Big Sky, Big Beer, Montana Proud

Montana is known as Big Sky Country, and for good reason. There aren’t many places where the sky seems to touch the ground, stretching from horizon to horizon with no buildings or trees to obscure the view. Montana is a beautiful place, with stunning views of far reaching fields, crystal clear lakes and streams, majestic snow-capped mountains…. and great beer!

You might be surprised to learn that Montana has the second highest number of breweries per capita in the US with 9.6 breweries per 100k residence, making it second only to Vermont which has 11.7 per 100k residence. Of course, this means nothing to a craft beer lover unless there is quality to go with that quantity. But Montana has that too.

On a recent trip to Montana, I was able to visit craft breweries in Helena, Great Falls, and Kalispell, as well as sample a fair number of brews from a number of other Montana breweries, and I have to tell you- craft beer is done right in big sky country.

Unsurprisingly Pale Ales and IPAs are by far the most popular craft beers in Montana, but at the same time you would be hard pressed to find a Montana craft brewery that didn’t have at least one Scotch Ale on tap. And while their Pale Ales were as good as you could get anywhere in the country, to get a better Scotch Ale you might have to go to Scotland. Some of my favorites were the Tartanic Scottish Ale at Blackfoot River Brewing in Helena, and the Mountain Man Scotch Ale from Jeremiah Johnson Brewing in Great Falls.

Wild fermented ales, or sour beers, are also gaining in popularity in Montana. I’d say that most of the breweries had a sour ale. While in Great Falls I attended the Montana Brew Fest, where Flathead Lake Brewing had a beer they called Bearhat Sour Brown which was aged in oak barrels for 3 years and it was amazing! In Kalispell, Bias Brewing’s Boss Pog Sour featured guava, peach and passion fruit, and had a great fruity/sour flavor.

The reason for the tremendous quality and flavor of craft beers in Montana may have something to do with the quality of the water, the clean fresh air, or it might be the fact that most of their ingredients are locally sourced- such as the barley which is not only grown in Montana but malted there by the largest malting company in the USA (Malteurop). My guess is that it is more of a combination of all the above, plus a deep abiding love for craft beer.

Big Sky, Big BeerMontanan’s are proud of their craft beer, and who could blame them? There are lots of reasons for them to be proud.

Pawpaw beer boosts Ohio festival • Brilliant Stream (via Brilliant Stream)

Pawpaw beer has come a long way since the first one appeared at the Ohio Pawpaw Festival in 2002.

The world showcase for pawpaw beer happens right here in Appalachia. Last weekend, the 20th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival featured nine pawpaw flavored brews from eight Ohio breweries. It’s certainly come a long way since Kelly Sauber, then Marietta Brewing Company’s head brewer, made the first pawpaw beer for the festival 16 years ago.

Read more: Brilliant Stream




Great American Beer Festival Is Back — Tickets Go On Sale Aug. 1 (via denver.eater.com)

The 37-year tradition returns to Denver in September

Tickets go on sale next month for the 37th annual Great American Beer Festival, returning to Denver September 20-22. The three-day festival’s general admission costs $85 and includes access to more than 4,000 beer samples, educational seminars, and entertainment. Last year, tickets sold out in just over four hours.

GABF brings 800 breweries from around the country together under one roof at the Colorado Convention Center.

Read more: denver.eater.com




Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference- Coming to Loudoun County, VA!

In just 2 months, on August 10 and 11th the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference will hold its 9th annual conference, and this year it will be held in Loudoun Virginia! This conference is not only for beer bloggers and writers, it is also for breweries, brewery guilds, Destination Management Organizations, and PR companies. This event provides a forum for industry professionals to meet with writers and bloggers to discuss trends, tourism, and innovations in craft brewing.

Beer tourism is growing fast, and conferences like this are a great way to build awareness for local and regional beers, breweries, and beer trails.

This conference will feature a number of pre and post conference excursions such as a trip to the Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House in Maryland, and a visit to Dogfish Head Brewing in Delaware, to talk to the brewers, hear about trends, and of course lots of tasting.

