for this year. 1. Run my first marathon at the Missoula Marathon, July 10,  in under four hours; 2. run another 1/2 marathon in a new personal best time; and 3. join Run Wild Missoula's 1200 Club, having run 1200 miles during the calendar year.

I'm getting less and less confident in my first goal.  Not the running part, but the time goal.  I've put in all the work during our Run Wild Missoula training group and am trusting the training.  Yet, I'm realizing a sub-4 time is an ambitious goal for my first marathon.  My confidence was shaken this past Sunday when I bonked at mile 17 of a 20 mile training run.  Being the warmest day of the year had something to do with that. There's time to figure out what went wrong, but a 4:10 goal is more realistic. I won't feel like I failed if I don't make my time goal, but there's a little bit of magic associated with a sub-four hour time I'd like to embrace.

My second goal should not be a problem for two reasons.  In training for the marathon, thirteen miles suddenly feels like an "easy" distance.  Since I've only run one half marathon, my first and only race to date, I feel confident in being able to better that time. Now, I just need to sign up and keep up the training following the Missoula Marathon.

My third goal feels attainable as well.  Running 1200 miles in a year equates to an average of 100 miles per month (whoa! math skills!), or 23 miles per week.  As of today, I'm at 664 miles for the year, well ahead of schedule. I'm using this goal as a motivator to keep up the hard work and for the parade thrown for those who complete the task. (Wait. There's no parade?)

I have beer related goals as well, though they're more general in nature.  My primary goal is to continue to grow and expand Growler Fills. We'll have some cool t-shirts available once our supplier decides to get them done. If you've got some thoughts of what you'd like to see at Growler Fills, I'd love to hear them. If you'd like to start your own streak in running, beer, or both, I'd be happy to lend encouragement, advice, or a cold one.

Friday, June 3, 2011

FLBC of Missoula to Release Tripel at Special Fund Raiser

For a couple months now, FLBC of Missoula has been dropping hints about its newest seasonal beer, a Tripel. The wait for the new brew is almost over. On Thursday, June 9, 2011 from 4-8 p.m., FLBC of Missoula will launch the Tripel at a "Kill the Tripel - Support Adopt a Cat Month" event to raise money for the Humane Society of Western Montana.

According to the Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines, Belgian style Tripels are characteristically medium and clean in body, pale to light color, a very good balance of hops to malt, and a lightly sweet finish, though often with a complex, spicy character.  They tend to have a surprisingly light body compared to the amount of alcohol, which usually pushes into the 8 - 10%  a.b.v. range or more. Bitter Root Brewing's recent Belgian Honey Trippel hit the mark on all fronts and we're looking forward to trying FLBC's version.

At FLBC of Missoula's launch party, a glass of Tripel will run you $5.50 with $2.75 of each pint sold between 4 and 8 p.m. going to support the Humane Society of Western Montana in honor of Adopt a Cat Month. Wow. That has the making of a very large donation for a very worthy cause.  There will be no better time to try the Tripel, than FLBC's "Kill the Tripel - Support Adopt a Cat Month" event.  Just don't have so much of the Tripel that you get those two things reversed.

UPDATE: Apparently, FLBC of Missoula has changed the name of the event to "Drink a Keg - Save an Animal."  Good move. While the name still won't win any awards, it's less susceptible to oddly humorous comments from beer bloggers.