Sunday, June 13, 2010

Closing the Circle..

Please indulge me a little.

Starting on this VERY strange and dynamic journey of opening and running a microbrewery in northwestern Montana, I was idealistic and more than a little naive. In the original daydream, the Glacier Brewing Company existed in West Glacier, Montana. This is the "west entrance" to Glacier National Park (nevermind the Camas entrance!). It has wonderful summer traffic but extremely sparce cold-month traffic. Primarily because of this, we (my wife, her brother, and myself) decided we would be more successful to open our brewery elsewhere. We did. In Polson.
Aside from our physical location, I've always wanted to see our products for sale in the stores of Glacier National Park. The thought was this "If we could get our beer in bottles (no small task, ask any brewer!) AND get it for sale in a store in a National Park, well, now that would be something to hang one's hat on!"

Well, this last weekend, I was fortunate enough, with my family, to spend some great time in the Northfork. On our way home, we swung through West Glacier and Apgar where we witnessed our little brewery's products for sale at not only the West Glacier Merc and Eddie's Gifts, but on the menu in Eddie's Cafe!
As my family and myself finished our lunch, we looked across the room and saw another family's table with one of OUR BOTTLES ON IT!!!!!
Let me tell you that for entrepreneurs, to have our "daydreamed" products for sale alongside other Montana breweries and industry giants was a very cool thing indeed!
This is what was in my original daydream, lo those many years ago, traversing the eternal straight-a-way highways of western Wyoming: To plunge, headstrong and full-force, into the northwestern Montana life and culture and start and run a brewery and bring our products to market!
We have been seeing our beers and root beer popping up in more and more bars, restaurants, and stores than ever before! We've been pushing and pushing for this for a long time now as this is not something that can happen quickly or all at once. It takes time and persistence and energy.

It seems our beers and root beer are being demanded in more places by a wider audience than ever before! I'd like to deeply and humbly thank all of the businesses that have chosen to provide our products to the public. Your support has provided our families with deeply appreciated support! Again, THANK YOU!!!

We are striving hard and happily to keep this pace going....

I feel fortunate.
I feel lucky.
(Some days, I feel a little self-imposed curse!)

I can say without conceit and for all who started this brewery, after these years of extreme hard work and personal sacrifices.....we love this!

"Life is a spectacle. A sheer festival of light!"

until next time,
your humble brewer

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Forgive the Winter

sullen and thick
the flathead winter sky imposes and dominates
flowing and filling from sky edge to mountain ridge
impenetrable as wet wool

but the hope
to see the blue
tries to live

just a glimpse

yet unrelenting and uncompromising
the montana winter denies

snow falls
and unsure salvation follows
a softer world is laid down

brilliant white and blue
crisp and renewed
hearts swell and minds lift
artificial boundaries dissolve

reprieve is granted
forgiveness is given

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A break in the clouds.....


Here it is.......

Most didn't believe it would come this time but here it is.

The sky returned.
The clouds broke.
The sun is BACK!

To truly understand this, ya' really gotta experience a tough Polson winter and THIS was a "Tough Polson Winter"!!!
The picture at the top of this post is the view from Polson of Flathead Lake in the LOCK of this winter! Just wanted to let ya' know that we're not making this stuff up!
The gray; unyielding gray, permeated almost everything this winter. We did not get a whole lot of snow. But we did get cold, REAL cold. "Write Home" kinda' cold. It was best to find a warm, peaceful, happy place (like our tasting room) to weather the weather.
But, nevermind......the clouds broke!

Well, during the gray days I tried not to fall into the winter rhythm of cleaning guns and building dead-fall traps (don't ask!). Instead I strove to keep the beer flowing and specifically tried to keep unique brews on tap on the One Barrel Batch tap.
Hope I didn't fail you.
Currently, we have a barrel-aged Scottish ale pouring. It lived in the barrel for about four months! Wonderful collaboration between the smoked-malt and the oak wood of the barrel mark this unique beer! This one is a celebration beer: celebrating the return of the sun! If you're a pagan, like myself, living in northwest Montana, this means quite a lot!

We have some other fun beers on deck for the One Barrel Batch Tap. Not gonna tell you what they are now, that'd ruin all my fun! But keep a eye on our Facebook page as that's where I announce what is going on tap next.

