The Dram Shop

Behind the Scenes

Why is Oktoberfest in September?

Here’s a primer on the history of Oktoberfest and it’s beer, and more importantly, the answer to the most burning question in our minds: Why the heck is Oktoberfest in September???

So back in the stone ages when I was just a young duffer, I took a year to travel around Europe with a good pal of mine. We saw a lot of Europe on that trip and were only shot at with a rifle once which was good because luck can only take you so far. Anyway, we were cruising around in the fall and had Oktoberfest marked down as something that we definitely wanted to see and drink. We wound our way through the alps of Austria and rolled into Munich on October 15th. We were somewhat surprised when we did not see the expected jubilant frolicking, dancing, and celebrating of Oktoberfest. Upon asking a friendly shop owner where we could find Oktoberfest, we were told that we were in the exact right location, but that it had ended two weeks ago. As it turned out, Oktoberfest runs from September 19th through the first Sunday of October (and this schedule varies slightly from year to year). Although we were sorely disappointed in our crack research and scheduling team, we luckily were able to find a fine establishment in which to drown our sorrows. So note to self: If you want to go to Oktoberfest in Munich, it’s better to schedule it for the end of September instead of mid-October.

Now that you’ve suffered through my sob story, here’s a bit of factual information on the subject:

What has become Oktoberfest was first celebrated from October 12th through the 17th in Munich Germany in 1810. The Cause Celeb was the marriage of  Prince Ludwig to Princess Terese. Being a friendly couple they invited all of Munich to their little shindig, and a rather good time was had by all. To put an exclamation point on the event, they held horse races on the 17th. The next fall, when everybody started to get really thirsty again, they decided to hold another celebration surrounding the horse races, and Oktoberfest was born.

Throughout the 19th century the festival took on a more carnivalesque character with the addition of a large parade, bowling alleys, swings, and of course, tree climbing. These activities were mainly fueled by delicious and nutritious beer, although occasionally somebody would stop to eat some cured meat product or a strudel.

Sadly, there have been years when Oktoberfest has not been celebrated due to pesky little wars and once in 1853 for a cholera epidemic which killed 3,000 residents of Munich. This has occurred 24 times in the 215 year run that Oktoberfest has been on. We can only assume that on these years the residents of munich found other ways to drink beer.

Speaking of beer drinking, they are somewhat rigid about it in Germany. For instance, there are only six breweries who are permitted to serve beer at Oktoberfest. These breweries must conform to ‘Reinheitsgebot’, or the German Purity Laws for brewing beer which demand that the only the four basic ingredients be used: Hops, Malted Barley, Yeast, and of course water.  They also must be located within the city limits of Munich. Here are the six:

We’ll have the Hofbräu beer on tap as well as other German, domestic, and local Oktoberfest beers!

Come celebrate with us on Saturday, September 22nd! 

Live tuba band: 4:00-6:00p.m.
Fresh baked German pretzels
German brats and Kraut from Suppertime!

Flights of all 6 Oktoberfest beers are $15.

We’re offering custom Dram Shop Steins! Buy one for $20 and get your first beer free plus any Oktoberfest beer for $3 all week long. Not only that, but if you have a stein from last year you can bring it in during Oktoberfest and get $3 beers!

Cheers!

-Zach Millar & The Dram Team

September Events: Oktoberfest, Wine Tasting, Tap Takeovers, and a Date Night!

Autumn is finally here, and as soon as this smoke clears out of our cozy little valley, everything will be back to normal! Here at The Shop we love this time of year because it means some of our favorite events are right around the corner. The month of September is chock full of fun, including a wine tasting, Oktoberfest, and great events with Reverend Nat and Grand Teton Brewing. So put our events on the calendar so you don’t miss out!!

Grand Teton Brewing Tap Takeover!
Wednesday, September 13th at 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Join us for a variety of Grand Teton beers including hard to find sours! We’ll be pouring 6 Grand Teton beers all evening and pouring flights of all 6 for $15. Brewery folks will be on hand to chat and give away some free brewery swag! Stay Tuned for beer selection!

