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.
Sometimes wanderlust overtakes me. Normally I am a planner. Down. To. The. Minute. But on a Sunday late last year, I decided to not plan down to the minute. It was a beautiful sunny day that was meant for exploring. I had also not been to Montana since January of that year. Blasphemy.
The phone rang with the question “Are you enjoying your beer at Beaverhead Brewing?” I quickly looked around the tap-room perplexed, looking for my dad. His voice was on the other end of the phone. He was of course not there, but he did have a very detailed itinerary that I had left with him, as I do before any trip I take. I leave the itinerary with him just in case I go missing. So far, so good. I have not gone missing and apparently I show up to where I am supposed to be at the time I scheduled myself to be.
I have been frequenting Butte Montana a lot in the past year. Although Butte is probably best known for it’s mining history, Butte does have a pretty decent beer scene. Butte Brewing is fairly new on the beer scene however. Well sort of. The original Butte Brewing was established in 1880 and closed in 1965. After a brief 50 year nap, the rights to the name, logo and root beer recipe became available and were snatched up by a local home-brewer. In 2015 a new and shiny Butte Brewing opened their doors.
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.
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.
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.
On August 20th 1910 a firestorm ripped through Idaho and Montana leaving a path of 3 million acres decimated. Historians would later refer to this fire as “The Big Burn”, “The Great Fire of 1910” and “The Big Blowup”. The forest still wears its scars to this day and the tragic loss of life both in human and animals will never be accurately accounted for.
Great Burn Brewing in Missoula Montana pays homage to the Fire of 1910. The tasting room is surrounded by heavy wood beaming, a wooden bar and pictures from the fire. I found myself a seat at the bar and began reviewing the beer list while learning at bit of history behind the fire of 1910.
I am always looking for a reason to visit Montana. It’s beautiful scenery, fast speed limits and well let’s be honest… the beer! My friend Jen, Boomer and I headed over to Helena in the morning last summer. It was a bit of a drive but we did not mind as we all love visiting Montana and we all love beer, Boomer included.
When I was in elementary school the local newspaper asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. There were the typical answers of firefighter, astronaut and then my response, an Olympic skier who wins a gold medal and lives in Whitefish Montana. It was a pretty specific dream that obviously I did not achieve… and I’m pretty sure I won’t achieve the gold medal part this late in life.