Craft Beer in South Western Montana

Our Lady of the Rockies watches over the people of Butte Montana. This is the largest statue in the Western United States.   (Photo Montana Outdoor)

 

On a recent trip with a dear friend, I managed to visit all of the breweries in and around Butte, Montana. Just before that I had reached my 500th unique brewery with my husband. We enjoy  traveling around to the different breweries when we can and chatting with the owners and brewers. While we have met some incredibly hospitable folks in the last few years, nothing parallels the humbled hospitality of the people in South Western Montana.

The brewers of Butte Brewing Company brewing the famous IPA. (Photo Butte Facbook page)

We started out at Butte Brewing Company and enjoyed the Nelson, Gold Digger Blonde, and the Pale Ale. I was bummed that I was just missing the IPA, but I guess that means I will have to go back! We had a great little chat with the head brewer, owner, and brewers assistant. Butte Brewing Co. opened it’s doors in 2015 after the original Butte Brewing Co. had shuttered for more than fifty years.

My tour continued onto Muddy Creek where we tried their taster tray- the Crazy Beautiful Pale Ale was the fav. The taproom is located in the upstairs of an old building right in downtown Butte. They make it easy for beer travelers to take their favorite beers home in these small, plastic, recyclable bottles.

The brew house at the Vault (the taproom) at Philipsburg Brewery in Montana.

On day two of my tour we headed out to Philipsburg Brewery. The brewery and taproom are located right off the main drag in town. They opened the brewery in 2012. Up the road they have the main brewery and production facility where they brew and can (aluminum bottles) all of the beers for the wholesale market. The large brewery is a 50 barrel brew house and sits beside an old hop kiln that was built in the 1870’s. They plan to eventually turn the old hop kiln into their barrel room where they will house all of the wood barrel for their barrel aged and sour beer program.

The original hop kiln next to the 50 barrel brew house where Philipsburg brews most of their beers in Philipsburg, Montana.

The popular Tramway Ale in the aluminum bottles at Philipsburg Brewery in Montana.

The taproom has a cozy feel with tables and bar stools that sit right beside the small brew house allowing guests to feel like they are actually sitting inside the brewery while sipping their beers. Some folks even get to chat it up with Ben (lead brewer) while he is working on the beers.

I met one of the owners at the taproom along with head brewer, Mike, lead brewer, Ben, and sales and marketing gal, Maddy. They were all so kind, taking time out of their day to share the Philipsburg story with me and show me around both facilities. For being in such a country like setting, Philipsurg Brewery is very innovative in the technology they use and the way they package their products- they are the only craft brewery packaging their beers in aluminum bottles. It’s brilliant, they travel well just like cans, and it’s a great way to bring beer camping, boating, or to any other summer activity. The beers are all fantastic! They are all low in alcohol and loaded with flavors. Ben, the lead brewer names all of the beers, so not only does he brew his own line up and assist Mike, he gets to come up with all of the creative, fun names. The whole crew is small, like most successful family owned businesses, they all wear many hats. That aspect made the experience feel more genuine and charming.

Here are the brews I had:

  • Razzui – Oregon raspberries, raspberry wheat. 5.2% ABV
  • Otter water – hefe 4.5% ABV
  • Gonk Amber- amber hybrid 5.8% ABV
  • Corners porter- coffee porter brewed with a pound of coffee 6.6% ABV
  • Irish twins session red 3.7% ABV
  • Ginns Best Bitter – Named after a man who lived off the grid and was kind of scary when you’d first meet him, but was really a very nice guy – similar to a bitter beer, people see the word bitter and think it’s going to taste bitter when in fact it’s actually an older term for a sweeter style beer.
  • Rope Swing – A Saison aged in Chardonnay barrels from Sonoma County! That’s a pretty cool little fact. Their distributor has contacts and clients in Sonoma County so they were able to buy barrels from local wine producers right in my own backyard. Small world. Ben has always wanted to name a summer beer rope swing. Saison means “season” and during the summer season being in the water on rope swings is what people love to do so it made sense.

