Local pale ales shine with complex flavors, rich taste

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Welcome to one of our new monthly arts and culture installments.

Beer is a burgeoning industry in this corner of Montana, with artisans from different clans collaborating and competing for business as the craft beer industry continues to pick up steam. The result is an expanding array of brewers, at an expanding array of breweries, creating an expanding array of beers.

The boom can be overwhelming for those who don’t spend a lot of time thinking about beer, sort of like complicated city council proposals or arcane inter-governmental fights over water rights.

That’s where we come in. As interpreters for the common man and woman, we’re featuring three new beers per month from breweries in Northwest Montana. We’ll tell you why you might like them, or why you might want to steer clear, and hopefully convince you to try at least a few of them in support of local businesses. Over time we anticipate themes emerging, but we are also open to new ideas. If you have some, feel free to send us an email at the address you’ll find at the bottom of the article.

Without further ado, here are this week’s picks:

Beer #1: Rope Tow Pale Ale, Kalispell Brewing Company

This pale ale is emblematic of a lot of the beers at Kalispell Brewing Company, with a clear dedication to honoring the taste of the 2-Row, Munich and Crystal malt blend and being careful to keep the Cascade and Kent Golding hops from paving over the top of it. It’s light and hoppy in texture but much more complex in taste and relatively dark in color, as pale ales go. It’s not one to quaff quickly, but you could definitely enjoy two or three if you had good company.

Beer #2: Life’s a Beech Rauchbier, Kalispell Brewing Company

The brewery menu describes this beer as a smoky lager, and they aren’t lying. A Rauchbier is a beer made from malted barley that was dried over an open flame, which may be why this beer is more akin to inhaling some smoke off a big campfire than the light smoky taste imparted by some stouts and porters. That being said, for beer aficionados who want something different and those that really enjoy a smoky taste, this is a distinctive and brilliant beer, packing an impressive punch and a nice seasonal touch in the heart of winter. It’s near the middle of the color spectrum, not far off from the Rope Tow Pale Ale. This isn’t your typical lager, and it isn’t for the faint of heart.

Beer #3: Curtain Call Black IPA, Backslope Brewing

This is one of the better Black IPAs I’ve tasted this season, a great blend with a rich, smooth base and a bitter, hoppy aroma. You can tell a lot by the way it looks when poured, a tight but dense brew with a heavy foamy head and a distinctly opaque, nearly black color. It has a light smoky taste, though that may have been residual from the Rauchbier. This IPA clocks in at a strong but not overwhelming 7.1 percent, which feels about perfect.

Suggest a beer for reveiw or send comments to pfrissell@dailyinterlake.com.

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