Posted On January 20, 2016
Re-posted from the Great Falls Tribune, January 15, 2016.
The Rye Ale and Red Ale at Ten Mile Creek Brewery on Wednesday. (Photo: TRIBUNE PHOTO/JULIA MOSS)
“We’re working with as many local businesses as we can,” Kohoutek said. “Everyone wins like that. It’s part of building downtown. This walking mall has tons of potential.”
A downtown with two breweries (Blackfoot River Brewing is about four blocks away), bars, restaurants and shops, the scene offers a draw for everyone, he said.
“We want down to be the place Helenians go,” he said. “Between Blackfoot and here, we have seven or eight things to do every night, and that’s great for everyone.”
Blackfoot and Lewis and Clark Brewing Co. were a big help as the young brewers started their venture.
“When the tides rise, all ships go up,” Kohoutek said.
The seasonal beers go fast, Kohoutek said. Besides the coffee porter, this winter the brewery has 16K Winter IPA (9.94 miles or close enough to 10 to fit the theme). The winter IPA is brewed with Montana barley and a three-hop combo.
Always in the rotation are Tree Knocker IPA, 2nd Degree Rye Ale, You Got My Goat Oatmeal Stout and Reginald’s Red Ale. The red ale is Kohoutek’s favorite, though he’s also particularly partial to the oatmeal stout.
“I like them all,” he said. “It’s fun.”
The guys remodeled a historic building downtown on the walking mall. They used beetle-killed trees from MacDonald Pass. The bar and community table are each made from a single tree.
“We recycled five dead trees,” Kohoutek said. “And it looks really cool.”
The brewery’s look is western-industrial, with hardwood floors from the 1920s and correlated metal with a rust patina, the organic lines of the living edge of the bar meets concrete, plus a dose of Montana-cana with an old “Welcome to Montana” highway sign, ski signs and scenic photos.
“We learned woodworking on the fly,” Kohoutek said.
Reach Tribune Staff Writer Kristen Inbody at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @GFTrib_KInbody.
If you go
BREWERY: Ten Mile Creek Brewery
LOCATION: 48 N. Last Chance Gulch, Helena
HOURS: Noon to 8 p.m. daily
TOP BEER: Reginald’s Red Ale
NOTE: Budget enough time to enjoy the neighborhood of downtown Helena. Within a few steps of the brewery is a candy shop, wine bar, ice cream parlor and fancy Italian restaurant.
Posted On December 18, 2015
Re-posted from the Great Falls Tribune, December 15, 2015, by: Kristen Inbody
Miranda Hackman poses with her completed Montana Brewery Passport at CopperWild Brewing in Butte. (Photo: COURTESY PHOTO)
He started with a Kickstarter campaign, raising $5,500 with 105 backers by July 4, 2014. His pitch was that breweries are Montana’s melting pot, bringing together locals and tourists to “taste, talk, and unwind after a day on the trails, slopes, or water. Ranchers sit next to college students; Californians sit next to Montana business owners.”
In the back of his mind was the national parks passport he’d had.
“I hadn’t used it before, but in researching I found it works best when you’re creating a tangible product,” Newhouse said. “Simply, it was a way to pre-sell and to gauge interest, to tell the story and to be upfront about what it is.”
The project created excitement around the passport, and it was a way to fund it without charging breweries.
“I didn’t want it to be pay to play. This seemed like the best way to get 100 percent participation,” Newhouse said. “The stamps are at no charge to them, and they can sell the passports if they want but don’t have to. It’s never cost the breweries a penny to participate.”
Only one brewery doesn’t have a stamp, and that’s because it’s new and the stamp is still in production.
Newhouse said his guidebook to breweries educates people about the stories of each brewery but the passport helps people engage once they’ve arrived at the brewery.
“The book only has 38 breweries whereas we have 62 breweries now open in Montana,” he said. “The book is a little outdated, but I do low print runs with the passport so I keep it up to date.”
The passport also has space to write in new breweries.
Those who finish the passport get a prize, which is still being designed.
Seeing the passport in circulation – he’s sold about 10,000 – has been rewarding, Newhouse said.
He was at a spaghetti dinner in Dillon for a race when a guy sat next to him with a new passport he’d gotten for Father’s Day.
“He was there to get a stamp from Beaverhead Brewing Co.,” Newhouse said. “It was a real small-world moment.”
In Missoula’s Imagine Nation Brewing, the owner of a Helena brewery approached Newhouse.
“We hadn’t met, but he said, ‘Your passport, just love it,’” Newhouse said. “It was a fun moment to have the owner of a brewery give a complement like that.”
Hackman was at Cabinet Mountain Brewing Co., in Libby when she met a woman working on completing her passport by going to every brewery.
“I thought that it sounded like fun and a great way to see Montana. So, I bought one there and started my brewery tour. I would plan a road trip for just about every weekend,” she said. “It also helped that I work four ten-hour shifts so I get three-day weekends.”
Hackman said having the passport made keeping track of her visits and making plans easy.
“I would meet a lot of people at the breweries that would ask me about my passport; a lot of people haven’t heard of them. When I would talk to them about the purpose of the passport and the experiences that I have had, they wanted to buy one for themselves and start their own brewery tour,” she said. “I would also keep notes about each brewery in my passport, which made it easy for me to recommend places and good beer.”
Hackman’s motto is “No good beer is ever too far out of the way.”