Philipsburg Brewery is worth the stop if you’re in the area! Great beer, great people.

 

Quarry Brewing – “We Dig Beer”.

The last beer stop of the trip was Quarry Brewing – “we dig beer” is their slogan. I met with Chuck and Lyza Schnabel, owners. Chuck, the brew master showed me through all of their beers on draft as well as a few special beers that he had in barrel. He was diligent with my friend who is not a beer fan, but she does enjoy wine, so he went over several beers with her until finding one that she fell in love with (it was the sour! Most wine people end up gravitating towards the sour beers, they’re more wine-like). 

Chuck is a veteran who ended up in Lakewood Washington working for Rams Restaurant and Brewery. He worked there for a number of years as the head brewer overseeing all of the restaurants beer programs. In 1998 he started the Washington Brewers Guild. Chuck and his wife later decided to move back to Montana to get away from the “rat race”. They settled back in Butte and opened Quarry Brewing in 2007 on Galena Street. When they quickly grew out of that location, they purchased the old Grand Hotel on Broadway in uptown Butte. There they have space for their brew house, the taproom, easy access from the street into the brew house for transporting malt and grain on brew days, a bakery, and a large room that is available for rent for large groups, parties, and special events.

The new brew house at Quarry Brewing.

The upstairs events room in Quarry Brewing. This room can be rented out for special events, parties, dinners, and music.

The building was originally built to be labor temple where masons, construction workers and plumbers would sleep and live, sharing one bed among three men who would switch every eight hours – while one man was sleeping the other two were working. The brewery (the bottom floor) was an old boxing ring: High Altitude Boxing Ring.

The couple cares about the buildings and towns history and has done everything in their power to preserve what they can from reusing heater pieces and old door knobs to create accents in the updated rooms to preserving most of the original tile flooring. The building is stunning, it’s evident that a whole lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into fixing it up and now they can be proud of the brewery space they have built.

The street entrance into the Grand Hotel. The reception area where they kept the library card holder in the back and cut the heater arms and used them in the front of the desk as decor.

The beer is off the charts – and they are all gluten reduced. They use a clarifying agent that they purchase from White Labs in San Diego to create a clearer beer and it happens to be the same agent that is used to make brews that are gluten reduced (just 5 parts per million). Years ago when the mines were active, Butte was about 90% Irish, and the Irish and Italians who originally came to Butte were gluten intolerant – nobody knew it at the time and they couldn’t figure out why they were all getting so sick. In later years, it was discovered that those two heritages had an intolerance to gluten. Chuck and Lyza now brew their beers with little gluten to show homage to the original Butte settlers.

My favorite brews:

The sampler tray at Quarry Brewing in Butte, Montana.

Basalt India Black Ale, Galena Gold, Gneiss IPA, and the Ryolite Rye Pale Ale. They’re all amazing. I bought a growler and left it for my pal to fill up when they return in July :). I can’t wait to return to Butte and visit Quarry again to see what other cool new beers Chuck is working on.

Southern Montana is doing some great things in the craft beer realm, it was a pleasure meeting the people behind the great beers. I can’t wait to return and see all of the new things they are working on!

Cheers!

 

 

 

NORCAL BEER GEEKS FESTIVAL TOMORROW!

NORCAL BEER GEEKS FESTIVAL TOMORROW!

 

St. Florian's hops from "Fresh Hop on the Engine" beer. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

St. Florian’s hops from “Fresh Hop on the Engine” beer. (Photo by Tim Vallery)

Don’t miss the 3rd annual NorCal Beer Geeks Festival TOMORROW at the Petaluma veterans building. A fun beer event with a great cause. Here are the details on Sonoma Magazine. 

Hope to see you there!

Cheers,
Jess

Grand Teton: Beers & Burgers

I have had beers from Grand Teton and heard a lot about the brewery, but have yet to visit. Max Augustine, a fellow beer lover, contacted me about contributing on Moxie Lady. I figured that a guy who loves to write about craft beer and food, well, why not? Victor, Idaho sounds like a great place to enjoy some cold brews, and after Max’s article, I have added it to my beer travel list!

