Tag Archives: Kettlehouse Brewery

50 Breweries in 9 Months – Our Favorites

Sharon sampling beer

the author samping beer

Well we have fallen behind in writing about breweries, but we have been visiting more than ever since we entered Colorado.  This week we hit the milestone of visiting 50 different breweries in the past 9 months on this trip.  Here are our picks for the top 3 in several categories.  We’d love to hear your opinion and recommendations for the best breweries to visit in the United States and Canada.  We are headed to Arizona and California next, so we are particularly interested in breweries in those states.


Best Brewpub (good food and good beer)

  1. Mad Fox Brewery, Falls Church, VA – Order a bacon cheeseburger or duck pizza, they make their own mustard, bake their own bread, and cure their own meats
  2. Fort Collins, Fort Collins, CO – The bacon wrapped pretzel is an amazing starter!  Fort Collins hosts beer and food pairing dinners which are worth the splurge.
  3. Trinity Brewing, Colorado Springs, CO – This is the only sampler I’ve ever had that comes with cheese to eat in between each brew.  They are serious about their food here and even grow their own herbs to flavor with.
Sampler at Trinity Brewing

Sampler at Trinity Brewing

Best Happy Hour

  1. Barrio Brewery, Tucson, AZ – $3 pints with at least 10 beers on tap and great affordable food, how can you ask for more?
  2. Left Hand, Longmont, CO – Left Hand is clearly a locals hangout and they are always hosting an event for the community, everything from art openings to concerts to political information nights.
  3. Yazoo Brewery, Nashville, TN – Unfortunately the taproom is only open on weekends, they are packed on Saturdays and deservedly so with great specials and a fun vibe.
Yazoo Tasting Room

Yazoo Tasting Room

  1. Odell, Fort Collins, CO – Odell is special because of its pilot system.  While you may be familiar with the 90 Shilling or Cutthroat Porter I can guarantee you have not heard of half of the brew line up available at the tasting room.  They are always experimenting with new styles and you can design your own flight to suit your interests.  Be aware, they close early so get there for happy hour!
  2. Great Divide, Denver, CO – Best advice for this tasting room is to get a cab or come on your bike.  Great Divide specializes in high gravity beers that are seriously drinkable and a basic sampler will put you down for the count (especially if you come in from sea level and are new to mile high elevation).
  3. Starr Hill, Charlottesville, VA – Dress for the weather – this tasting room is right next to their bottling line and it is not insulated.  However, the beer and good company will keep you warm.  This is a really fun place to hang out with a great staff.
flight at Great Divide Brewery

flight at Great Divide Brewery

Most Scenic

  1. Blue Mountain Brewery and Restaurant, Afton, VA – Blue Mountain has just expanded an opened up an event space that is available for weddings.  It is that pretty.  Come in the fall for beautiful color, tasty pizza and delicious beers like the Dark and Evil.
  2. Jasper Brewery, Jasper, Alberta – Jasper and Banff Ave Breweries are owned by the same guy and are really unique that they are actually within National Parks.  As such, they can not distribute their beer, so you will have to stop in during a vacation to the Canadian Rockies.  I know you needed another excuse to go see one of the most beautiful places in North America.  Highly recommend the porter.
  3. Wild Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse, Nederland, CO – Located along the famous Peak to Peak highway in Colorado (south of Rocky Mountain National Park), this is a perfect lunch stop.  The smoked meats are excellent and the beer is great too.  I also particularly love their logo.
blue mountain brewery

Rows of hops on the front lawn of Blue Mountain Brewery with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge mountains

Best Spot for a Growler Fill

  1. Kettlehouse Brewery, Missoula, MT – Kettlehouse has a lane at the bar designated for growler fills.  They also are the only brewery we’ve been to that sold Nalgene growlers made to withstand a river trip.  In addition to growlers they fill party pigs and kegs.
  2. Fort Collins Brewery, Fort Collins, CO – Fort Collins is a small young brewery, but they have a nifty piece of equipment that makes them stand out for brewery fills.  This automated filling machine is supposed to keep the beer fresher.
  3. Mad Fox, Falls Church, VA – Mad Fox is a fun place to bring your growler because they take a picture and often tweet those pictures on their twitter account, @MadFoxBrewing
growler machine