As some of you may have heard, our assistant brewer, Will, left for home at the beginning of this winter. He was to return when the weather warmed and the production picked back up. Well, he has been offered a brewing position at another brewery. Actually, at two different breweries! I've yet to hear which one he picked but this is a testament to the skill, dedication, and work ethic of young Will. We wish him truly good luck, safe brews, and happy yeast. I hope he finds his way back here someday as I enjoyed brewing with him.
In other brewery news, Chad has moved into the Tasting Room Manager position due to his attention to detail, friendliness, and general moxie! He will be taking on all the duties to keep your tasting room visit enjoyable and comfortable. If you have any suggestions for him, please let him know!I'll close this post by letting everyone know that the barleywine has been moved out of the fermentor (after almost two months!) and is now resting quietly in the bright beer tank. It will stay in there for probably at least another three months or so. We'll see.

Oh yeah, I'm toying with the idea of making a Maibock now for service in May. Let me know what you think of that.

Until next time,
I remain
Your Humble Brewer

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Into the Gray Days......

Winter in Polson, Montana.....

"These are some bleak days!"
I heard this as I was walking to work one morning. I stopped, looked around, and saw....

"hmmm, must be my diet" I thought.

Whatever the origin of this statement, the sentiment rang true with me.
Bleak days indeed.

For those who have never had the singularly unique experience of a winter in Polson, Montana allow me to serve you up a helping:
1. Cold, wet cold.
2. Occasional snow storm (wet or dry snow).
3. VERY cold temperature (5, -3, -32 degrees F) for several days (weeks) at a time.
4. Sudden, overnight melt so the next day EVERYTHING is wet, soggy, muddy and still frozen and very, very slippery!
5. COMPLETE and total overcast. The sky meets the ground, the ground meets the sky!!! Everything is monochromatic.
(every now and then though, the sky opens and slaps you across the face with its beauty!!!)
6. Back to number 1.

So this is the circle of life (strife?) up here in the glory of the Mission Valley!
Well, while a lot of the locals take this opportunity to clean their guns and practice their knots, I have taken this time to concoct a new (yes, BRAND NEW!!!) beer recipe for you, my loyal readers.

This beer recipe just happens to be a barley wine.
Please note: that's "w-i-n-e" not "w-h-i-n-e".
Seems necessary these days to point that out.
Anyway, this beer is a grain hog!
I mean, it puts out only half the volume of a normal batch but requires much more than the normal amount of ingredients!
It's designed to produce 5.5 barrels (that's 170.5 gallons to you and me, Timmie!!!) of 10% barley wine!!!!

(You may now fire off your guns.....I'll wait.......................)

I packed over 600 pounds of highly-modified two-row barley, munich malt, crystal malts, and a secret malt into our beloved mash tun, added the hot liquor and stirred! Then I carefully, slowly drained the glorious malt sugars out of the grain.

(LEGAL NOTICE: all water used in a brewhouse is referred to as "liquor". It is just water, but that's what it is called. Whadda' gonna do?!?)

This brew maxed out my hand-refractometer! (don't get excited....that's just a gadget I use to measure the sugar content of the wort and thereby, indirectly measure the alcohol potential.....pervert!)

Anyway it always strikes me as wonderfully unique whenever I brew a new beer, one that I have not done before, at least on a certain brewing system. Every brewhouse is different and reacts in a different way to recipes and procedures. It is actually pretty neat.
As I write this, the barley wine is chugging away in the fermenter; yeast consuming malt sugars, burping out carbon dioxide, excreting alcohol (I mean, why else ferment? HELLO!?!), and budding off other yeasty friends. This is where the alchemy takes place, in the fermentation vessel. Simple sugars converted to alcohol, gas, and a hell-of-a-lot of yeast!
Just cool.

Well, this beer should be ready in about.....oh.....maybe four months. AT THE SOONEST!!!
There are a lot of people who are of the mindset that any barley wine worth it's grain should not be served less than ONE YEAR after production.
Lucky for you, I'm not one of those nutjobs!

(I'll probably squirrel away a keg or two in my back yard!)

I'll keep ya' posted on this beers maturation but until then.....

I remain

Your Humble Brewer