Let us step back to 2012 to the inaugural day of my first solo road trip. It was a warm sunny day when I arrived at the town of Polson Montana. A slight breeze created a twinkling ripple in the jewel-toned water. I navigated my truck, following the instructions of Samantha, my GPS, leading away from the main streets and the lake into a more residential area.
Samantha then informed me, “You have reached your final destination”. I looked at the building’s exterior, the wooden facade mimicking an old western bar, inclusive of swinging doors. The kind of doors you would imagine a black hat wearing cowboy bursting through looking to settle a disagreement with the white hat cowboy. And a duel at high noon out in the street would then ensue.
I did not step foot in Glacier Brewing that day, driving away, scared of what was behind those swinging doors. I am not sure what my fear was, but I had manifested some crazed threat, influenced by the exterior of the brewery. Even my memories of the brewery had become exaggerated, which I soon realized upon my second trip, nearly 5 years later.
I pulled up to the brewery, looked at the exterior of the building, which had not changed since my last visit, and scoffed at myself. My 2012 behavior was ridiculous. There was no reason to be afraid. Sure the brewery had a western theme to it, but it’s Montana. Herding cattle is a way of life there, so why not play up what you are known for?
I parked my car near the brewery. I now had a car, instead of a truck, because not only had I improved my solo traveling skills in those five years, I had also dumped the gas guzzling truck I once adored for a fuel efficient car. Although I now feel more like a soccer mom, the car does afford more comfort for my dogs as we travel.
I walked into the brewery, through the swinging doors and straight to the bar. Because I was traveling with my dogs, I asked the beertender if they were dog-friendly. The answer would be the deciding factor of how long I would stay at the brewery. Although it was not an overly hot day, leaving the dogs in the car is never an option I like to take. Fortunately, the brewery had a dog-friendly fenced in outside area with picnic tables.
It is always a little daunting to handle carrying beer and walking two dogs who are still working on their manners. So I ordered my flight of beer and went back to the car to get the dogs. The dogs burst through the swinging doors like the true cow dogs they are. I moved them outside quickly through a sliding door to the outside space.
With the dogs outside I returned to the bar for my beer, only to find that Jovi was standing next to me. She looked up at me proudly “Look, Mom, I can open doors!”. Although I am often pleased with how smart she is, I was not pleased with the fact that she had left the door open. Leaving the door open meant that her less than smart brother came bounding through the door. Because Boomer needed no recognition for opening the door, he headed over to a table full of other beer drinkers. He then proceeded to stick his nose in several purses of these beer drinkers. Because I keep treats in my purse, I can only assume, he believes everyone keeps treats in their purses as well.
I quickly wrangled up my dogs, ushering them outside and apologized to, well, damn near everyone in the bar, as I stood there red faced. I grabbed my flight of beer from the bar and headed outside to join my two shameless dogs.
With the dogs preoccupied with sniffing around the yard, I began my flight. The flight looked to be somewhat large, however, two of the nine samples were sodas made by the brewery. Honestly, I was a little more excited about tasting the sodas than the beer. I know, I probably caused you to furrow your brow.
My first beer taste was one I had been thinking about since 2012. The Flathead Cherry Ale. This beer is similar to a pilsner as it is light in style but bold in cherry taste. The Flathead area is known for growing cherries, hence the use of the cherry. The beer has a 5.5% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and a 10 International Bittering Unit (IBU). I liked this beer, it was refreshing and the use of cherry was not overpowering.
I moved on to the Port Polson Pilsner with a 5.5% ABV and a 10.6 IBU. This beer would be pleasing to anyone who likes macro beers, as it is similar in style, however better in taste. A light citrus flavor flows throughout this beer and leaves you with a crisp finish.
The Golden Grizzly Ale was my next taste. As we were in grizzly country it was only natural to have a beer named after the brewery’s neighbors. This beer style is not one of my favorites, a German Kolsch, so it ended up not being one of my top tastes. The Grizzly has a 5.5% ABV and a 22.1 IBU. It is golden in color and pairs up with a low hop profile.
The next beer, Wild Horse Island Pale Ale, throws a shout out to the nearby State Park, Wild Horse Island. This beer is as close as you will get to an IPA at Glacier Brewing. They do not officially brew an IPA. The Wild Horse has a 5.5% ABV and a 64.7 IBU. It is a decent IBU for hop heads and packs in the flavor.
Up next was the Glacier Select Beer, an Oktoberfest style, that appears to be available all year. My visit to the brewery was in May and Oktoberfest styles are traditional to late September and early October, so it was a nice off-season treat. With a 6.7% ABV and a 21.8 IBU this beer delivered a solid sweet and malty mix along with a pretty amber color.
The Slurry Bomber Stout was my next taste and offered up a flavorful sweetness of vanilla pairing up with roasted notes. The mouth feel was smooth and velvety and would be thoroughly enjoyed on a cool day next to a fire. The beer has a 5.5% ABV and a 39 IBU.
My final taste of beer was a seasonal rotation, the Winter Sun Saison. This beer rolled in with an impressive 6.9% ABV and a 30 IBU. This is a style of beer I enjoy because of the spicy flavors and this beer stays true to its style.
It was now time to move on to the soda tastings. Although I was at a brewery, I always appreciate a brewery who brews their own soda. Those designated drivers have to drink something, right? And why shouldn’t it be tasty soda? My first soda taste was the Polson Pepper Soda. I was initially put off by the thought of pepper in my soda but was instantly sold after my first taste. The soda reminded me a lot of a vanilla soda or what I would refer to as “sugar water”. Because of the vanilla flavor, I immediately thought this soda would pair nicely with another one of my favorite things, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. Yum!
My last soda tasting was their Glacier Brewing Company Root Beer. I was again in love. Their root beer is made from using authentic sarsaparilla root along with both white and brown sugars. The combination gives off a pleasing sugary flavor that reminds me of those old time root beer barrel candies. Again I would mix this with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum because I love rum and root beer together!
After completing my tastings I rounded up my dogs, took the empty beer tasters back to the bar and hoped for the best as I escorted my dogs out of the brewery. Although they still caused a bit of commotion, there was no pick-pocketing of purses as we departed, much to Boomer’s dismay.
Glacier Brewing is located at 6 Tenth Street East in Polson Montana. They are open Monday – Saturday 3 pm to 8 pm and closed on Sundays.