June 2002 Archives

Beer In Billings Montana

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Well today I am headed off the the eighth annual Billings Brewfest, in Billings, MT. More info will be coming soon. Last weekend I visited Montana Brewing. I had their 'Custer's Last Stout' it was a very good Dry Irish Stout, not too dry. It's head rivaled Guinness, I would love to see what it would be like on nitro. I also sampled their Amber, also very good. Last I tried their Wheat Beer, VERY dissapointing. It was all watered down. Now here is where I go off on watered down beer.


Watered down beer has NO PLACE IN THE WORLD. Here is why. If you want Bud or some crap American horse wizz beer, that's what you want. Let's face it no Bud drinker is happy with some other watered down beer. They want the original Bud strait from the Clydesdales stable. If you drink Real Beer, you want it true to style not watered down. No one likes a Real Beer, that has been watered down to try and fit in. If you want to do something to convert the American beer drinker over to the real thing you make a Vienna Style Lager. Anything else falls flat on it's face. Ok so there are some other good 'conversion' beers. But NEVER is a watered down beer the solution. Montana Brewing should have enough guts to drop the wheat beer or do it right!


I just finished typing a five page epilogue about the Billings Brewfest only to lose the whole thing due to the fact that this is the worst computer I have ever used. So here goes, I'll see what I can remember. Just two weekends ago I attended the 8th Annual Billings Brew Festival, in Billings Montana. Their live music was terrible, but since this site is about good beer I will skip that part. Seventeen Breweries were represented, nine of which were from Montana. My hat goes off to Overland Express Brewing Co. of Billings MT. If you are a hophead you will love their Overland Express IPA. Missoula Montana is not only my birthplace, it is the birthplace of great German Beer. Bayern brewing has a genuine German Brewmaster, and it is very evident through their distinctive German Brews. Harvest Moon was there with their Pigs Ass Porter. I should just stop their since I am definitely biased about any good Porter. Let's just suffice it to say that next to Anchor's it is some of the best Porter I have ever had.


I was a little disappointed (ok a lot) that one whole wall was bottled beers served by volunteers who didn't know beer from Sprite. Pyramid Brewing was one that did not send a rep or or even a tap for that matter. In general Pyramid Brewing is a great company and think this was really an exception to the rule. So I'll forgive them this once. The other wall was corrupted by malt alternatives as they call them. Let me just say this once. THEY HAVE NO PLACE AT A BREWFEST. Yes I love Martini and Rossi just like everyone else, but they better not show up at any beer event I'm hosting. That said the trip was worthwhile. I may just show up next year at the ninth annual Brewfest in Billings, MT.

The West Coast Tour

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How it started...


Well I am headed to Calif. tomorrow to visit Anchor Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing. I hate to play favorites but I really feel that Anchor is the best Brewery in the US. I'll let you know what I think when I return. They are closed to tours right now so we'll see if their Assistant Brewmaster Mark Carpenter can take some time out of his busy schedule to give us the inside scoop.


First stop...


Jacks Cannery Bar. When one first stops into Jack's they can't help but appreciate the atmosphere. They have the place decorated with beer paraphernalia and tap handles. They have over 110 beers on tap. The barmaid who was working the day I was there had a very good working knowledge of beer, as well as the features of what she had on tap that day. She allowed me to sample a half dozen beers. All were excellent. If I wasn't a slacker who waited three months to post to my blog I might even remember which ones they were. Highly recommend if you ever find your self down by the Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco.


Anchor Brewing...


Well almost exactly one month ago I promised to tell you about the private tour of Anchor Brewing as well as Jacks Cannery Bar


Don't let the humble advertising mislead you, Anchor is the best domestic brewery. They do not use unitanks for their brewing. Instead they use open fermentation. But first let me back up a little with my story. I spoke with Mark Carpenter who arranged for Phil Rogers to give us a tour. Mr. Rogers is in charge of training and overseeing the regular tour guides during tour season. Due to my poor navigating skills Jeremy and I arrived about an hour late. Mr. Rogers needed to head out to another appointment in ten minutes. He however was extremely kind to us and gave us over an hour of his valuable time.


He gave us a brew or two while we waited. I was able to experience Anchor Porter on tap at the Anchor Tap Room! What an awesome experience. Then he took us out onto the brewfloor while they were brewing. One of their top brewers opened the brewpot for us, allowed to stick our heads into the Mash Tun and the Lauter Tun. Then after leaving the copper kettle brewroom we proceeded into the cleanroom. In the cleanroom there were thousands of gallons of beer in open fermentation right before our eyes. Stainless tanks not more than a few inches deep held fermenting Anchor Steambeer. Then we proceeded to the hop storage area. There Mr. Phil Rodgers allowed us to see, feel and smell the differences between various hop varieties. From there we went to other fermentation areas, the basement with the conditioning tanks, and then the bottling line.


Afterward we were able to visit and share a pint with a half dozen brewery employees most of whom were brewers. I was able to ask technical questions about the beer and they graciously provided satisfying answers.


I am leaving out so much of the story. I could probably write a book about the experience and still not be giving the full picture of why of Anchor Brewing is the best brewery in the U.S.


Much of their process reminded me of how I brew my own beer. They use natural conditioning to carbonate their beer. They then keep it under pressure while they process and bottle the beer. Their method of homogenization is superior in that is it very quick and not done in the bottle therefore preserving the true character of the brew.


If you ever find yourself in San Francisco be sure to visit Anchor Brewing!


The Brewmaster


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This page is an archive of entries from June 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

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