The soon to be Legend of Jeremiah Johnson

Like John Henry and Paul Bunyan, the name Jeremiah Johnson conjures up an image of a heavily muscled mountain man with a thick beard, a deep rumbling voice like rolling thunder, who may have at some time wrestled a grizzly bear or two.

But despite his prodigious amount of facial hair, Jeremiah Johnson is not a character out of American folklore, nor is he a bull frog, and I only wish he were a good friend of mine since he’s the kind of friend every craft beer lover dreams of having because his beer brings joy to you and me.

Jeremiah and his wife Katie took ownership of The Front Brewing in Great Falls, MT in 2018 and rebranded the brewery, subsequently adding to Montana folklore by giving it his name. They source the ingredients for their beer locally to ensure the freshest, most flavorful beers with that little extra something that you can only find in Montana.

Jeremiah himself has a warm personality that will make you feel like old friends as soon as you shake his hand. And it is obvious that he is very passionate about crafting the finest hand-crafted beers.

You’re probably thinking, “He sounds great, but what about the beer?”

Well, their flag ship beer Mountain Man Scotch Ale is so good, it will have you feeling the breeze between your knees and hearing the pipes on the evening breeze.

His Golden Bobcat Pale Ale, brewed to pay tribute to MSU’s (Montana State University) agricultural heritage, uses five varieties of hops and locally harvested honey to achieve a real taste of Montana.

The Citra IPA, with its grapefruit aroma, golden orange color, wonderfully hoppy taste, is everything an American style IPA should be.

Oh, and then there’s the Blond Ale, the Imperial IPA, the Honey Weizen, and, well, you get the picture. Each one is carefully crafted to be the best he can make it, and he does a fine job. A very fine job indeed.

Jeremiah also likes to experiment with different ingredients. While visiting the brewery I was lucky enough to get a little taste of an experimental beer brewed with lentils, and was really impressed. I would never have expected those tiny little beans would create such a rich flavor.

If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in Great Falls, Montana, make sure you stop by the soon to be legendary Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Company and have a pint or two. You’ll be glad you did.

And if you see Jeremiah, ask him to tell you the story about the time he took on a bear of a clog in one of the tanks. I heard it was grizzly.


Pairing Cheese and Beer in Montana

Imagine you are enjoying a great craft beer, and you decide you would like a little snack . What’s your go-to?

We all have our favorite snack foods for when we are enjoying a beer. Everyone knows beer goes great with pizza, nachos, potato skins, and cheese fries, but why is that?

The common element for many of our “beer snacks” would seem to be cheese. And as everyone knows, cheese, just like bacon, seems to make nearly everything better. So why not pair cheese with beer?

While in Great Falls Montana for the 2019 Beer Now Conference, Cheeses of Europe and the Montana Brewers Association teamed up to present a beer and cheese tasting, to showcase just what a great combination beer and cheese can be.

Now I am NOT a cheese expert, just a cheese enthusiast. My palate is not overly sophisticated, and in fact it could be described a simple. But I like what I like, and live by the moto: If you don’t like it, don’t eat or drink it!

I do believe in food and beer pairings, and believe that some beers definitely go better with certain foods (and some beers with nearly everything). However, I was quite disappointed once by an article that insisted that beer floats were amazing. But after a trip to the store for several different flavor ice-creams and a variety of beer and then trying the recommended combinations I decided that “beer floats” were a cruel joke and that I had been duped. For that reason, I generally approach things like this with a little skepticism.

So, when Cheeses of Europe and the Montana Brewers Association paired six different cheeses from Europe with six different hand-crafted Montana beers, I may have been a little skeptical. Fortunately the results were quite tasty.

From Left to right, Top to bottom: Triple Crème, Camembert, Emmental, Mimolette, Comtè, and Fourme d’ Ambert

First, they paired a Triple Crème with a Saison, brewed by Philipsburg Brewing, which was aged in a Chardonnay barrel. This cheese, containing over 75% butterfat blended seamlessly with the tart, tangy fruitiness of the Saison. While very good on their own, the flavors came together to create something that was even better than the sum of its parts.

Next, a Camembert produced in Normandy was paired with a Bramble Berry Sour brewed by Mighty Mo Brewing. The earthy, mushroomy flavors of the Camembert with its creamy texture, were the perfect complement to this kettle soured ale with its mix of tart sweetness and undertones of blackberry and citrus.

They then paired an Emmental cheese with a Bichon Saison brewed by Vizsla Brewing. This Emmental, made in France, was very similar to a Swiss cheese in color, texture, and even had ‘holes’. It had a faintly nutty flavor, and went well with the low hoppy profile and citrus flavor of the Bichon Saison.

The next pairing was a Mimolette cheese and Dos Goatees Doppelbock brewed by Red Lodge Ales. This cheese had a deep orange color and very firm. Now remember, I am not a cheese expert. And although I did like this cheese, it was kind of hard, and felt kind of waxy as I chewed. The Doppelbock was very good, and the flavors of the beer did seem to complement the cheese, but I didn’t feel like they blended together the way the other cheeses and beer did. The flavors didn’t build on each other or come together so much as stand side by side.