That said, some places were far indeed. Her last roadtrip was 1,100 miles, taking in breweries in Havre, Glasgow, Wolf Point and Sidney. She made Butte’s CopperWild her last one since she’s from Butte and wanted the journey to come full circle there.
“With some of the other ‘remote’ breweries such as the ones in Wibaux and Eureka, I was in the general area so I made it a point to go to them,” she said. “I have also been going to the new breweries as they open.”
And her favorite?
“There are so many good breweries in Montana,” she said. “Several breweries came to mind. But, if I had to pick one, it would be the Black Eagle Brewery, outside of Great Falls in Black Eagle. Their beer was outstanding, great atmosphere and a very friendly staff.”
Reach Tribune Staff Writer Kristen Inbody at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @GFTrib_KInbody.
What: Montana Brewery Passport
Why: Track your progress visiting breweries around the state
Available: Breweries or online at montanabrewerypassport.com/
Posted On November 18, 2015
RE-posted from the Ravalli Republic,November 12, 2015,
Dan Brandborg, Jason Goeltz, Janelle Gustafson, Brent Donnely, Heather Handeland and Mike Dunn stand in the can storage area of Bitter Root Brewing. They are listening to Deborah Frandsen read a letter from Senator Jon Tester in praise of the solar installation.
Bitter Root Brewing has two solar arrays on its roof that have saved $2,000 in energy costs since June. USDA Rural Development and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., recently recognized them for their efforts.
Jason Goeltz, general manager of Bitter Root Brewing, said the business is committed to solar energy. It has a large southern solar array, a small western array and a monitor displaying the performance of the solar panels and overall energy use to customers.
“We’re proud of it,” said Goeltz. “It’s great for our business. It has saved our business money, affording us an opportunity to take those savings and invest them in to other areas directly affecting our employees, our customers and the local economy through employee programs, equipment purchases and other areas that improve our efficiency.”
The Bitter Root Brewing solar system generates enough renewable energy to power 1.5 households per year.
Part of this solar project was paid for with an $8,670 grant from the USDA’s Renewable Energy for America program.
USDA Acting State Director Janelle Gustafson praised Bitter Root Brewing for improving the energy efficiency of the operation.
Deborah Frandsen read a letter from Tester in praise of the solar array installation.
“Renewable energy projects like this help diversify our energy portfolio and reduce the amount of carbon that is released into the air we breathe,” Tester wrote. “As a Montana farmer I know how important keeping your energy costs low is to growing your bottom line.”
Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he will continue to fight to ensure USDA Rural Development is able to make important investments that strengthen Montana’s rural economy.
The solar arrays at Bitter Root Brewing were installed by Dan Brandborg, a photovoltaic specialist with SBS Solar. Brandborg has been in the solar energy industry for 30 years. He began working with clients who wanted to be off-grid and now is working with clients who are on-grid and want to generate their own power.
Brandborg said the solar system took just two weeks to install.
“It’s really straight forward anymore,” Brandborg said. “There are really just three components: solar panels, mounts and an inverter that changes the power from the panel to what the house needs or what the utility needs.”
Goeltz said there is enough room on their roof for additional solar panels, and other businesses have contacted them about starting unique businesses at the brewery location using solar power.
“It has been great for our business because it is yet another step towards sustainability, which is truly in the vein of the brewing industry,” said Goeltz. “Brewing draft beer is sustainable at its core, and to have yet another sustainable cog in this wheel of ours is truly a gift.”
The solar panel on the west-facing roof of Bitter Root Brewing at 101 Marcus Street is improving their business that has been part of Hamilton for 17 years.
Posted On November 10, 2015
Re-posted from Growler Fills, Alan / October 17, 2015
The 2015 Montana Brewers Fall Festival featured more than 150 Montana-made beers from across the state on a perfect October evening in Missoula, MT. Missoula’s local homebrewing club, the Zoo City Zmurgists, judged the beers using the BJCP style guidelines in a blind-judging format. (Disclosure: I participated in the blind-judging round to select the best-of-show winner.)
Here are the winning beers from this fantastic showcase of Montana beer:
Best Amber: Tamarack Brewing Co.- Yardsale
Best Belgian: Flathead Brewing Co.- Swimmers Itch Saison
Best Brown: Mighty Mo- Coco Brown
Best Cream/Blonde: Map Brewing Co.- Northbound Blonde
Best Dark Lager: Kalispell Brewing- Winter at Noon Dunkel
Best Double IPA: Tamarack Brewing Co.- Redemption Red
Best Hefe/Wit: Lewis&Clark Brewing- Miner’s Gold Hefe
Best IPA: Draught Works Brewery- Pineapple Express Tropical IPA
Best Irish/Scottish: Katabatic Brewing Co.- Katabatic Scotch Ale
Best Light Lager: Kalispell Brewing- Two Ski Brewski Pilsner
Best Pale Ale: Katabatic Brewing- New ‘Merica Pale Ale
Best Sour: HigherGround Brewing- Borderland Sour
Best Stout/Porter: Big Sky Brewing Co.- Ivan the Terrible
Best Specialty: Philipsburg Brewing Co.- Badfinger Imperial Stout
Best of Show: Tamarack Brewing Co.- Redemption Red
Best of Festival: Muddy Creek Brewery- Occupy Octoberfest
Note: Best of Show was chosen by a five-judge panel from among the highest scoring beers. Best of Festival was chosen as the highest scoring beer among those first released for the festival during the preliminary judging rounds.