Reverend Nat’s Cider Takeover!
Saturday, September 23rd 1:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Reverend Nat himself is coming over from Portland, OR to party with us! We will pour 6 ciders all day and have flights for $15. Come chat with Nat and learn all about his cider! Stay tuned for cider selection!

OKTOBERFEST! at The Dram Shop!
Sunday, September 24th 12:00 – 10:00 p.m.

This is probably the most fun day of the year at The Dram Shop! We’ll have 6 different Oktoberfest beers on tap all week. Sunday is the party with a live tuba band from 2-4pm, soft pretzels from Kiln Breads, and German brats from Covered Wagon food truck! Flights of 6 beers for $15. For the first time, we’re offering custom Dram Shop Steins! Buy one for $20 and get your first beer free plus any Oktoberfest beer for $3 – Stay tuned for beer selection!

Wunderbare Weine German Wine Tasting!
Wednesday, September 27th 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

In conjunction with Oktoberfest week at the shop, we’ll be featuring some of our favorite wines of Germany as we discuss the terroir & classifications of Deutschland! Small bites provided by Tagliare Delicatessen & Le Petit Outre. $18 per person. Limited Seating! Stop by the shop to reserve your seat.

Missoula Insectarium Date Night!
Thursday, September 28th, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Drop the kids off at the Insectarium for an awesome night of fun, and then cross the street with a buy one get one free coupon and enjoy a couple hours of relaxation at The Dram Shop! Can we suggest something nice from The Pearl Café? $15 per child (Kids ages 4-11 please).

September Art Gallery Show with Jim Chapman, “Montana in Pictures”
Proceeds from print sales will be donated to Montana Hunter and Anglers and The Wilderness Society!

Cheers,
The Dram Shop Team

Maibock Week Starts Saturday, May 20th!

Maibock Week May 20-27th

All of the Maibock beers we’ll have on tap this week are for German Texans. What? German Texans you ask? That’s right folks, German Texans. The basic Bock style of beer, and granddaddy to the Maibock, was popularized in the Bavarian region of Germany in the 13th century. And Bavaria is big. Bavaria is so big that it’s been referred to as ‘The Texas of Germany’ dating back to at least the 1950’s. First brewed in the town of Einbeck, Bock beers got their name as the local dialect bastardized the name of the town into Ein Bock, meaning ‘Billy Goat’ in German. That’s why you always see goats on the labels of these German bock beers.

But we digress, as usual. Bocks are traditionally a celebratory beer, and hence they have a bit higher ABV, coming in around the 7-8% range. They won’t put you on your bottom immediately, but you’ll know you’re having a good time. Maibocks in particular feature a dry, and somewhat hopped finish. They are lightly malted, yellow to golden in color, with a medium mouthfeel. Often times you’ll taste notes of spice and pepper in this thirst quenching and flavorful spring offering.

We’ll be featuring 6 different Maibock beers all week. Come try a flight of all 6 for $15!

Here’s a list of Maibocks that we’ll have on tap at the shop all week long:

Hofbräu Maibock 7.2% ABV – Munich/Germany

Sierra Nevada Old Chico Pale Bock 6.8% ABV – 40 IBU – Chico/CA

Beaverhead Bock 6.6% ABV – 25 IBU Dillon/MT

Bayern Maibock 7.6% ABV – 28 IBU MIssoula/MT

Mighty Mo Hoki’s Maibock 6.3% ABV – 30 IBU Great Falls/MT

Laughing Dog Bock at the Moon 5.5% ABV – 30 IBU Coeur D’Alene/ID

Bozeman Brewing Super Power Solo Bock 7.2% ABV – 30 IBU Bozeman/MT

– Prost!

Holiday Beer? Yes Please!

So, here we find ourselves on the brink of yet another holiday season. This time of year brings countless reasons to gather, celebrate, and if we’re lucky, imbibe some rare and heart warming beverages. This brings us to our subject of the day: Holiday, and more specifically Christmas beers. Historically, these beers owe more to the darkened solstice than they do to Christianity as celebrations featuring the imbibing of alcoholic beverages date back well before Christianity.

