I am home from my trip to Billings and the research did not do the brewing community justice….Billings, Montana Knows Beer! Wow, I am impressed!
Part 1 – on the day I arrived I checked into the Crown Plaza Hotel…well located and walking distance to lots of food and beer. The other plus, they have a shuttle to and from the airport. Enough of that. After checking in it was time for food and beer. I wandered down to the Montana Brewing Company Restaurant and Brew Pub. They had 8 of their offerings on tap. I wanted to maintain my equilibrium so I ordered the sampler, 8, four once servings……that seemed to be manageable, 32 ounces of beer, really just two pints over a meal!
What caught my eye on the menu was the Gorgonzola Chicken Sandwich and of course the 8 beer sampler. So, how did it go? Well, I’ll tell you how it went.
The sampler arrived first. – Yee Haw Cowboy = served with a placemat describing each sample.
I drank them in the recommended order. Yes dear, I do follow orders – sometimes!
The MBC Golden Ale was up first. It was a nice crisp tasting beer, one that you could probably drink all day long in the summer. A very refreshing beer.
The next in the sequence was their Happy Hour Hero – an English ale. They described it as a session ale and I would agree. It was also very easy to drink – a nice golden honey color and nice, nice taste. Two for Two on the Bishop-Beer-O-Meter!
The MBC Wheat was also a winner – I am beginning to see a pattern here! Comes with a lemon slice that compliments the mild citrus taste and aroma. I think my bride would enjoy this ale – nice citrus notes but they are in the background and no coriander/bitter orange that the Belgian Wit beers seem to carry. Low on the IBU scale but that is not a bad thing. I may want to try to clone this one for my bride!
Next in the recommended sequence was the Pomegranate Wheat. I was expecting something that might be too sweet and fruity but I was pleased with the offering. Yes there was the pomegranate flavor but it was really more of an accent flavor and not dominant. I am a lover of pomegranates….goes back to my childhood – my aunt Josie would make pomegranate jelly every fall and I loved it. My uncle worked for the water company in Taft and the Western Waterworks equipment yards were ringed with pomegranate bushes/trees. I loved to peel and eat the pomegranates…lots of work, small rewards but the flavor is awesome. Leaves me longing for some buttered toast and my Aunt’s jelly.
My waitress’ favorite MBC beer was up next. The MBC Amber Ale – first sip and I said to myself, “Oh my!” This was a good beer, nice feel in the mouth, nice aroma and enough malt flavor without being overwhelming. She knows her beer.
The MBC Pale Ale was next up and this was my favorite. The cliché popped into head – “Now that’s what I’m talking about!” it was that good – in my opinion of course! Nice hops flavor, pleasant aroma, copper-colored and slightly cloudy…..very nice beer.
The British Invasion IPA by MBC followed the Pale Ale. IBU rating of 50 but honestly I was a little disappointed – I was expecting something a little more bold in the hops aspect of the beer. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a good beer but not what I expected as an IPA.
Last on the sampler list was the MBC Custer’s Last Stout – and oatmeal stout. Complex flavors – a bit of a bitter coffee flavor and a bit of a caramel aroma. A good stout but not quite and bold as I like. Still, very drinkable and a good beer to end an evening with on a cold Montana winter night….not sure I want to be out in the Montana winter cold at night, but this stout may stave off the chills if I find myself out!
My choice….I had a couple of bites of Gorgonzola chicken left so, I ordered a pint of the MBC pale. I gues that makes 3 pints of beer – still a reasonable number and not overwhelming. I still found time that afternoodn to spend nearly an hour in the hotel gym….not napping, I really worked out- trust me!
Montana – who knew? The state is very well represented in the craft brewing category – Part 1 B – I did try a Big Sky IPA the next evening at dinner with my client….Missoula, Montana beer from the Big Sky Brewery – it was good enough that I had two! Check out the Montana listings in the link below.