Saturday, December 20, 2008

December Brewing



We've gone through a very cold patch, here in Polson. We felt air temps dip (and stay) in the 10-15 degrees below zero range. Add the gale force winds we were enjoying and you get air temperatures down to 30-50 below zero! Now, almost anyone living in colder climates will tell you, this is plenty cold enough to freeze your exposed skin very quickly. But, I hear you ponder, what will that do to my beer? Well, like a lot of brewers, I have a keg-r-ator at my home. I'm lucky enough to keep it in an insulated garage. It's a newer refrigerator so I don't really worry about energy loss. Well, these temps were severe enough to FREEZE MY TAPS!! (see above photo) Calm down, calm down. They're okay now, but we were all worried.

Our brewhouse is housed in an old racquetball court building. It was built in the mid 1970's to the tune of about $24,000. A whole building with land! Now what does this tell you? Yup, they didn't spend a lot on insulation, well, neither have we. The walls are cinderblock (no insulation), the roof is metal with 1970's insulation. Oh yea, our ceiling is about 26 feet tall! Pretty tough to heat. It's always cold in the brewhouse/cellar in the non-summer months. And I mean COLD! I think that brewers must have a sort of sadomasochistic streak; all the little parts we need in the brewhouse to facilitate the beer transfer from tank to tank, these little parts are stored in buckets of sanitizer that are on the floor all the time. These buckets achieve temperatures very close to freezing but don't because of the sanitizer that is in them. So when we need a part, we have to plunge our bare hands into these buckets of love! Then we cry.

We've gotten quite a bit of snow lately. Still snowing on and off. So far I think we've gotten around 6-9 inches, which is quite a bit considering we're sitting in the northwest Montana Banana Belt, blame the lake.

I'm working towards several NEW specialty brews including our very first beer brewed with local spruce tips. I'm shooting for mid to late February. I have to get the recipe approved by the fine folks at the Federal Alcohol & Tobacco, Tax and Trade Bureau. That could take a few weeks. So keep watching this blog, I'll let ya' know what's going on at good ole' GBC!
Approaching Christmas in Polson, 2008. Our roads are snow-packed, our yards are deep under a comfortable blanket of snow and our lake is frozen. Have a peace-filled holiday, keep your winter gear in your car, empty your growlers and refill them!
Until next time, I remain,
Your Humble Brewer

Friday, November 14, 2008

Markin' the Milestones

Here's something you won't see everyday: our mashtun/hot liquor tank suspended over our heads. This photo is one of the earliest in the history of Glacier Brewing. As many of you have heard me tell the story before, this is where we stored our brewing system while we were looking for a piece of property to become the Glacier Brewing Company. I have all these "old" photos on my work computer and I flip through them from time to time. More just to remind me of how far we've come. I have a great deal of pride in that fact. We didn't start this brewery with a trust fund or any other huge pile of money. We've always done everything as economically as possible. We were told by industry veterans that starting and running a brewery our size would require AT LEAST half-a-million-dollars. We got up and running with less than 20 percent of that! No mean feat, believe me. We did most of the initial install ourselves; painting, demolition, construction. We've done most everything else since then ourselves, also.

I'm looking back because we've just passed another milestone: We have bottled our Flathead Cherry Ale! That's right, we now have our cherry beer available in six-packs from our tasting room. So now you can get a "mixed sampler" six pack of beer. This makes a wonderful gift for anybody! For those of you keeping score at home. We now have the following in six packs: Flathead Cherry Ale, Port Polson Pilsner, Golden Grizzly Ale, North Fork Amber Ale, Glacier Select Oktoberfest, Slurry Bomber Stout, and Glacier Root Beer! SEVEN PRODUCTS IN BOTTLES! Holy hat, what're we thinking!?! Try to find another brewery out there our size (with only two production workers), that has this many products in bottles. Why do we do it? We do it because, you, our faithful customers have demanded it. Now stop it!
We're also entertaining plans to expand the availability of our bottles throughout western Montana. This is still in the early stages and a lot of hurdles need to be overcome, but if and when this happens, you'll read it here first so subscribe to this blog and be in the "know".
Until next time,
Your Humble Brewer

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Living the dream....


