On a bright sunny day in late September I was traveling along the back highways of Southern Idaho. This part of Idaho is somewhat desolate with low rolling hills, limited vegetation and light-years away from the lushness of Northern Idaho that I call home. As my car crested a small hill I was taken back by what had folded out before me. It was a sea of rippling black lava frozen in time. I stopped my car in a small pullout to get a closer look of the lava that has pushed its way up through the Earth’s surface 15,000 years ago. The warm wind whipped across my face as I stood on the side of the highway. Looking out as far as my eyes could see was The Craters Of the Moon National Monument.
It was the day after my friend’s wedding and I was on the move. I had left the reception early the night before. When I say early I mean 11:30 pm. My friends and the wedding party had fun well into the morning. I had to drive to my accommodations so the responsible thing to do was cut myself off and turn in for the night. This of course resulted in me being up at 7 am while the rest of my friends had only had a few winks of sleep by that point. I milled around Boise until a reasonable texting time, 10 am, to see if anyone wanted to meet for breakfast. They were of course still asleep. There is nothing worse than having the responsible person text you after a long night.
It is no secret that I have an infatuation with Missoula Montana. My blog has been around for just over three years and I have written about Missoula 18 times, with this being the 19th. There is one thing that I have neglected to write about however, the Missoula food scene. I am not much of a foodie hence when I actually do post about food it involves often the food offered at the breweries I am at.
I was asked the other day at work “what’s your favorite food”. I paused and could not come up with any answer. It was embarrassing as you would think by the age of 35 I would know by now what my favorite food is. On the flip side I have no problem answering what beer is my favorite and I could go on and on about why said beer is my favorite. It’s the Wookey Jack Black Rye IPA from Firestone Walker, just in case you were wondering.
I like to visit Missoula Montana often. I have written about it a lot, as well as my fondness for Montana in general. If I ever decided to move it would most likely be to Montana and most likely Missoula. My love for Missoula centers mostly around beer and I consider Missoula a beer town. As of 2016 there are 66,788 people who live in Missoula and there are nine breweries with ten locations. That is a pretty decent saturation.
Fort Missoula was established in 1877 by the United States Army. Anglo-settlers were moving west and the army had started building forts throughout the Northwest to help protect the settlers, who were new to the area and gathering their bearings. The area was originally inhabited by the Nez Perce, a fairly peaceful tribe, however by 1877 they were reluctantly being pushed onto a reservation, causing tension in the area. Major battles between the Nez Perce and the Army erupted in 1877 at Whitebird and Big Hole along with a previous battle in 1876 at Little Big Horn.
I know I give my GPS, Samantha, a lot of crap for not knowing where places are, or getting me lost often, but it may not always be fair to get upset with her dimness. I mean lets be honest, I do not know where the things are that she is looking for either. Granted I am not linked up to a satellite orbiting the earth like she is… yet… but if someone asked me how to get some where new I would probably have to recalculate a few times too.
I have however referred to myself as the human-brewery-locator, sort of like a GPS for beer. It is a gift that will grant me nothing more than endless amounts of money spent on beer and countless hours of time spend on torrid love affairs that I manifest in my head with other brewery dwellers.
2015 was a record breaking year in the Northwestern part of the United States. Although some records are not always highly sought after. This record for 2015 was for worst recorded wildfire season since 2006. As of September 2015 8,821,040 acres of land had burned during the 2015 fire season. Fire season usually starts around April and ends around October each year for the Northwest.
Big Sky Brewing in Missoula Montana was my unicorn. I had visited Missoula Montana an uncountable amount of times and had been unsuccessful in stopping at Big Sky Brewing every time until my last visit. In all fairness I had only made one real attempt to go to the brewery before, letting my dimwitted GPS Samantha, lead the way to the brewery. Samantha can always be relied upon to get me lost and on the first attempt to visit Big Sky Brewing she did just that. I got frustrated and decided that the winery that she had led me to would be sufficient. I am sure it was her apology to me for her lack of providing the service her company promised me, giving me directions to where I ask her to take me.
When I was in my late teens my mom said to me “Go to as many concerts as you can”. Although her statement was simple the meaning behind it was important to her. Like most parents they want their children to have a better life than they did, experience more, be successful and lead a life they are proud of.
Earlier in my trip I had visited my friend Amy, who lives north of Seattle. She knew that I was going to make a stop in Forks and at the Hoh Rain Forest so she recommended that I stop by Fish Tail Brewing in Olympia Washington on my way home. It was taking the long way home but I have said it before and I will say it again sometimes I go great distances for beer.
It was late in the afternoon when I arrived to Olympia and I still had not had lunch yet. Fortunately Fist Tail Brewing offered a food menu in addition to their beers, which came in handy as I could take out two birds with one stone. Pump myself full of both beer and food. I walked into the taproom, adorably called The Fish Bowl, and found myself a seat at the bar. I skimmed over the beer list that is comprised mostly of organic ales. Organic is not a term that one can throw around in the United States. To officially call your product organic it has to be certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). And while I do not believe organic beer is superior over other beers at least I can rest assure that the beer was made with ingredients that will not grow a foot out of my head!