Beers and Burgers in Victor, Idaho

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If you love craft beer and the great outdoors, an excellent place to go is Victor, Idaho. Near the Idaho/Wyoming border at the foot of the Teton Mountain Range, Victor is a great staging point for all sorts of mountain biking, hiking and camping.

Victor, Idaho has more to offer than just being an outdoorsman launch point, they also are the home to a fantastic brewery, the Grand Teton Brewing Company. Despite being an Idaho native and avid craft beer lover, I had yet to sample anything the good folks at Grand Teton had brewed up so I went into this with no idea what to expect. Looking over the tap selection, the first beer I asked to try was the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Black Cauldron because, well, it’s all in the name. It was wondrous, but only having a small sampler would not suffice, so I ordered a glass.

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Grand Teton Tap Room

There is, in my opinion, no beer made by humans now or ever before, that is as good as the Whiskey Barrel-Aged Black Cauldron. It is an Imperial Stout that they aged in whiskey barrels, giving it a healthy 10.25% ABV and ~54 IBU and is just the best. As a note, they do not bottle this particular version of Black Cauldron nor do they fill growlers with it. You can only get it on tap, at the brewery. I feel like the words do not exist to describe this brew properly, so I will leave it to you to go there and taste it for yourself.

Shortly after arriving, a man came in and asked the bartender “Do you guys have a session beer?” Prior to this point, I had heard the term but never bothered to inquire further. I soon learned what ‘session beer’ was and gave their version of this Ale 208 a try. Coming in at 4.7% ABV and 16 IBU, it was tasty and easy to drink. I continued to sample the rest of what was on tap and I failed to find a single beer I did not like.

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Both my wife and I were hungry prior to going to the brewery and so after we left, we made our way back into town looking for a place to eat. With her in the driver seat (because she was sober) it did not take but 5 minutes in the car before we saw the sign shown above, parked, and went inside. Once again, I was impressed with what we found. A small burger joint playing great music with a friendly staff. I ordered the Yellowstone Burger and my wife had the quarter pound burger with avocado. Now, I read the menu, but being a bit drunk, I guess I failed to realize that a half pound burger is going to be rather large.

http://jessposhepny.com/

 

About Max:

“I am a creative writer at heart but branching out into the world of blogging. A craft beer enthusiast, I love to sample the fine beers of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. My wife Heather has stuck by me through it all and she is the reason for everything positive in my life. Follow me on Twitter @Max_Augustine1”

 

 

Cheers!

Russian River Brewery- My Neighborhood Hangout Spot

Over the last several years I have traveled to over 370 breweries across the U.S. and written about the various beers, taprooms, people, and food. I have been asked why I have yet to write about Russian River, the best brewery in the U.S. and my neighborhood hangout….I have been pondering what exactly I should share about RRBC. Blind Pig is my favorite IPA just doesn’t quite seem like enough…but it is true and it’s the best craft brew made.

I have been bellying up to that bar for many years now, and had my fair share of time spent in line waiting for Younger, and popped in right at opening to try to obtain the “big bottle” days in a row… and finally I realized what the craft beer community needs to know about my beloved RRBC is not what everyone around the world thinks they know or reads about in the press.

After careful thought, I finally have something to share about one of my favorite places: it’s a wholesome locals spot, the bartenders are human, they like to educate people, they do get offended by rudeness, and the kitchen only has one oven so the pizzas and Pliny bites do take time. I am always amazed at how people just expect RRBC to be this magical place that can make pints and food simply appear and how people get angry when they cannot get the beer at home, or when the release gets blabbed about so they cancel it. Downtown Santa Rosa has some businesses that probably complain about the lines. Guess what? During Younger this year I never waited in line once, I was not the first to try it this year, or any year, but I was able to drive by a few times after work and miraculously there was no line, so I went in to indulge. For the beatification bottle release when there was a line around the entire block, I stayed away and drove passed around 2pm and went in only to have Amir ask if we wanted 6 or 12. They still had it. So if you’re looking for the excitement of waiting in line {like a tailgate with friends} then do it, otherwise, wait until the excitement dies down and you can go in without a huge line!