Who can resist celebration when there is a chance to reset our seasons against the backdrop of a snowy, dark, canvas. And, although outlawed at times, the old guy with the big white beard and extraordinarily ruddy cheeks couldn’t be a better spokesperson for Christmas cheer. He sets such a lovely example, needing a pack of reindeer to guide him from party to party on a snowy evening. It’s no wonder that popping open a growler or bottle this time year is a tradition that many of us hold dear, especially with so many special options.

If guidance from our modern brewers is any indication, we’re clearly in for some fun this time of year. The majority of Christmas beers tip the scales in terms of not only special ingredients, but also alcohol content, making them winter warmers indeed. Perhaps the most interesting about these Christmas beers, is that the only concrete thing that keeps them all herded up in a group is that they are celebratory beers for the season. The ingredients and styles vary from IPAs to Bocks to Belgians to Stouts and on and on. Some use spices. Some use fruit. Some use fruit and spices. Some folks are loath to even consider it a Christmas beer if it is not well spiced. Some just brew up a super special hop bomb. Regardless, as beer nerds, we should really just light a candle and count our lucky winter stars. These beers are big, flavorful, and come in such a variety that boredom is cast out, alone into a snow drift to think about what it’s done. There are many, many reasons to cherish this season, and we think the Christmas beer is pretty high on the list.

We’ve brought in a smattering of beers for our Holiday Beer Week. You can taste them all week at the shop, and we’ll be pouring flights if you don’t want to miss a thing.

Here are a few of the beers we’ll be pouring:

Grand Teton Brewing—Coming Home Rye Barley Wine: 10% ABV – 75 IBU

Moylan’s Brewing—Spiced Winter Lager: 6.0% ABV – 28 IBU

Brasserie Silly—Silly Noel Tripel Blonde: 9.0% ABV

Brouwerij Van Eecke—Kapittel Winter: 7.5% ABV

Iron Horse Brewing—Cozy’er Sweater Imperial Oatmeal Stout: 8.1% ABV – 35 IBU

Deschutes Brewing—Jubelale: 6.7% ABV – 65 IBU

Carter’s Brewing—The Gatherer Holiday Porter: 6.0% ABV – 30 IBU

Meadowlark Brewing—Snowflake Gingerbread Ale: 6.3% ABV – 11 IBU

Cheers!

-Team Dram

P.S. If you’re interested in special deals and free beer, email us your cell phone number ([email protected]) to receive direct texts. We promise we won’t spam you!

The Dram Shop goes to Sierra Nevada Beer Camp!

Last spring I had the pleasure of getting an invitation from Sierra Nevada Brewing to attend their  Beer Camp at the original brewery in Chico, CA. It sounded cool, but I had to think about it. Let’s see here: three days at the Sierra Nevada brewery with a small group of fellow campers learning about the company and their processes, ogling their state of the art facility, tasting rare and experimental beers, eating amazing food, designing our own beer recipe, and brewing own batch of beer with one of Sierra’s top brewers…. My schedule became instantly clear. A shocker I know. After all, Sierra Beer camp is a sort of coveted experience in the craft beer world. And to be honest, with the shop having been open less than a year, I was flattered that they asked me.

img_0764-2

The first order of business was an email conversation prior to heading to Chico, in order to get a head start on our beer recipe. We settled on the idea of doing a New Zealand inspired beer with all of the hops coming from the Pacific country. Some of these hops can be tough to get but a brewery like Sierra Nevada has large hop contracts and, well, you should see the hop storage room at the brewery. It doesn’t hurt that they are also one of the few whole hop cone only brewers in the US–meaning that there are no pelleted hops used in any Sierra beers, a fact that they will tell you is reflected in the superior hop bouquet of their beer. We also decided to use the mighty kiwifruit in a nod to our brethren from the island nation. We had a diving off point, and would sort out the details in Chico.

img_0728

Upon arriving at the brewery, I got an eery feeling that I was in Ken Grossman’s (the brewery’s Founder) version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. From the immaculate brew house and cellar, to the cutting edge green technology being used literally everywhere, to the almost gilded taproom, I got the sense that his fingerprints were on everything. And to be honest, he’s done an amazing job with his brewery.

