Monday, June 14, 2010

Bozeman Brewing Company

In February Tom Ciccateri, the 2005 BDOTY winner, was back in Denver as a judge for this year’s national Beerdrinker of the Year Finals. Tom knew I spent five years at MSU and visit Bozeman regularly, so he was excited to show me a picture on his camera of the Bozeman Brewing Company tap house. I was embarrassed to say that I had never been there. We joked as to whether or not my title should be revoked since I had not even visited the lone tap house in my second home town!

The tap room for Bozone, as it is affectionately called, is located on 504 N. Broadway in Bozeman, a bit off the beaten path. When I am in Bozeman, usually over MSU Homecoming weekend, I spend most of my time on campus in meetings, or downtown. The brewery is on the exact opposite side of town as the campus tucked away in an industrial area on the north fringes. But a visit to the brewery and adjoining tap house is well worth the bike ride.
The Bozone tap room is like being in a large living room with a bar and numerous tap handles at one end. It is open from 4 – 8 pm, and like all other Montana tap rooms, patrons are limited to 48 ounces of beer.
I was very lucky to get a private tour of the recently renovated brewery from brewer Tucker Kalberg. Bozeman Brewing purchased Spanish Peak’s old equipment after they dismantled in the 90s. For years they produced beers on this seven barrel system. Faced with high demand they were required to upgrade their entire system to a new 20 barrel system that also employs a number of 40 barrel cylindrical-conical unitanks for fermentation. Their facility is quite large, and they still have adequate room for further expansion according to Tucker.
The first beer I tried was the Pinhead Pils. (6.3% abv) It was very pale in color with a nice firm head. It was a clean Pilsner with a noticeable presence of alcohol, and it finished with a barely detectible note of diacetyl. (so does Pilsner Urquell) Pinhead had a nice hop balance from start to finish. I noticed that it was a very high alcohol Pilsner, and then I also noticed that all of their offerings were quite strong – all over 6%. This may be the Bozone way of “getting around” the 48 ounce per person limit.

Tucker said once per year they make a special wet-hop beer made with “C” hops all grown locally in the Gallatin Valley. A celebration of the fall harvest and local ingrediants. This beer sounds very unique and like quite a treat – especially for hop lovers. I’ll have to visit next fall when it is on tap.
I won’t go into details about the other beers, you’ll have to visit yourself and try them out. Don’t worry about too much about not being able to sample them given the limit, they do offer flights of beer (four 4 ounce glasses of your choice), and if you still don’t get a chance to sample all of their styles, just take home a couple growlers, or come back the next day. There is no better place in the States to visit than Bozeman. So hang out and stay for a while. With that said, I have one final note. When I woke up on Friday morning it was snowing. (It will snow in July too) The locals wanted me to make sure and point that out. Tourism is great, but rich immigrants wear on the natives. Bozemanites love harsh winters and are doing their best to chase the flat-landers back to their warm weather states!

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