At the start of the conference, there will be a Kickoff Party at Farm Brew Live, northern Virginia’s first destination brewery.  Then during the conference attendees will hear about the current state of the craft beer industry, diversity in craft beer, learn about the art of negative feedback, podcasting and Instagram, talk to brewers and brewery owners, and of course beer tasting. They will also hear from Sam Calagione with Dogfish Head Brewery, see a presentation by Devils Backbone Brewing Company, and do more beer tasting. There will also be a reception and dinner at Vanish Farmwoods Brewery where 24 of Loudoun County’s breweries will be present to offer still more tastings of some of their best hand-crafted brews!

Finally, after the conference wraps up, there will be yet another excursion, this time to Richmond, VA, for  a tasting tour of the Richmond Beer Trail!

This conference is going to be incredible! If are a brewery owner, an industry professional, or just want to raise awareness about craft beer in your area, there is no better place to meet with the bloggers and writers who can get the word out.  

I’ll see you there!

Cheers!

 

Special thanks to the conference sponsors:

Visit Loudoun,the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association, is going all out to ensure the success of the conference.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) represents America’s 3,300 licensed, independent beer distributor operations in every state, congressional district and media market across the country.

CraftBeer.com, published by the Brewers Association, a website that supports independently owned breweries and the world of American craft beer.

Devils Backbone Brewing Company, born in the Heartland of Virginia, this craft brewery has created some amazing German and American style craft beers that has become the standard for what a craft beer should be.

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, after 22 years of brewing excellence, is still just as passionate and dedicated their craft as they were on day one, “to bringing off-centered goodness to off-centered people”.

Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House, which is the first Guinness presence on US soil since 1954 and a beer legend known around the world.

Prince William County, Virginia, close without being too close to Washington DC. Located only 30 miles from DC in northern Virginia, Prince William is known for their parks and trails, Civil War battlefields, amazing craft brews and wines, museums, and a robust arts and culture scene.

Kilfrost is a global leader in safety critical chemistry. They are probably best known for developing a range of Advanced Low Viscosity heat transfer fluids, including ALV Plus, which for the first time gives breweries a fluid that’s highly efficient and non-toxic, as well as cost efficient and environmentally-friendly.




Cumberland Valley Beer Trail pt 5- My Final Stop: Molly Pitcher Brewing

10 E. South Street Carlisle, PA 17013

My final stop on the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail was Molly Pitcher Brewing. Named after the legendary Revolutionary War heroine who brought pitchers of water to colonial soldiers on the battlefield. Molly, who’s real name was Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley, famously jumped in to man a cannon during the Battle of Monmouth, earning the respect and admiration of those soldiers she fought with, and creating the legend of the fearless patriot in a petticoat. 

This place had the feel of a true neighborhood pub. The staff greeted me when I walked in, and asked what I’d like before I sat down. Everyone seemed to know each other, but still made you feel like you were one of them. There was even a young woman there celebrating her last night as a single woman with her maid of honor and bridesmaids. She’s the one wearing the veil in the picture above.

The place was accented with items from colonial America like a tri corner hat, a musket, and tap handles made from flintlock pistols and wooden beer taps. 

Patriot Pale Ale

The Patriot Pale Ale had a bright golden hue  with a fruity and floral aroma and a hint of citrus. The hop bitterness was nicely balanced by the malt with a touch of citrus. Delicious.

The Billy Haze-Jucy IPA had a hazy golden color and had a fruity/citrucy aroma, and a sweet but not too sweet tropical fruit flavor with a light citrus taste. Excellent.

Unfortunately, like all good things my time on the Cumberland Valley Beer Trail finally came to an end.  I had tasted some truly remarkable beer, had some good things to eat, and met some great people, but I was only able to visit a handful of the craft breweries on the trail, and sample only a tiny fraction of the beer. But that just gives me a good reason to come back, and something to look forward to. 

Until next time, may you always have good health, and may your cup never run dry.

-Cheers!