img_0708

But anyway, back to the beer. We decided that stylistically, a lager with a grain bill including munich as a base, pilsner malt, a small amount of wheat would be a nice way to allow the mellow, sweet notes of the fruit come through, and also to keep the nelson sauvin, Wai-iti, Waimea and Wakatu hops right at the center of the flavor profile. This style would also keep the beer refreshing and quaffable. We blended 20 pounds of kiwifruit with an industrial immersion blender for the 10 barrel batch that we brewed in the pilot brew house at Sierra. One interesting fact about this brew house is that it was designed to mimic the main brew house and cellar used for all regular batches of beer but to scale. This way, pilot batches can be brewed and scaled to large batches taking away as many variables as possible.

img_0703-1

With our batch of kiwi lager safely in the fermenter it was time to turn our minds to the name of our beer. Many names were thrown out, none of which bear repeating here. Suffice it to say that after sorting through our trove of creative hail mary’s, the good folks at Sierra Nevada settled on nice, non-offensive, litigation free name: I.B.U.zing Kiwis.

img_0797-2

The good news is, we finally got a few kegs of our I.B.Uzing Kiwi on at the shop, and I can’t wait to tap one and see what our creation tastes like!

Join us this Saturday and let’s take it for a test drive!       

img_0762-2-1

     

Maibock Week starts Saturday, May 20th !

All of the Maibock beers we’ll have on tap this week are for German Texans. What? German Texans you ask? That’s right folks, German Texans. The basic Bock style of beer, and granddaddy to the Maibock, was popularized in the Bavarian region of Germany in the 13th century. And Bavaria is big. Bavaria is so big that it’s been referred to as ‘The Texas of Germany’ dating back to at least the 1950’s. First brewed in the town of Einbeck, Bock beers got their name as the local dialect bastardized the name of the town into Ein Bock, meaning ‘Billy Goat’ in German. That’s why you always see goats on the labels of these German bock beers.

But we digress, as usual. Bocks are traditionally a celebratory beer, and hence they have a bit higher ABV, coming in around the 7-8% range. They won’t put you on your bottom immediately, but you’ll know you’re having a good time. Maibocks in particular feature a dry, and somewhat hopped finish. They are lightly malted, yellow to golden in color, with a medium mouthfeel. Often times you’ll taste notes of spice and pepper in this thirst quenching and flavorful spring offering.

We’ll be featuring 6 different Maibock beers all week. Come try a flight of all 6 for $15!

Here’s a list of Maibocks that we’ll have on tap at the shop all week long:

Hofbräu Maibock 7.2% ABV – Munich/Germany

Sierra Nevada Old Chico Pale Bock 6.8% ABV – 40 IBU – Chico/CA

Beaverhead Bock 6.6% ABV – 25 IBU Dillon/MT

Bayern Maibock 7.6% ABV – 28 IBU MIssoula/MT

Mighty Mo Hoki’s Maibock 6.3% ABV – 30 IBU Great Falls/MT

Laughing Dog Bock at the Moon 5.5% ABV – 30 IBU Coeur D’Alene/ID

Bozeman Brewing Super Power Solo Bock 7.2% ABV – 30 IBU Bozeman/MT

– Prost!

By in Behind the Scenes, Events, News 1

10 Things I Learned in the First Year of Business

by Zach Millar, owner of The Dram Shop in Missoula, MT

There are no known unknowns.
Simple right? The fact is, you don’t know what you don’t know. So keep an open mind, and be ready for your perceptions to change. A lot.

You are your best (and often times only) advocate.
You better get used to getting out there and fighting for your dream. Nobody else is going to take over while you sit on the couch and watch Seinfeld reruns.

Lean on your friends.
They’ll want to help you, and you’ll need them. A lot of your network will likely be really excited about your endeavor. Enthusiasm is contagious, so put them in coach.

Be nice.
This seems obvious, but just remember, you don’t know everything. You don’t even know that you don’t know everything yet (see #1). So be nice to EVERYBODY. Chances are you’re going to need their help sometime soon (see #3). And if you do make it through the startup crucible, you’re likely going to owe them a truckload of thank you’s.