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The bartenders have finally warmed up to my husband and me and I’m not going to lie, it definitely makes the experience much more enjoyably. They’re funny, nice, make small talk, and even have Blind Pig in a glass before we can walk to the end of the bar. It’s sort of like my favorite coffee shop…or Cheers. We all wanna go where everybody knows our name, right?

I love the pizza, even if the crust is a little soft one day, I still love it using a knife and fork. The Mickey, New Yorker, and Mama Mia are my favs. The Drew bites are must if you are looking for a snack, but ask for them served flat. Health nut? The Asian chicken salad is dynamite.

I’ve gone to many of the events they put on over the years: the Friendship lunch was by far at the top of my list of favorites; a nearly 8 hour day eating food and drinking amazing beers. Any menu that had Pliny as the palate cleanser is bound to be amazing. Vinnie and Natalie took a photo at the release of Younger one year drinking Hop Slam and Vinnie gave one to my husband. We ended up going to Bell’s that April on our craft beer and baseball honeymoon.

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Every trip we go on, we always bring a case of Pliny to give to people who are nice, give us good service, and are just downright cool people {who actually know of Pliny- surprisingly, there are many who do not know about RRBC}. Once in NYC at a cool beer bar and pizza place, Kiabacca, we ended up there every night on that trip, the bartenders knew us by day 2 and were super cool and knowledgeable. We put a Pliny on the bar and the light in the bartenders eyes, man, it was epic. One of the guys actually started to tear up he was so happy.

Some tips in making everyone’s experience at RRBC more enjoyable:

  1. Leave your growlers in your car until you’re ready to go {Especially if you have more that two} the space is limited at the bar. If you have a table, then suit yourself.
  2. If you’re sitting at the bar, make your case purchases when you’re ready to cash out so others around you are not crowded.
  3. The seat at the end of the bar is for one person, not two.
  4. If you put your name on the list for a table and you find a seat outside or at the bar, let the host know so others can take the table.
  5. Order your pizza and bites right away so that if the kitchen is really busy, you’re food should be out by the first sip of your second beer.
  6. You do not have to finish every sample in the entire sampler, but you should get the full sampler, it’s the best in my opinion out of 368 breweries. It’s worth the $22.
  7. WASH your growler.
  8. Don’t even think about bringing in another breweries growler, RRBC will not fill anyone else and they have asked that other breweries do not fill theirs.
  9. Bring your I.D. other wise you will get a pizza stamp 🙁 http://jessposhepny.com/category/moxies-best-of/

I’m thrilled that I have such a cool place to go grab a bite to eat and a pint right in my backyard. Cheers to great beer!

 

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Moxie’s Chicken and Vegetable Soup with St. Florian’s 48/96

St. Florian’s Brewery has been a longtime favorite of mine since they opened just a few years ago. They are an awesome family and are striving to help firefighters and those in need. They’re constantly donating to local charities and they just care. I like to recommend local businesses but also those who support the community. St. Florian’s makes great craft beer and deserve a try if you have not been there yet!

Moxie’s Chicken and Vegetable Soup

with St. Florian’s 48/96

 

You’ll Need:

4 medium sized chicken breast, cleaned of fat, and cut into thirds

4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped in rounds

7 stalks of celery, sliced thick

2 turnips, peeled and chopped into 2cm cubes

10-15 cremini mushrooms cut in halves then sliced

½ red onion, chopped

6 zucchini, cut in half then sliced thick

2 quarts vegetable stock {homemade if possible}

Olive oil for cooking

2 cups St. Florian’s sessionable 48/96 ale

 

Method:

In a medium sized stock pot, over high heat, lightly coat with olive oil, and add in the chicken. Sear on each side about 2 minutes, just to to caramelize for flavor and to seal in the juices. Add the St. Florian’s 48/96 to the pot along with the onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and turnips. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside while deglazing the pan with broth as needed. Place the chicken back in the pot and add in enough broth to cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper to taste, and half of the sliced zucchini, then reduce heat to low and cover, let cook on low for an hour {until the chicken falls apart}. Add in the rest of the zucchini {so that some is bright green and slightly al dente when served}, stir and continue to let cook until all of the chicken is shredded.

