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When in Montana……….

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In the early New Year, we managed to get away to Montana for some recreation. While we found lots of fun and different things to do, our favourite adventure was visiting Tamarack Brewing Company. The layout was open and inviting and the staff warm and welcoming. First on our (hoped for) agenda was tasting the brewed offerings with lunch, and then a tour.
Amy brought us out a few flights of tasters, with 8 regular and 3 seasonal offerings. We were thankful to have ordered lunch, as we didn’t realize how substantial the tasters were going to be. (Like that was a problem!) It was a lot of fun working our way through the flights from light to dark, and then again, repeat as needed. There was a surprisingly large variety of styles, and very on trend seasonal choices. We started with the wheat beers and then worked our way through the rye beer, many variations of IPA’s, Winter Spice and then Stouts. Here are our top 4 picks – based of course purely on our tasting profile as a group:
#1 – Sip and Go Naked – American Style Hefe. Billed as bursting with Apricot flavor and aroma, light and crisp and pleasing to the pallet. This wheat beer did not disappoint in any way. Hands down, everyone at the table wished we had more of this one.
#2 – Switchback Stout – Oatmeal Stout. Billed as boastful in its smoothness and true to nature in its complexity and drinkability, with dark chocolate and caramel malts. We found the chocolate incredibly well balanced, with a nice nutty roasted quality and no bitter or burnt aftertaste. This stout also had a beautiful full and velvety smooth mouth feel.
#3 – Rye Sally Rye – American Style IPA. This Rye-P-A was billed as having a bright citrus aroma, well balanced and full of flavor. Citra hops and rye add twang to this hopped-up pale ale. There were many exceptional IPA’s in the lineup, with IBU’s between 40-70, a style for every taste (including on-trend seasonal Black IPA). This rye version took the show for us for it’s pairing with Citra hops. The citrus aroma, taste and resultant appropriately bitter finish was an experience to remember.
#4 – Yard Sale Amber – Amber Ale. Billed as bold malt flavor with smooth drinkability. We noted that this medium bodied ale was exactly that – smooth and drinkable. A great beer to sit with friends and sip.
As wonderful as the beer was, I would be remiss not to note that the food was unexpectedly exceptional. Not your typical pub fare that’s for sure .

So……. After tasting the beer, hopes were high to get a peek at the action. Our luck was with us as both Graham and Joe were in working on the beer. Graham walked us through the brew room, where a beer in process was just ready to move on to the next step. Joe was testing yeast strains – which I found very interesting to hear more about considering the direction home beer making has taken at The Home Vintner over the last year. Both brew-masters were enthusiastic about their craft, with their eyes firmly set on the next new offering, limited run, or seasonal selection. If I wasn’t already passionate enough about beer making, their enthusiasm was contagious!

Last year, Tamarack made their first appearance at the Calgary BeerFest and came away with 3 awards.
SILVER for International Ale: Yard Sale Amber
SILVER for International Lager: Montana Lager
BRONZE for People’s Choice – for which they were totally stoked to have been picked by the public. They are already looking forward to their next opportunity to come to Beerfest, so that may be a closer to home option for tasting their beer yourself. A few of their beers have been picked up for distribution in some Calgary Craft Pubs – so if you spot a location carrying them, maybe you could let the rest of us know. If you are a huge IPA aficionado – well, you’ll just have to travel to Montana to experience the line-up yourself!

Thanks again to Amy, Graham and Joe for the great tour! If I mixed anything up – let me know! (and I’ll blame it on having finished my flight).

Kellie – Airdrie Home Vintner

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