Next a French Comtè was paired with Midas Crush IPA brewed by MAP Brewing. The Comtè also had a firm texture, but softened as it was eaten, and had a  faintly nutty flavor, with a hint of fruity sweetness, which matched well with the hoppyness and notes of orange and grapefruit of the Midas Crush IPA.

Lastly, a Fourme d’ Ambert blue cheese was paired with a Big Belt Weizenbock brewed by Lewis and Clark Brewing.  Personally, I love the creamy tartness and slightly salty flavor of a blue cheese, and this one was quite good, and blended beautifully with the sweetness of the caramel flavors of the malts in this strong dark wheat ale.

I have to say this was a very informative experience, and while I have always thought beer and cheese went well together, I did gain a new perspective on the way characteristic flavors of different beer styles interact with the flavors of a variety of very flavorful cheeses.

Maybe this fall during a football game I’ll try switching out the of wings for a cheese plate. I’m thinking Bree would go nicely with a good Saison.


Winchester Brew Works Brings Historical Lager to Old Town

Winchester, VA – About to celebrate their 3rd anniversary, Winchester Brew Works is introducing a historical, pre-prohibition style lager to their tasting room in Old Town, Winchester. The Millstone Historical Lager is representative of what would have been brewed 100 years ago. It is pleasantly hoppy from the US-grown Cluster hops and uses all malts & ingredients that would have been historically available to the small tavern brewer. It is named for the Winchester Milling Corporation, which stood on the site of Winchester Brew Works on North Cameron Street in the 1920s

Millstone Historical Lager will be featured at a local prohibition speakeasy-style event called “MSV After Dark” at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. MSV After Dark is an adults-only event from 6pm – 9 pm on Friday, March 22nd and is free to MSV Members; all others: $15. Tickets available online.

Millstone Historical Lager is also available in the tasting room at Winchester Brew Works at 320 N. Cameron St., open Thursdays-Mondays.

“We’re excited to celebrate the rich history of Winchester while also bringing something new to town.” – Bonnie Landy, co-owner of Winchester Brew Works.

“I have done extensive research on the style and I wanted to bring to the public the experience of what beer tasted like 100 years ago.” – Eric Boyers, Head Brewer.

Photograph of Winchester Milling Corporation provided courtesy of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives at Handley Regional Library.

For MSV After Dark:

Winchester Brew Works
320 N. Cameron St.
Winchester, VA 22601
Contact Bonnie Landy, co-owner, at 540-692-9242 or

Man Law: Don’t Fruit The Beer!

A few years ago Miller Brewing did a series of tv commercials  with a group of well-known men seated around a table discussing “manly” things, and proposing “Man Laws”, usually revolving around esoteric questions and stereotypical manly behavior such as crushing cans on foreheads, whether it is ok to store anything other than beer in the garage fridge, the sin of wasting or spilling beer, how long to wait to ask a girl out that dumped your best friend, and the “you poke it you own it” rule.  

One of my favorites was the “don’t fruit the beer” law.  I had always been a fan of the Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, which stated there were only 4 ingredients that could be used in the production of beer: water, barley, hops and yeast. It may sound extremely restrictive, but if you consider the wide variety of types barley and the countless ways it can be kilned and roasted and combined, the huge variety of hops with their countless flavors and aromas, and all the different types of yeast and the complex characteristics they can give a beer, the possible number of combinations are mind boggling. So there is no need to “fruit the beer”. Right?

Well, as I got older, I became more willing to try beers that were outside the narrow range of what I thought a beer should be, and I changed my mind. I decided that while I wasn’t wrong, I may have been mistaken. I realized that adding fruit and other ingredients in the brewing process can do amazing things to a beer. My new philosophy became “If it tastes good, drink it!” After all, taste is the reason I love beer.

But today I have begun to think that while there shouldn’t be restrictions on beer ingredients, brewers may have started taking things too far. In fact, recently I have noticed a growing number of offerings from craft brewers that I’m not sure should qualify as beer. After all, if it looks like a fruit smoothie, smells like a fruit smoothie, and tastes like a fruit smoothie, how can it be called beer? 

What’s next? Bacon that tastes like broccoli? (shiver)

We should never be afraid to try new things, and to go in new directions, but I think it is important to remember why we love the things we love. While we look fro the next great thing, we shouldn’t forget the great things we already have.

Science confirms: Men with beer bellies attract more beautiful women and live longer (via The Laugh Bible EN)

The image of the ideal man has changed throughout history. In the Middle Ages, being “chubby” was a sign of wealth, which made “heavy” people popular back then.

Nowadays, the ideal man looks more like a painting. A lean, muscular frame with pronounced abs is what you need. But is it really true that women find super-trained men with a sixpack so attractive?

Read more: The Laugh Bible EN

Kegs and Eggs at Kindred Spirit Brewing

Last Sunday I stopped by Kindred Spirit Brewing for their Kegs and Eggs Brunch. They were serving an amazing brunch consisting of french toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, hash-browns, pork tenderloin sliders, and fruit prepared by Right On Time Mobile Diner. And as you would expect from Kindred Spirit they were serving up beer-mosas & bloody brews which could only be described as the perfect brunch beverages for beer lovers.

What a great way to start a day. Thank you Kindred Spirit, and keep up the good work!