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Beer trip to Missoula Montana, by Shaqfeasel

August 16, 2010

Another year (41) rolled for Shaqfeasel and I wanted to do something  to celebrate.  Last year (2009) I traveled to Boulder and had a great time. This year  I was more inclined for a road trip with the family.  I had never been to Montana and the Missoula area had several breweries in the region.  So I packed up the family and make the 8 hour quest to Missoula.

7.5 hours of beautiful landscape later, our first stop was Big Sky Brewery.  Most NW beer drinkers are familiar with their flagship beer Moose drool brown ale.   As you enter the large two storied entry is a large gift shop (very cool swag) and a bar on the right.  Since they are large production brewery they are not allowed (Montana state Law…more later) to serve and sell pints.  They are allowed to serve samples only.  The limit is 4 per day…so…I (of course) had 4 (FREE).

Pale Ale. A nice pale with a nice fruitiness

Moosedrool Brown…Brown ales are becoming my favorite lately and this never disappoints…a bit drier than a traditional brown..just the way I like it.

Big Sky IPA.  I had this before in a bottle and was a little disappointed, but the draft version was excellent..nice floral finish

Seasonal Saison…This 10% ale packed a punch.  I can never judge Belgians very well, but this was very drinkable.

After I loaded up with a growler of Moose Drool and the family loaded up with swag, we drove to Kettlehouse

massive bar at the northside location

Northside Taproom.  A large open brick building with a mammoth long wood bar and wood floors. This is their new facility where they brew beers for canning….Yes cans.  Bottles are not real popular in these parts.  Missoula is  a very active outdoorsy area, and bottle are difficult to pack to the trails.  The state has banned bottles on the river, so the breweries can their beers and offer alternatives to the glass growler.  A large 60oz  Nalgene growler and a 40oz steel canister was available.  OK..back to the beer. I ordered a sampler of 4 beers they offer.

Lake Missoula Amber. A craft beer drinkers amber.  Well very well balanced amber.  Not too sweet, not too hoppy.  Robust but very quaffable.

Eddy Out Pale ale. Typical pale…not one of my favorites

Double Haul IPA.   A very good NW IPA

Cold Smoke Scotch Ale. Incredible, Awesome, Amazing.  A reason to drive 8 hours.  Malty and Smooth and not over sweet.

Honoring my DDs bored factor, we moved on to Kettlehouse Myrtle street location.  I was thinking this facility would be pretty much the same…boy I was wrong. This facility had a totally different look and vibe.  They had 12 or so beers on tap (I think) I had the bartender work me up a sampler of 8 beers.

Highlights of the sampler

all gone....

Fresh Bongwater.  This was my favorite of the sampler.  A light dry beer with very fresh snappy character.  Beer is

made from fresh Hemp seeds (THC removed)

Olde Bongwater Porter. Another amazing beer.  Rich, chocolaty, nutty.

Hopnosis Pale.  Very hop forward pale ale.

Next stop, Bayern Brewery. ..(backstory)  A year or so ago Bayern came out to Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse in

The family enjoying the beer garden

Snohomish.  Jurgen came with several beers and loads of stories.  His Schwarzbier was incredible. From that time on I aways wanted to visit Back to 2010, the DD drove me to Bayern.  A unique building from the outside…stripmall castle like.  Inside is a unique atmosphere..comfortable and almost cavelike..(I may have had too many samplers at this point) I grabbed a pint of schwarzbier and beer card…Beer card?  Montana breweries (under 10,000 barrels a year) are allowed to serve pints, but can only serve 48oz daily and must close by 8 pm.  This is to prevent competition with the taverns.  I would like to stat spewing f-bombs , but this is a family blog.    Back to the Beer

Schwarzbier. Dark, malty and a very clean finish.

Dumptruck… A light cloudy, unfiltered summer beer.  A very unusual german beer, but great for a hot summer day.

Day two.

A Rye and finally a menu

After a great day at Playfair’s Splash Mountain, I was thirsty and we headed 45 miles thru the Bitteroot Valley to the small town of Hamilton.  Hamilton hosts the Bitterroot Brewing Company.  Bitteroot is the only brewery that offered a full menu.  I ordered some mahi tacos (yum) and the DD ordered some spinach dip (yum yum)  I ordered a couple pints

Rye Pale Ale.  One of my favorite styles and hard to find, this did not disappoint. This was more of a session beer and very quaffable.

Single Hop.   An unfiltered pale ale with CTZ hops.  Grapefruit taste and aroma.  I really liked this one.

I did have a small sample of the Brown and it was very tasty.  This would be a nice place to make a couple visits to try all their beers.

Next and final stop, Blacksmith Brewing in Stevensville.  By far, this was our favorite brewery.  An old 1908 blacksmith shop, it oozed of history and character.  The family and I jumped up to the bar and I ordered the sampler

Brickhouse blonde.  A beer that every small town must have, a gateway beer.  Served with an orange…tasty.

Montana Amber.  Low hopped Amber…slightly malty.

PD Pale Ale. My fav, a session pale with a great hop finish.

Pulaski Porter. A robust porter…high in alcohol, 7% a good winter beer.

Cutthroat IPA. A nice citrus IPA.

After the sampler I ordered a pint of PD Pale and chatted with the bartender and the patrons at the bar.  My wife got chatting with a man that got attacked by a grizzly and lived.  Great story and it got me another tasty pint.  To celebrate the weekend, I had a steel growler filled and headed back to our camp cabin in Missoula.  I suggest the road trip to anyone, wonderful country, friendly people, no sales tax and GREAT beer.

FTC Info: Unless otherwise specified, everything was paid for.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2010 4:28 pm

    Sounds pretty fun, but man, those laws are retarded! It would drive me batty.

    • DraughtE permalink*
      August 16, 2010 8:54 pm

      I thought Washington’s laws were crazy.

  2. Laurie permalink
    October 1, 2010 10:24 am

    Just learned a lot about beer, Was great to see the pictures of you and your family too 🙂

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