Tuesday, April 29, 2008


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,
Your Humble Brewer!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yup, here it is again!
EARTH DAY! This is the time for all of us to gather around our good intentions, turn off the lights, turn down the heat, recycle our newspapers and plastics (no glass, remember we're in Montana! No Glass Recycling Here!), make sure the dishwasher is full before running it, walk instead of driving, and on and on and on.
Except, is it really possible to reverse several hundreds of years of out and out environmental sodomy by taking these small steps? Is it possible to have any real-lasting effect on this enormous system we call "the environment"? I'm not sure.
I know, I know, "At least it's something." This is true. But the lifestyle changes needed should be all-encompassing and long-long-term.
Basic things, like when you use your car, need to be changed. The car, it seems, has become an extension of the body and this extension needs to be severed. Driving the car should become a unique thing.
Light usage: Next time you're in a grocery store, look up and try to count how many light fixtures are up there. I'm betting you get tired of counting before you get them all. Now think of how many stores use this many lights in your town, county, state, country?!? Holy Waa! How much light do we really need to compare two brands of pork rinds?
Excess is the credo of our society. I guess $3.50 a gallon and up is the price (literally) we pay for following this credo generation after generation.

So, what do we do? How about fuel rations? Everyone gets 35 gallons a month. Do with it what you can. When your tank is dry, you have to wait until the new month. I'd really make sure my "quick trip" to the store is worth it if this was the case. What else? How about sensors on lights so they can only be turned on when it's dark enough to need them? Graywater systems standard on all new construction. Municipal photovoltaic, hydro, and wind power-generating systems to supplement grid. Community food gardens instead of shipping food across the hemisphere. Ban NASCAR!
Oh, and everyone must fill their growlers at the Glacier Brewing Company!
P.S. In this vein, I'm thinking of collecting our beer bottles back so we can smash them and maybe use the crushed glass for landscaping or offer it to local builders as fill material. What do you think about this? Post a comment, email me (info@glacierbrewing.com) or come into the brewery and talk to me about it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

To know the future, look to the past....

Howdy all,
When I was doing some spring cleaning, I came across this old photo of my great-great grandfather (that's him with the mallet in his hand and the white beard) posing with the crew from the first Glacier Brewing Company. It was located on the lake where the old mill used to be before it burned down. His name was Otto Schaefer. He started the brewery two years after he arrived in the area with his old business partner, David Polson. They were originally going to start a business of hauling east-coasters around the lake in traditional dug-out canoes. But after miserable experiences with sinking canoes, Otto decided to pursue his grandfather's passion, brewing beer. His brewery saw much greater success than did the canoe venture. He was best known for hauling his beers over the Mission Mountains in the winter to the Swan Valley to keep the government elk-breeding researchers supplied. It was on one of these trips when he encountered a lost and starving group of hunters. He was able to get their fire going and got them fed with a bark stew. If not for his efforts and good timing, the whole group of fifteen hunters would have perished! This is where Schaefer Ridge got it's name.

Years later, he decided to sell the Polson brewery to his brewery manager, Derk Cleaveland and head out to eastern Montana. He reopened the Glacier Brewing Company and stage stop near Crows Bluff, Montana. He operated the brewery and stage stop singlehanded for many more years before dying at the ripe old age of 107! The family story says that he was too stubborn to die.
His original brewery in Polson met a similar fate at the hands of Derk Cleaveland. For years, Mr. Cleaveland had been scooping out dirt from under the brewery to mix in with the grains. He had scooped out so much, in fact, that one day during a fierce storm, the entire brewery collapsed into the lake! What little there was to salvage was used to build the Klondike Steamship. One of the kettles was recovered and used as one of Polson's first water towers.
I hope you've enjoyed this little-known family history as much as I've enjoyed telling it.