Autumn is in full swing, here at Glacier Brewing. I'm never quite sure what kinda' weather is gonna greet me when I leave the brewhouse at the end of a day (I have no windows!! help me!). Some days, a little rain, some days, some snow. Lately, the evenings have been mythical! Warm, blue skies, light breeze, leaves on the ground.......just fantastic! It's definitely a season of change: weather's changing, daylight hours are changing, people's routines are changing, and the beers at the brewery are changing. If you haven't had the "Autumn Ale Experience" in the tasting room, you are missing out! This beer matches this time of year, perfectly! We have only a few more kegs of the Autumn Ale so you need to beat cheeks to the tasting room soon! The Brewer's Blog faithful may notice that this beer's name has suddenly changed. It used to be named after a certain patron saint of hop pickers and brewers. Well, a cease-and-desist letter from a law firm changed that. It seems a brewery in the southern U.S. objected to us using this patron saint's name since their brewery had the same name, so we dropped it. For now, it's called "Autumn Ale". Ahh, lawyers. What would we ever do without 'em?

So the other night, I'm at the brewery, closing it down. By now it's about 8:30 at night, it's dark out and I have about 16 blocks to walk home. No problem...usually. I say "usually" because earlier that day I learned of a SECOND mountain lion sighting in Polson! Now, I'm not a small guy; about 5'11", 210lbs, walking two dogs. But, I do not relish the thought of running into a mountain lion on the city streets. That was an interesting walk home! This lion is still at large. It's weird seeing the game warden parked across from the elementary school in the morning when all the kids get there. He's waiting for the lion!
So, do you have any thoughts on what kind of specialty beer you would like to see at the good ole' GBC? Drop me a line, give me a call, or get my attention to let me know.

Until next time,
Your Humble Brewer

Friday, October 10, 2008

FIELDS OF GOLD

The Mission Valley has, most definitely, left summer far behind. Fall is here, maybe even an early winter. Maybe not. Our first frost seemed like it came kinda' late this year. But it did come and with it, cooler (dare I say "colder" (dare, dare!!)) daytime temperatures. You can also see in people's faces. An almost welcome melancholy has settled onto Polson. As fun and busy as the summer is here, it is nice when the cooler weather arrives and most things settle down.

[WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG AHEAD!]

I say "most" because weekends at the brewery are anything but. In case you haven't been in to the tasting room in awhile, we are now dedicating Saturday and Sunday to football! That's right, Saturday is "COLLEGE FOOTBALL DAY" and Sunday is all about the NFL SUNDAY TICKET!
People have been coming in to root for their teams, enjoy some beer, and have a hot dog or bowl of chili. It continues to amaze me how cozy and warm the tasting room is even though it is such a large space. We have several comfortable recliners and couches so you can put your feet up and watch one of our five TVs!
We have our five regular beers on tap in addition to our Root Beer, Montana NRG(energy drink), Flathead Cherry Ale and Autumn Ale.
The Autumn Ale is a dark, smokey, Scottish-style ale. I use fresh peated malt in this beer. This is malt that has been dried over peat fires! Wonderful addition to any fall day! This saint is one of the patron saints of hop pickers and brewer's. He was known to advocate the consumption of beer instead of water due to the fetid conditions of most water sources in his time. Since beer is heated and brewed, that process would kill most of the nasties that would kill you! Note the mash rake in his hand!
"THROUGH MAN'S SWEAT AND GOD'S LOVE, BEER CAME INTO THE WORLD!"

Until next time, I remain your humble brewer.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hop Shortage? GROW YER OWN!

Howdy once more, dear readers.
I had a very rare opportunity this last week. As many of you know, hops are vital to brewing and said hops have become somewhat scare and very expensive. Well, a few years ago, I planted some hop vines around our brewery in Polson. I wanted them more for the visual impact than the actual hop cones. These vines have been, well, growing like a weed every summer. The oldest one achieving over a foot of growth per day at peak growing time! Well, these vines have also beer producing a respectable crop of hop cones every year so, of course, I thought "Why don't I harvest these and use them in a specialty beer?"
That's just what I'm doing. Before I use them in the brewkettle, however. I wanted to get them into a form that would allow me maximum utilization. Normally I use hops in a pelletized form. But I lack the equipment to force the whole hops into tight little pellets. I do have the ability to make the next best thing; hop plugs!
So, after I spent a couple of beautiful, Montana afternoons harvesting the hop cones, I began the process of converting them into plugs:
First. I dried the hop cones in my food dehyrators for about five hours.
Second, the dried hops needed to be pulverized into a powderized form for better access to the ever-elusive hop oils.
Third, the pulverized hops were loaded into the plug form (aka piece of PVC pipe!).
Fourth, I compressed the pulverized hops in the plug form using a custom-made hop plunger (I love my wood lathe!).
Fifth, a 12-pound sledge hammer gently compresses the hops in the form tighter and tighter.
Sixth, I left the plug form full overnight to ensure the hops would keep the shape.
Finally, the new hop plug is extracted from the form and vacuum sealed for future brews!








