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.
It had been a few years since Samantha’s misdirection to Big Sky Brewing and I now found myself in their parking lot about to walk inside their tasting room, thanks mostly to myself, although Samantha was along for the ride. Samantha is a pain in the ass but I still allow her to give me directions and sometimes she gets it right.
It is important to note that Big Sky Brewing only has a tasting room and that you are not allowed to purchase pints of beer in their tasting room. Montana has some strange laws when it comes to breweries and in my opinion seem to punish the brewers who are doing well. For any breweries who produces 10,000 barrels (approximately 2 million pints of beer) or more of beer a year are not allowed to sell pints of beer in their tasting rooms. Big Sky Brewing falls into this category. Add that on to the already other weird law that any brewery in Montana is not allowed to sell pints of beer past 8 pm and growlers past 9 pm unless they hold a valid liquor license. If a liquor license is held the brewery can sell beer until 2 pm. Although that second law does not impact Big Sky Brewing, that’s some f’d up beer laws, right?
I found myself a spot at the bar and ordered my first of three tasters, with the Rye Pale Ale up first. This beer has a 6.7% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) and a 55 International Bittering Unit (IBU). I am always a fan of rye beers and this beer is at the top of my rye beer list. The beer has a nice rye flavor kick to it and balances well with it’s hoppyness.
My next beer was the Big Sky IPA. This beer has a 6.2% ABV and a 55 IBU. Lots of citrus notes and hoppy flavors run throughout this American style IPA. This beer had a nice crisp flavor that pairs up with a deep amber color.
The Pygmy Owl was my last test taste. This beer has a 4.5 ABV and a 30 IBU. It is considered an itty bitty IPA. I was hoping for a nice session IPA style but what I got tasted more like it belonged to one of the big beer producers in the United States: Bud, Coors or Miller.
One benefit of Big Sky Brewing producing over 10,000 barrels of beer is that they distribute outside of their small nook in the world. That means I can pick up a six or twelve pack of Big Sky in my hometown and I do that often. With that being said I have also tried the Scapegoat Pale Ale. This flavorful citrus beer has a 5% ABV and a 40 IBU. If you like a stout I highly recommend the Ivan The Terrible Russian Imperial Stout. Flavors of cocoa, bourbon and fruity notes give this beer complex flavors as it dances across your taste buds. The label is pretty funny as well, however, may only be funny to me because I have a friend who resembles the man on the label. My friend looks so much like him that if I didn’t know any better I would think it was him except my friend is, unfortunately, allergic to hops and can not drink beer. So sad. The Russian Imperial Stout has a 9.5 ABV and a 65 IBU so I recommend not to drink too many in a row as you may turn into Ivan The Terrible.
The Big Sky Brewing Tasting Room is located at 5417 Trumpeter Way in Missoula. They are open Monday – Saturday. And just an FYI dogs are not allowed in the tasting room. I watched one get skirted out as quickly as he had entered while I was there. So sad. During the summer months, the brewery runs a concert series that draws in acts you have actually hear of. For 2016 they are hosting Boston, Barenaked Ladies, and Sublime with Rome to name a few. I personally have never attended but have had friends who have and they say it is a blast!
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