2015 BEER DISCOVERY TOUR: Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula, MT (July 9th, Brewery Stop #34) (recovered post) The 34th brewery visited during our cross-country beer discovery tour (click to read about the whole trip) was Big Sky Brewing Co. in Missoula Montana. After visiting family in Bismark North Dakota, we hit the road west and crossed the great barren north, or ‘Fly-over’ country as most call it. We got into Missoula in the afternoon and checked into our hotel, and to refridgerate the beers we had in our trunk.
The brewery scene in Missoula wasn’t totally unfamiliar to us as we had visited it a year prior for a few days while on a work trip. We knew that tasters were limited and the amount of beer they could serve a person was restricted per visit, so we planned on just hitting a few breweries for tasters and then finding dinner and going from there. The first brewery we hit as it was closest to the hotel we stayed at was Big Sky. It’s located on the edge of town just off the freeway and it’s pretty easy to find.
The production facility and tasting room look like a big warehouse and there’s no food on site, just a small bar, have growler fills and bottle/keg sales, you’ll find a few standing tables, and some swag you can buy along the walls. So, don’t plan on spending a lot of time there if you do go. Be it that we had also tried most of their bottled beers before, we didn’t anticipate finding anything new or exciting. I knew ahead from a previous visit that they typically only had one or two ‘one-offs’ at the taproom. This happend to the be the case this time around. They do have a larger outdoor space that they use for concerts during the summer, and do offer brewery tours but we didn’t catch a show or do the tour this time around.
Regarding the environment, it’s a friendly space that the bartenders offer up descriptions and can talk in depth about their beers. They do have ‘free’ tasters each day per person, but since we had not eaten yet, we kept the selection of tasters to just the beers that were new or we had not tried yet. We did have a chance to discuss some of the local brewing scene with some other people that were tasting and with the bartenders.
The overall takeaway is that it’s a pretty large production brewery with some solid beers available on site. Their one-offs are interesting, but I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way for stuff I can get back home. There’s enough other interesting breweries that this would be towards the bottom of the list if I had to make choices and was limited on time. Regarding the tasters we had, they go from right to left on the two pictures. We sampled five beers, and the Rye Pale Ale was the one that stood out the most. Be warned that if you expect to find breweries open late, you’ll find out that most of them close (if they are just production and tasting rooms) early in the evening. So plan accordingly.
|Rye Pale Ale
Big Sky Brewing Co. • American Pale Ale • IBU: 55 • ABV: 6.7% • SRM: 18
Medium amber draft with a solid tan head with great retention. The aromatics are dry rye breads and some pine hints. The front mouth is a mix of pine with citrus hops washed over by the dry sharpness of the rye malts. This is a great rendition of APA using rye as a primary grain. The mid to back has some notes of dried fruit and the solid sweet caramel with spicy notes is great. Washes a bit dry on the back.
|Pygmy Owl Itty Bitty IPA
Big Sky Brewing Co. • IPA • IBU: 30 • ABV: 4.2% • SRM: 6
Staw yellow hue and bright white foamy head with some large bubbly lacing. The nose is fresh cut grassy hops and pine resins. The front mouth isn’t too sharp, but has enough bite to it that it’s an IPA without being overbearing. Mouthfeel is minimal, medium carbonation, some dry grains going on. The back is a bit rounded with the hops fading off the back quickly.
|Summer Honey Ale
Big Sky Brewing Co. • American Blonde Ale • IBU: 20 • ABV: 5% • SRM: 7
Medium orange-yellow hued draft with a solid white foamy head, decent retention and some spidery lacing. The aromatics are cereal grains and sweet sugars. The front mouth is thin, crackery malts, hints of herbal and grassy hops. The sugar/honey flavors show up a little bit on the mid to back with the dried grains in the after taste. Thin bodied, mild flavor profiles, and a lower ABV makes this a great summer sipper.
Big Sky Brewing Co. • Wheat Ale • IBU: 35 • ABV: 5% • SRM: 16
Darker yellow/straw colored draft, slight off-white head and tons of retention. The nose is dried wheat and some dried tropical fruit hints. The front mouth is solid wheat and tropical hop resins with a linger dry bitterness to the mid/back. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, coats the tongue with lots of mild malts and some lingering dry-hopped vibe.
Big Sky Brewing Co. • Cream Ale • IBU: N/A • ABV: 4.6% • SRM: 5
Bright yellow draft with a small frothy white head, great retention and some small bubbly lacing. The nose is a mix of caramel and sweet corn/vegital notes. The front mouth is chewy bread, dried hay, and minimal hops. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium-high carbonation, sweet and lingering with a creamy tongue coating.