So far, this process, while being very labor-intensive, has yielded some surprisingly good plugs! I'm pretty anxious to get these guys into a brew sometime this fall or winter. It'll be like a pint of Montana summer in the winter duldrums! We're also planning on erecting some hop poles in our beer garden and utilize that space as a "hop garden". It's gonna be a lot of work but it'll pay off visually and hop-wize!
Until next time,
Your Humble Brewer!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

State of our State

Photo: Your humble brewer in front of the first brewery in the Montana Territory, the Gilbert Brewery, Virgina City, Mont.

Quite a last few weeks in the Montana brewery culture. We saw a staggeringly-proposed rule change put forth from the Montana Department of Revenue (affecting Montana's tasting rooms) rescinded at almost the last moment. For those of you unfamiliar with this chain of events, allow me to present my perspective:
The rule change was posted on the Department of Revenue's (DOR) website a little over a week before the hearing. Luckily, one of our state's brewers noticed this and rang the warning bell. The Montana State Brewer's Association (MSBA) began a very concentrated effort to inform the public, elected officials, and themselves about this rule change. Letters were written to the Governor, State Senators, State Congressman, State Representatives, reporters, editors, and any else that would listen. Petitions were started and filled with passionate comments at a record pace. Enough public interest was whipped up that Governor Schweitzer ordered a meeting between the DOR and MSBA. At this meeting, the brewers were told by DOR Director Dan Bucks, that the rule would be rescinded from the hearing and the director apologized for his staff not communicating with the brewers about this rule prior to the posting. Huge thanks to Director Bucks for having the strength to do the right thing regarding this issue. It was further stated that the Montana Tavern Association (MTA) had nothing to do with this. It is interesting to note that in newspaper articles when this issue first breached quoting DOR employees that they had "received numerous complaints from all-beverage licensee holders" (read: tavern owners). When these DOR employees were pressed to present these complaints, they stated that these types of records are not kept by the DOR. Whether the MTA was behind this proposed tasting room restriction or not is somewhat unclear. Bill Schneider of the New West online magazine gives a real nice synopsis of the whole "brew-ha-ha" (I hate that term!) at http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/score_one_for_the_brewmasters/C41/L41/.

Once the dust settled, I found out (from the DOR) that tasting rooms in Montana are legally allowed to remain open past 8:00pm until 2:00am. The restriction is that from 8-2 ONLY off-premise sales (kegs, growlers, six-packs) can occur; NO ON-PREMISE CONSUMPTION! The majority of Montana brewers were unaware of this little allowance.
This brings me to another rant/gripe/amazement/whatever: When you open a brewery in Montana (this has been my experience), you do not get a listing of the rules you must follow. This is also true at the federal level (we're also regulated by the Department of Treasury, by the way). Isn't it in every one's best interest if the rules of the game are known from the git-go?

At any rate, I was thankful and truly awed by the caliber and amount of support Montana breweries received from our faithful public:
THANK YOU!!!

Until next time,
Your Humble Brewer

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bit of a side note.....

Ya' know, I wasn't always a brewer. There was a time in my life when I sported a mohawk. True, that was way back in high school wrestling (2nd in my division, senior year Thank You!) . But a mohawk all the same. It wasn't until my second year in college that I met James. I imagine the above picture is what he looked like as a baby.
When I met him he looked more like this:
or was it this:
or maybe this:At any rate, James was sportin' quite the mohawk. I met him playing pool. He was an intimidating 130 pounds. As the years rolled by, I ended up being a raft guide with him on the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs. He didn't have a mohawk at this time but he had not lost the "rebel" mentality.
I still have memories of him leaving his raft (full of paying customers) to commandeer my raft (full of paying customer) by pushing me off the end into the river!
.......Good Times!!!

Anyhoo, I recently heard from James.

Just one sentence.

But that was enough to send me into a novel full of memories. Real friends are like that.
They get it. They know you.

