In September 2016, Erin and I traveled to Montana. In preparation for our trip, I asked a colleague who used to live in Missoula for her favorite food spots and any brewery recommendations. In this conversation I found out she was gluten free but would drink one beer and one beer only (consequences be damned). That beer is Cold Smoke Scotch Ale by KettleHouse Brewing Co. When we arrived in Montana, we found Cold Smoke in every reputable establishment. Erin was apprehensive because she doesn’t like smoky flavors in her beer (I sure do). But it wasn’t smoky – it was delightfully dark and smooth with a slightly coffee finish. We drank it everywhere we could, which was not our usual beer tourism way of finding diversity in new places. We couldn’t imagine that any other beer would quench our thirsts after sublime days spent hiking in jagged mountains.
Now that winter is approaching, our thoughts turn to one of our favorite beer styles for the season: scotch ale. And every time I think of scotch ale, I think of Cold Smoke (sorry Chubb’s!). So we found a clone recipe online and brought it to our pal Mike at Beerology. Of course, now at home we see that our clone recipe is um, a little different from how KettleHouse describes it. Clone recipe says it’s 8.8% abv and Kettlehouse says it’s 6.5% abv (which corresponds to our memories of NOT being wasted after drinking these). Our recipe says it will be 25 ibu and KettleHouse says it’s 11 ibu. Mike says we should err on the high side to balance things out. Nevertheless, we persist in brewing our adapted recipe.
- 2 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt 120
- 1 lb roasted barley
- .5 oz Cascade hops (60 min)
- 1 oz East Kent Goldings (5 oz)
- 2 packages of Safale American US-05 yeast
- 3 lbs golden light dry extract
- 9 lbs Munich liquid malt extract LME
- 4 oz light brown sugar
On to the music…
So, there aren’t many bands we have heard of who come from Montana. In fact, there are none. Some members of the Decemberists and the bassist for Pearl Jam come from Montana, and so does Steve Albini. But none of this music was calling us. I thought of other songs or bands or albums that included the idea of glaciers and into my head popped Laura Veirs’ album Carbon Glaciers. This makes sense because carbon is black like this beer, and glaciers.
Here is my favorite song from the album: The Cloud Room.
Come close together
Imagine the peaks
And the stormy weather
Trees fade to white
And boulders just might
Make an appearance
If the sun shines just right