Listen to your elders.
Also, listen to your youngers. Heck, listen to anybody who is willing to take the time to give you advice. It’s really important to remember where your scope of knowledge lies. For us, it was somewhere between breakfast and lunch, and we were lucky to get a lot of great advice.

Make fear your friend.
You’re going to need to get used to your fight or flight instinct, because it’s going to follow you around. It probably is already. You’re taking risks. Sometimes really big risks, and there will be times when every sinew in your body will be telling you to split and head for Mexico. Also, Mexico can be a very useful motivational tool.

Be ready.
Running your shiny new business is a lot different than starting your new business. You’re going to have to make a lot of adjustments as you go along, and you don’t want to get caught flat footed. So try not to get too attached to the little things you’ve accomplished along the way. You probably screwed them up and are going to have to go back and redo them.

Study up.
Chances are you’re going to become an expert on a subject that to date you know nothing about. Take parking requirements for example. Not only are they are super interesting, turns out they are kind of important. You’ll be way better off if you can discover problems before they become problems. (See #1)

Keep going.
If you’re anything like us, there will be some doubts. OK, a lot of doubts. You have to learn to put them in a box and throw it off of a very tall building. You can do it. One foot in front of the next.

Success is a trip to the grocery store.
Things get busy and crazy. Really busy and really crazy. When things finally calm down enough that you can do normal, everyday activities without a sneaking suspicion that total disaster lies around every corner, you’ve arrived. You probably just won’t be sure where it is that you’ve arrived at. It doesn’t matter, you’re probably leaving first thing in the morning.

Upcoming Events:

Sunday, April 10th: Patagonia Worn Wear Event Happy Hour and Film 6-9pm

Saturday, April 16th: Cider Tasting featuring Montana CiderWorks

Sunday, April 17th: Saison Week Kick-off and Super Tuscan Wine Tasting

Thursday, April 21st: Firestone Walker Brewery Missoula Release and Tap Takeover

Saturday, April 30th Craft Beer Week Kick-off

CraftBeer.com votes The Dram Shop the “Best Beer Bar in Montana”

By in Behind the Scenes, What's on Tap 0

What is Cask-Conditioned Beer?

Ever wonder what that sideways keg and crazy tangle of beer tubes is that you see at the front of The Dram Shop every weekend? Well, you’ve come to the right place! What we’ve got here is a bonafide explainer on what is called Cask Beer.

Cask case

Our Cask Case

Cask-Conditioned beer, which is unfiltered and unpasteurized, is served from a traditional cask without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide (CO2) pressure. What is a cask you ask? A cask is simply a term for a container that has been used dating back to Babylon in 424 BC, where there is reference to ‘casks of wine’. During the Iron Age, Northern European Celts developed wooden casks held together by a band of metal. This basic design is still used today, although most casks of beer are now stainless steel.

By the 17th Century, bottled beer was commonplace, although expensive. The bottles were mostly consumed by elites who eschewed the common pubs for their rowdy publicans and tumultuous environment. For commoners however, it was off to the pub for a bit of the pint, and the beer that was drunk came right off of a cask. As beer styles became lighter and lower in alcohol, it became more of a challenge to keep them preserved in a cask. Louis Pasteur’s sterilization coupled with more modern refrigeration methods certainly helped in warmer climates, but in many cooler parts of the north, traditional cask beer remained largely unchanged.

Okay, let’s back up for a minute and go over some of the things that make cask beer unique. A cask is quite a bit different from a keg. First off, there is no downtube ensuring every last drop is used. Casks are designed to capture yeast and other large particles in the bottom as the beer is poured off. Kegged beer is filtered, fined, or centrifuged, making this action superfluous. Secondly, kegs use ‘head pressure’ provided by CO2 being pushed onto the beer to force it out of the faucet.

Cask beer is served one of two ways. If the cask is on a counter or bar top, a spigot is used to simply let gravity fill the glass. If the cask is stored below, a ‘beer engine’ is used to suction the beer up and into a waiting glass. In this instance, casks would traditionally be kept in a cellar, remaining at 55 degrees, the traditional temperature that cask beer is served at. At The Dram Shop, we keep our casks in our cask case at the front of the shop, which is chilled down to our lovely 55 degrees.