James, if you read this, thanks. I miss you. We had a lot of fun.

Your friend,
Rudolph The Red!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

TASTING ROOM RULE CHANGE UPDATE....

I just received notice that after a meeting called by Gov. Schweitzer between the Department of Revenue and the Montana State Brewer's Association, the DOR "have offered to rescind the proposed rule from the hearing tomorrow." This is GREAT news for Montana breweries and Montana beer lovers! For those of you keeping track; as of this blog entry, we have collected more than 900 signatures on our online and paper petition. A great number of the online petition entries carried comments supporting not only the defeat of this rule change but to expand our current hours of service.
THANK YOU ALL who showed support for your Montana Breweries!!

PROST!!!
Dave

Thursday, July 24, 2008

THINGS TO DO IN POLSON.....

MIGHTY KERR DAM!
video

Okay, this is a bit of a cheat of a blog entry. But I thought it was kinda neat. I went down to Kerr Dam recently and was treated to this show. Don't often get to see the gates open.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"AND THE AWARDS GO TO....."

From the "Better-Late-Than-Never" department, we received our awards from the latest Garden City Brewfest in Missoula. This took place back in May. Good 'ole GBC walked away with two awards: Best Specialty Ale and Best Light Hybrid Ale. I enjoy brewfests, trouble is I don't get to very many these days as I haven't quite gotten the nerve up to chew through my leg because I'm shackled to the brewhouse! The summer is our busiest time of the year. If only we could spread some of the summertime business to the rest of the year!

In years past, I was the only brewer and cellarman. Well, those of you that know GBC know that we have been growing our Jim over the last couple of years. When he first started, all he had was a desire to learn more about the whole operation. He has endured many mind-numbing hours ensuring the kegs are sanitized, he has learned how to rack into the kegs, how to run our labeler, how to deal with me, and most importantly; Jim is becoming a fine assistant brewer. This provides a nice release valve for me. While I'm attending to one of the other thirteen-thousand details of this business (like writing the blog), Jim is able to continue with that day's brew. I give him a lot of grief (mostly about being from Wyoming) but I do appreciate him and his efforts quite a bit. Jim and his wife are in the process of opening up a storefront in Ronan, Montana for their screenprinting business, Image Quest. They do quality work, their prices are fair, and they have very reasonable turn-around times. Check out their website if you're in the market for custom-printed clothing: http://www.imagequesttees.com/.

Well, we have a new specialty in the tasting room, at least for a few more days. This one is called Sebastian's Select. I infused a few kegs of uncarbonated Oktoberfest with nitrogen gas. We pour it through a special faucet most people know as a "Guiness tap". What this does is to push the beer through small holes drilled in a disc inside the tap. The beer is agitated enough for the nitrogen gas to be "ripped out" of the solution. The nitrogen bubbles are much smaller and stronger than carbon dioxide bubbles. Also, since our atmosphere is composed of mostly nitrogen, these bubbles don't experience the pressure gradient that CO2 bubbles do and therefore are not as willing to pop. Bottom line is the bubbles form a thick, creamy head of foam. This action also pulls a lot of the hop oils out of solution so when you take a sip, you get a somewhat hoppy foam first and then a very smooth liquid body! YUMMIE!!! I put this on tap yesterday and every other pint I poured was the Sebastian's. Sebastian, by the way, is the name of our brewhouse. I didn't name it that. It named itself. As with all our seasonals, get in here soon or you'll miss out!
Until next, I remain your humble brewer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

