Archive for the 'Big Sky' category
Finally tonight, I think we’re covering the last of the year-round brews from Big Sky. This one also has some sort of horned mountain beast on the label but, frankly, I don’t know what it is. Regardless, it’s the IPA, and that’s always a telling beer for any brewery. If you can do a good India Pale, then odds are you’ll be in my good spirits…
This beer pours a color that is nearly identical to Big Sky’s Scape Goat pale ale. It is a very dark golden with noticeable tints of ruby red. There are spotty bits of off-white head floating around. The aroma of this is very hoppy, and the best kind – big floral northwestern hops with a sweet and flowery freshness that makes me anxious to give it a taste. In the mouth, this is hop from start to finish. On the tip of the tongue, the hop is all floral and fresh and tastes like a big handful of wet hops. However, as the beer travels down the tongue, this floral tint becomes mustier and more bitter, reaching a peak almost at the back of the mouth. This beer actually ends mighty smooth for such a bitter brew. It hits the throat, calms down on the bitterness, and then sends a a goodbye kiss of a fresh floral hop note straight up to the nose, and this sits with you for many seconds after the beer is gone. It’s actually a very good beer. It hits in a pleasant fashion, builds to a hop bomb, and then quickly diminishes to leave you with a pleasant aftertaste – sort of the roman candle of IPAs.
Honestly, while I’ve always loved Big Sky because of the good memories that go with my thoughts of their beers, I always saw them as a gimmicky beer, I suppose because I’ve generally seen them at touristy spots. However, this beer concretes my new impression that Big Sky makes some serious brews that are well worth your time. I haven’t had a bad brew from these folks yet, and all of them are larger than what you would expect from the style. Definitely try these out and, if you have to go to the Rockies to do it, then all the better for you…
Next up from Big Sky is a beer with a picture of a goat on the label…
The Scape Goat gives a very clear pour with ample carbonation. The color is a very deep golden with hints of amber – certainly darker than most any pale ale I’ve seen, with a spotty off-white head. The aroma is rather surprising for a pale ale. There is some light malt here, which isn’t odd, but it’s joined with a candy sweetness that is akin to SweeTarts – this makes for an aroma that is certainly pleasant (who doesn’t like SweeTarts?), but is admittedly a bit odd. In the mouth, this beer is more typical of a pale ale, albeit with a bit more hop. The initial sensation here, and the one that sticks around for the front part of the mouth, is of a sweet malt with a noticeable carbonation burn. Towards the back of the tongue, we could a good blast of hop – the bitterness here is somewhat floral but has a rich musty note to it, as well. This hoppiness really takes shape at the back of the throat to give us an aftertaste that is rather strong and creeps up into the nose. As far as pale ales go, this is a bit different than the gold standard (Sierra Nevada). However, it is very good – sort of an india/pale ale hybrid – heavier on the hop with a bigger overall profile. I suppose it’s only fitting that a beer with a goat on the label should be larger than life (I don’t know what I meant by that). Quite good, and another impressive brew for Big Sky.
As I’m sure all of you SevenPack groupies remember, I once reviewed the Big Sky Moose Drool ale, and I found it quite tasty. In fact, I associate all of these Big Sky brews with trips to the West. Whether it be to Yellowstone or Glacier or the Tetons or whatever, these beers bring to mind relaxing times in beautiful settings, so it’s difficult for me to give them unbiased reviews. However, I picked up a couple of Big Sky’s other offerings, and I’m hoping that a hotel in North Dakota is a decent setting to give them more honest reviews. Here goes nothing….
The Trout Slayer doesn’t actually define a style on the label, but it sure seems to be a standard golden ale. The pour of this is crystal clear with a medium golden color and a barely noticeable thin white head. The aroma of the beer is rather thick and sweet with a caramel note, which is slightly unexpected. In the mouth, this beer is full and flavorful. From the beginning to the end, the beer has a rich bready flavor with hints of a more sugary sweetness that again brings to mind caramel. There isn’t a very large hop note here, although there is a light bitterness that shows up in the aftertaste and leaves you with a tongue coated with rich sweetness and a bitter bite at the back of the throat. Frankly, this would be a great beer while casting a line in some mountain stream, which I reckon is what Big Sky had in mind when they named it. It’s fairly refreshing while still being big and flavorful – great beer for the golden ale genre, and one I’m sure to revisit when I can find it.
I’ve had a little bit of experience with Missoula, Montana breweries. The bulk of these experiences involve floating on a raft down a dirty river in 115 degree heat, kicking back cans of Kettle House brewery’s Double Haul IPA and Cold Smoke Scotch Ale. And, let me tell you, those were some good beers. I can’t deny that the conditions under which they were consumed may have contributed to the tastiness, but I can guarantee you that they are excellent beers under any circumstances. So, it is after these experiences that I come to my first experience with Big Sky brewery, which is arguably the more obvious brewery to enjoy in Missoula. If you have any experience with Yellowstone National Park, then you have no doubt seen signs of Moose Drool, as it adorns many t-shirts and every bar that you’ll see in Yellowstone, sharing tap space with Fat Tire from the good folks at New Belgium. The question is, does the brew live up to the plethora of exposure it gets out West?
The Moose Drool pours a deep brown that seems opaque. However, upon holding up to a light, you realize that it is, in fact, quite transparent and obviously filtered. The head is thin and caramel colored. The predominant aroma in the Drool is nutty with hints of a molasses sweetness. The aroma is fairly obvious, but still requires some conscious effort in order to get a real nose-full. In the mouth, the Drool is a fairly typical brown, albeit a bit sweeter than what is normal. From the front of the tongue to the back of the mouth, the beer maintains its sweetness and only seems to build into a nearly cloying sweetness at the very back of the tongue. Accompanying this sweetness is the aforementioned nuttiness from the aroma. This nuttiness is especially predominant about the middle of the mouth where it separates from the sweetness and migrates up to the nasal cavity. All things considered, this is a relatively simple beer. However, if you’re into brown ales that aren’t overpowering and have a good dose of sweet, then this would be hard to beat. It’s truly a tasty beer in the sense of a good session brown ale that, while it won’t blow your mind, will make a great daily drinker and has a fun name.