So that mostly covers the hardware part. Next, let’s talk about the beer itself. By the 1970s, the majority of draught beer was artificially carbonated, pasteurized, and filtered. That means that the beer is brewed and fermented normally. Then, when the beer is ready, it is heated to 161 degrees, run through a filter that removes all of the large particle proteins and sugars, and force carbonated with CO2 to augment any shortcomings. You end up with a clean beer that has an extended shelf life before turning sour. In order to make cask beer, you would capture beer in a cask after primary fermentation. At this point additional yeast and sugar or some kind of sweetener are added for a secondary fermentation inside the cask. Finings are added to assist in the dropping out of the yeast as well. Often times brewers add adjuncts at this point, such as hops, fruit, or other flavor enhancing ingredients. All of these additions stay in the cask, making for a cloudy appearance and often times a bigger mouth feel and more complex flavor profile.

In 1973, The ‘Campaign For Real Ale’(CAMRA) was started and a movement back towards the roots of cask beer had begun in earnest. The qualifying definition is: “beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentations in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide.”

We love serving cask-conditioned beer at the shop and tap a new cask every Friday afternoon! The casks are from local brewers at Big Sky Brewing Co. and KettleHouse Brewing Co. We get to help come up with some crazy recipes that are fun to drink!

Tapping the cask

This Friday, we will be tapping a ‘Cherry-Chocolate Moose Drool’ that ought to be pretty delicious! Come see us this weekend and we’ll have fun trying some cask-conditioned beer together!    

 

 

By in Behind the Scenes, News 0

Cafe Seating on our Sidewalk

We’re thrilled to finally have outdoor cafe seating on the sidewalk in front of The Dram Shop! The City of Missoula and Montana Department of Revenue have been working closely together to create new regulations for sidewalk seating in Missoula’s downtown area for establishments that serve alcohol. We were waiting this spring for them to complete this mission and are so excited to be the first ones through the gates! We teamed up again with McNelis Architects to design an attractive space that was simultaneously urban and comfortable. With 14 new seats surrounded by Loll Design planters chock full of Pink Grizzly flowers, we hope you’ll enjoy our new outdoor space!

Thanks to the Missoula Independent for the Happiest Hour feature!

By in Behind the Scenes 0

Taproom Dog

When I first started in the brewing industry better than a decade ago, I was hired at Big Sky Brewing Company to pour beers in their taproom. To this day I’m still not sure why they hired me. I was an out of work touring musician and had no experience at a brewery, in retail, or as a server. But, I did have a dog.

Her name was Kiska. She was as docile a Golden Retriever as you will ever meet. I mean, she was very sensitive. But, she loved people, and that made my new gig at the brewery a great fit for her. At the time, we lived in a tiny apartment on 5th Street in Missoula, about a mile and a half from the old Big Sky taproom on Hickory Street. Every morning we would walk along the river trail down to work, and Kiska would sit out in front of the brewery all day long. Every person who happened by was greeted with her same rabid enthusiasm, and it’s safe to say she put a smile on the faces of most folks. Now that I think about it, Big Sky may have hired me because of my dog.

kiskapuppy

Kiska by the Clark Fork River as a pup.

Fast forward a decade or more and a few things have changed. First off, Kiska unfortunately is no longer with us, and as of this last year, I’m no longer at Big Sky as I’m focusing my energies on starting up The Dram Shop. In the absence of Kiska, her friend and our other dog Leeroy now takes up the torch where she left off. Over the past months as I have sojourned each day to The Dram Shop on Front Street, Leeroy has faithfully joined me. We often walk home the couple of miles along Rattlesnake Creek and he loves to sniff around and wet his muzzle in the cold fresh water. He’s also taken up the tradition of keeping watch over the shop, and welcoming each person as they arrive.

A man's best friend.

A man’s best friend.

There’s something special about having a dog around. In some way it makes it all a bit more human, and I’m lucky to have him here by my side.