State Of The State

Unless, you've been living under a log lately, you have probably heard about the "HOP CRISIS" (I use capitals so you understand the importance!!). If not it goes like this: the hop suppliers have been sitting on a hop surplus the past few years, this surplus has artificially driven the price of hops down, breweries have been buying these cheaper hops, the hop farmers can't meet the payments on their John Deere so they either: A)Get our of hop farming or B)they stay in hop farming but don't expand their planted acreage. Either way, the surplus gets used up due to increased demand. Oh yeah, world-wide hop harvest get decimated by diseases, drought, too much rain, or all of the above. Once again, whatever the cause the result is the same: Crappy Hop Harvests! So now, the average price of hops (if you can find any to buy) has gone from about $4.80 per pound to about $39.00 per pound. Let me type that out so there is no misunderstanding: four dollars and eighty cents per pound to thirty nine dollars per pound!!!
WTF!!!
Never before has the modern beer industry been faced with such an attack on one of their principles: hops! Toss into this whole mess the federal government's REQUIREMENT that breweries are to include hops in their beer for it to be considered beer at the rate of 7 pounds per 100 barrels (one barrel equals 31 gallons). Because breweries large and small are "allowed" to manufacture beer by the federal government and beer is defined by said entity as having seven pounds for every 100 barrels, it does feel like the small brewery's hands are somewhat tied. There are over 30 other plants besides hops that have been used to bitter beer but they have not be "recognized" by the feds as being an ingredient in beer. Myself, well, I'm looking at supplementing our hops supply by brewing a beer with some hops AND spruce tips. These are the new growth of Colorado Blue and Green Spruce Trees. I'm new in the whole "spruce tips" world but I'm very curious to see how my test batch of "spruce beer" turns out.
Oh yea, I'm also entertaining ideas for our next specialty brew. Please understand that it won't be an IPA or anything else really hoppy. Sorry, just not gonna happen. If you have any thoughts, tell me or email me or call me or slip a note under the door.
Well, the brewhouse has already started to heat up for the summer; freakin' roasting in there. So I guess we're on that seasonal treadmill once again!
Until next time,
Your Humble Brewer

Friday, June 13, 2008

HERE WE GO AGAIN....

Believe it or not, this picture was taken the morning of June 11, 2008. We awoke, here in Polson, to a building springtime blizzard. In a matter of 20 minutes, the rain turned to sleet and then VERY heavy snow. The trees accumulated a quick coating and, SNAP! Down came the bigger branches. One of the remarkable things about this weather was that it stuck around! The snow didn't melt that day or the next. The skies stayed overcast, low and gray. I was surprised with the tangible feeling that pervaded my attitude and almost everyone I meet those two days. We were all feeling more than a little cheated. We'd gotten through this winter weather already. Winter was over. We've earned our sunshine and warmth and singing birds! NOT FAIR!!! Well, yesterday the warm winds blew, the sun shone down and the snow melted, mostly. Our surrounding mountains are still locked in late-winter, snow-pack has returned. I guess the next event will be to watch for the rapid melt-off. Our ground feels extremely saturated. I understand the gates on Kerr Dam are already open and roaring. This was before this storm. If you're in the area, check out the dam. It's quite an impressive show when it's roaring the way it is now.
Until next time,
Your humble brewer

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

AHHH, SPRINGTIME, er, SUMMERTIME!!!


It's finally here, SUMMERTIME! The trees are full of flowers, the flowers are full of bees, the bees are full of pollen. This year's seasons definately seem to be marching a very strange, start-stop, sort of progression. Our winter was long and very drawn-out. The springtime seemed to last about four days (interupted by more winter), now we're into summer but only in the afternoons, the mornings are still in early spring! Whatever, I'll take it! Diversity sharpens the senses, quickens the blood. You're never quite sure what the afternoon will bring, or the next morning or the weekend. Growing up in western Colorado, now known as eastern California, once winter and mud season was over, you could lay down a certain bet that the day would start with blazing blue skies, followed by white puffy clouds around 2:30pm and then building into isolated thunderstorms by 4:00pm. The evenings would always be gorgeous blue again. All my friends loved this weather. I grew more and more irritated by the endless blue days (not just summer, ALL YEAR!). I craved weather variety, the chronic "wonderful blue sky" was smothering me with sameness! This psychotic, helter-skelter weather of northwest Montana is truly WONDERFUL!

Until next time,
Your humble Brewer.

Monday, May 26, 2008

LUCKY ARE THE BRAVE

MEMORIAL DAY 2008

We're staring down the beginning of a very beautiful day here in Polson. Current temperature is 50 degrees with a guess of rain today. But I don't see that now. Live for the moment, I always say.
I woke up this morning to an unfortunately familiar smell of dog poop. We recently switched our dogs to a "higher" quality dog food than they have been inhaling and one of the mutts' system can't seem to handle it, seemingly at random! So, I'm never quite sure, going to bed the night before, when I'll be waking up to "THAT" smell. Like I said, it happened this morning. My reaction was what you'd expect "GOD D*MN DOG, GET THE F@#K OUT! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?!"
Or something like that. She's outside sulking, I'm inside fuming. I'm cleaning it up, grumbling to myself when this story comes on CNN about some US soldiers who are being deployed to Afghanistan but have a few days to visit their families. Problem is there is no money for them to make the trip! So citizens donated all the funds needed. I know, while this is a very real story, the timing of the telling of it was designed to generate solidarity, civic pride, etc. Well, it worked. But also, it showed me something else. It shook me out of my little, daily ego-centric bubble. While cleaning up liquid dog poop first thing in the morning sucks, I'm not being deployed to the other side of the world! It is far too easy for me (and others I suspect) to loose sight of things like this. I don't want to brand this rant as "Appreciate what you have-others have it worse-you don't know how good you have it!". Most of that is true however. But, that is human nature.