Serves 8, or makes enough to freeze for lunches and dinner for the week.

Cheers!

StFlorians Beer

Best Damn Dirty 30 Ever

My husband and I went to my favorite place on earth for my 30th birthday: New York City. We went to see some friends, hang out, eat great food, see the city, and drink beer. My husband had something more up his sleeve…he arranged with Charlie Palmer and his Chef at Aureole a special dinner menu based around all of my favorite foods. He invited three of my favorite people to spend the evening with us and mailed a bottle of my very favorite champagne ever: the Charlie 1985, so we could toast to me with this special wine. It was incredible. Every minute of this evening was special and filled with laughter.

We had a stunning five course meal that incorporated every single thing I love, some things in an obvious way and others not so obvious but very creative. I love carrots, watermelon, pot roast, ahi, foie gras, macadamia nuts, garlic, mustard, celery, truffles, and so many other things… my husband sent this list of what he knows I love and we were “awed”.

Some of the highlights:

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~Foie Gras terrine and pan seared…

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~Wild Dover Sole with black truffles, celery root & apple puree, and whole grain mustard vinaigrette.

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~Dry aged rib eye, braised short rib agnolotti {This was the ode to my favorite dish in the world: Pot Roast!} with roasted garlic and miso butter.

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~My birthday dessert… WOW.

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The food was all incredible, rich, artful, and made the entire experience one to remember. BUT one of the best parts of this whole meal was the simple efforts the chef made to accommodate my friend who doesn’t eat seafood and didn’t want to cause a scene by not eating it. They prepared two dishes for him that looked exactly identical to the rest of the tables, only in chicken instead of sole and watermelon instead of ahi, served him first and explained the dish, then served us all. My friends level of comfort wasn’t compromised by the thought of eating fish- it was awesome. We have dined at so many high-end restaurants and never had this personal touch- the chef is brilliant. Dining at Aureole is an experience everyone who has a passion for food should try.

 

 

 

Aureole on Urbanspoon

Ninkasi

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 Ninkasi is a cool spot. They have a nice big outdoor area with fire pits to sit and chill because the inside is rather small. The beers of course, are great. We have been fans of a lot of the beers we get in California but we were super impressed with the single hopped series. 

They do samplers of all their beers and will sell growlers of anything.

Ninkasi Brewery on Urbanspoon

Oakshire Brewery

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Oakshire was decent. The IPA was good, we bought some cans to go. They have several beers to choose from or you can do a taster of all of the beers. Surprisingly the Gnome beer was one of my favorites.

Oakshire Public House on Urbanspoon

Old Ivy Brewery & Taproom

Old Ivy has the mini keg growlers, they are the best growler of all the growlers- they keep the beer fresh for so long and they’re easy to pack. They have a beer list with a lot of really great guests beers so we liked this place most because you can buy a keg growler and fill it with 10 Barrel.

Old Ivy Brewery & Taproom on Urbanspoon

Dirty Hands Brewing

In the sleepy little town of Vancouver, we found Dirty Hands inside a building that looked like an old catering company. It was quiet but the gal behind the bar was very cool. She came form San Diego and knew her beers. Since we were heading into Portland from Seattle, we still had quite a bit of Pliny and Blind Pig left to trade. We mentioned Russian River to her and she lit up so we gave her two and she gave us a growler! It was rad.

The beers were good. Fav beers: the Shitty Brown {Well… just because} and the Steel Monkey IPA.

They do some food there and they seem like a small team just trying to make good beer and make it happen. I’m glad we stumbled upon it.

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Dirty Hands Brewing on Urbanspoon