One thing I've stressed to my offspring is this: When you see a soldier and have the opportunity, STOP what you're doing, walk up to that person, politely get their attention, look them in the eye and just THANK THEM. Red state, blue state, white state, green state, republican, democrat, independent, pro-war, anti-war, pro-bush, anti-bush, morning-person, night-owl, WHATEVER!!! JUST THANK THEM! Okay?

Good ole' GBC will be open today. Jim and I will be at the helm. Today, we're gonna be brewing some North Fork or maybe Stout. Those two always seem to be a little tougher to brew than the others. Mainly because of their extended grain and hop bills. The amber calls for SEVEN hop additions and uses EIGHT different grains. I know, I'm getting lazier as I age. That's why I have a "JIM". Everyone should get one, it's great! Such a wonderful, labor saving device! You just point your "JIM" at a task and, before you know it, it's done! Alright, sometimes I have to point it at the task a few times. Just kidding, Jim. (Who am I kidding, he can't read! He went to the University of Wyoming.....GO CSU RAMS!!!)
It is my wish that our collective day passes with peace and harmony. Sounds too hippy-ish? Too bad. Maybe the hippies have something there. One more thing before I release you, yesterday NASA landed a very advanced craft near the northern pole of Mars, looking for water and evidence of life. Do yourself a favor, check out the recent pictures of the surface of Mars, sip on your favorite Glacier Brew, watch the sunset, be in the moment. Oh yea, pray for no more liquefied dog poop!

Until next time,
Your Humble Brewer

Thursday, May 15, 2008

87 DEGREES IN DA' SHADE!!!

Surfin' Safari
Ya' gotta love Montana. Last week, we were getting snow, freezing rain, could see your breath as you walked to work (just me? okay...). Now, we're staring down 87degrees on Friday and hotter this weekend! Great news, right? WRONG!!! Think "Glacial Lake Missoula", think "Noah", think "Washed out bridges!". I know, some of you are saying "Don't be such a nay-sayer!". Sorry, it's just the way I roll. I love seeing the power of nature (from a distance, of course). This coming week holds the promise of exciting events happening along our western Montana waterways. We have had a significant amount of snow this year. Even lately. Now, suddenly, we're hitting the upper 80's and possibly the 90's?!? Excuse my American but, WTF?!? It is rare in my memory of such extreme temperature swings.
I have family in Colorado and I've been hearing stories from them of rapid melting causing culverts to dam and flood and then the next couple of days they get three inches of fresh powder! This may be climate change due to human activity or maybe it's part of a much, much larger cycle. One that our "recorded" history has yet to document.

Whatever the root cause, the results remain the same: Surf's Up!


Photo courtesy of the Montana Historical Society

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

HERE I SIT...

TICK, TOCK.....
Well, here I sit. In the tasting room on Wednesday night after 5:00pm. It's 6:20 in fact and no one has taken me up on my "Free Pint" offer. No one has said "MOLLYCODDLE" to me.

.......so sad.....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


AUGUST 2003
POLEBRIDGE, MT

When I came across this photo in my digital archive, the thought that struck me was "Amazing what extremes you do to accomplish your goals." The story behind this photo is we had an account in the North Fork up in Polebridge (if you've never been, get off your ass and get up there! AMAZING!), they just had a party or concert or something. Anyway, they had quite a few of our kegs and tapping equipment. So I volunteered to to get it. You can pretty much shoot the day to hell going from Polson to Polebridge and back so I was looking forward to some Montana windshield time and a visit to one of my favorite places, The North Fork/Polebridge. When I got there and I reconnoitered their empty keg stacks, it dawned on me how poorly I had judged how many of our empties were up there. Now, keep in mind that I'm the kind of guy that when I get home from the grocery store, I like to make only ONE trip from car to kitchen with the bags of groceries. I've been known to cut off blood flow to my hands from having too many bags dangling from them. It's just how I'm wired. So when I saw all those kegs, I was bound and determined to get them all back, come hell or high water! What you can't see in the photo is I also had kegs in the front seat as well. Funny what I thought was "normal" when we were trying to get this brewery off the ground!
That was also the year of the fires in and around Glacier National Park. On my way back down, I stumbled upon a firecamp and helitack. The helitack was offering public tours (or so the sign said). I pulled in and got out of the keg-wagon, securing stares from the ground crew. I looked around and saw I was the only "public" around! Hot Dawg! Well, they loaded me into a truck and took me out to where the Sikorsky Helicopter was parked. I love helicopter! I mean, I LOVE THEM!!! I was gonna become a helicopter pilot for the military but they told me my eyes weren't good enough, so then I was gonna become a helicopter mechanic. Well, a female sergeant yelled at me to remove my hat indoors (while I was taking the ASVAB test and all the associated bending and probing), I thought immediately "I'm not in your army yet, how dare you yell at me like that!" And so ended that dream!
But I digress! I got to talk with the crew of this helicopter, sit in the left-hand seat, and basically crawl all around the thing until they got a call to deliver some water onto the fire and they kicked my off this wonderful machine! That was a good day! I do believe that one very vital key to everyday happiness is to find "mini-vacations" during the day. Find something that gives your being release, joy, peace.
Until next time,
Prost!
Your humble brewer

Wednesday, May 7, 2008




HELLOOO OUT THERE!!!!!
Alright, I'm not sure anyone is even reading these posts. So in the interest to determine the interest in this blog, I'm offering the following:

-One (1) FREE pint of beer on Wednesday after 5:00pm in the GBC Tasting Room to anyone who tells me (Dave the Brewer) the magic word:

"MOLLYCODDLE"

Yup! That's right. Just say that word to Dave the Brewer on Wednesday (between May 7 and May 14, 2008) after 5:00 pm and you'll get a FREE pint of beer of your c
hoice in our tasting room!
That's it!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

GBC IN SPRING!


YIPPEE!!!
Well, I think I'm gonna go ahead and jinx it and say SPRING IS FINALLY HERE!!
We've had beautiful days lately. Perfect weather to indulge in my new specialty, WILD WOLF WHEAT! This is any American wheat beer that I filter to wonderful clarity! This beer is crisp, refreshing, and beautiful!
I haven't made this recipe in over two years so it's kinda fun to get back out again. Last time I made this beer, the filtration of it was a nightmare. It took me over ten hours and two-and-a-half sets of filter pads to get it clear! I swore I would never again make this recipe. Well, two years and a new filter later, this time around the filtration went like a dream: one set of pads and 40 minutes! Not only that, but I filter two other tanks of beer before I filtered this wheat, ON THE SAME SET OF PADS!! I LOVE MY FILTER!

Whenever you make a wheat beer, ya' gotta be careful during the mash. This is due to the wheat kernels, themselves. Any good wheat beer is gonna be made up of at least 50% wheat grain. The wheat, unlike barley, is huskless. The husk of barley, while basically inert in the brewing process, provides a very important anti-clumping action in the mash. The husks don't allow the wet, hot grain to clump up very easily. Now, when you reduce the husk content by at least 50% (remember the wheat), well, clumping and "sticking your mash" become very real possibilities. Sticking your mash means that the milled grains in the mash tun have basically loosely fused into a big dough ball on top of the mash screens. So tightly, in fact, that not even water can get through. NOT GOOD! So you must monitor your mash, stir it gently, talk softly to it, be nice.
If all goes well, you then get to run the malt sugars over to your brew kettle.
This is known as your first runnings of wort (pronounced "wert"). This is some very sugary hot liquid. As the hot water continues to sprinkle over the grains, more and more sugars are leached out and into the brew kettle. Once the kettle is full, the wort is boiled, hops are added (if you can find any!), and the hot, hopped wort is crash-cooled on its way to the fermenter. The fermenter is where the magic happens! The yeast is added and eats all the sugars. It then excretes (yup, pees) alcohol! After the yeast is done peeing in our beer, we filter it, carbonate it, and package. Last but not least, we drink it!
So, get in here quick because the Wild Wolf Wheat always goes quick. I'm not sure when I'm gonna make it again since there are so many other beer styles I want to try out.
Until next time,
Prost!
Your Humble Brewer!