growler machine

Top 3 Brewery Tours

  1. New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO – New Belgium is the ultimate in brewery tours.  They have a 90 minutes tour that requires reservations and includes 5 tasting samples.  The entire brewery route is designed for tours with art and restrooms along the way!
  2. Yeungling Brewery, Pottsville, PA – Anyone that is interested in American craft beer needs to take a trip to Pottsville.  Yeungling is oldest brewery in the United States and the tour takes you through history, seeing how Yeungling survived prohibition and how they have remained a family business and an institution in Pennsylvania.
  3. Franconia Brewery, McKinney, TX – If you’ve got questions about the science behind brewing, I encourage you to take a trip to McKinney and meet Dennis Wehrmann.  He is the most knowledgeable brewmaster that we have met and he gives the tours himself on Saturdays.
tour at New Belgium

tour at New Belgium

Top 3 Towns for Breweries

  1. Fort Collins, Colorado – With 7 breweries in a town of 144,000, this is a city that requires more than one day to explore.  Luckily, Fort Collins is also very bikeable, they even have a bicycle library that allows you to check out a bike and return it with a basic deposit.
  2. Flagstaff, Arizona – Flag (as locals refer to it) is really just a large town and it is home to 5 breweries.  The newest addition, Mother Road is home to the Alpine Pedaler, a human powered bicycle tram that is available for rent for brewery crawls (particularly easy in Flag since all of the breweries are downtown near each other).
  3. Durango, Colorado – Durango has fewer breweries, only 4, but they have a longer history of brewing.  Durango is also small enough that you can get around to all of the breweries  without too much trouble.
Mother Road Brewing Company

Mother Road just opened in Flagstaff, bringing the total number of breweries to 5 in a town of 60,000

Brewery Reviews: northern U.S.

Not sure how this has happened but I am very far behind on our brewery posts…. Oh yea it probably had something to do with spending a bunch of time mostly out of cell phone range with no internet connection. With so much catching up to do this post is huge and there will be another one about Canadian breweries we visited.

Roy Pitz, Chambersburg, PA

Roy Pitz Tasting Room

A small operation you have probably never heard of. For those of you who are in the northern Virginia area and on the way to Raystown Lake to mountain bike, stop in, it’s well worth the stop. We had the pleasure of trying everything they had on hand and getting our growler filled. Highlights are Ludwigs Revenge, Daddy Fat Sacks, Best Blonde and, Chicken Legs. Ludwigs Revenge is a dark German lager with German sourced ingredients. It has got a ton of flavor for a lager and flavor-wise is more like an ale. It’s a tasty and unique creation. I think this is what we picked for our growler fill. Daddy Fat Sacks is an IPA – it’s a strong IPA, but in my book its not over the top hoppy. It’s aged with big sacks of hops aged in for this part of the process. I liked it a lot. Best Blonde is a light and crisp beer, good for a very hot day, it is a very good blonde ale but blonde ales are not a personal favorite. Chicken Legs is a good old fashion stout, a classic really, flavorful like a stout should be with out much bitterness at all.  One unique seasonal beer that Roy Pitz is known for is the Lovitz Watermelon Lager, flavored with fresh watermelon.  While I dislike fruit in beer as a general rule, this one wasn’t bad and could be refreshing on a hot summer day.

Birreria, New York, NY

Birreria sign

This one is our most recent visit from just last week while we were visiting Sharon’s sister, Nora in New York City. It’s very New York, trendy with higher than average prices, but don’t let this deter you. The roof top patio is a nice escape from the filthy crowded streets below you. They brew four beers at a time and are connected with Dogfish Head, as the President of DH is helping the brewer here get going. I sampled two of the three beers available while were there, Wanda and Lisa. I had a full pint of Wanda which is a chestnut ale. Its a rich chestnut ale that is sweet and nutty. The Lisa has a big head and lots of carbonation. It reminded me of a light Belgian beer.

Thanks to Sharon’s mom for the tip to check this place out.  She read about it in this recent Washington Post article.

birreria seating

Marquette Harbor Brewery, Marquette, MI

brewery sign with view of Lake Superior

brewery sign with view of Lake Superior

Yes those are blueberries in the bottom of that beer (see picture of sampler below). I am normally not a fan of fruit in beer but this tried hard to win me over. Its also noteworthy that the fruit is added to the beer after its poured kind of like a slice of orange or lemon on a wheat beer. The result is much more subtle.

Truthfully, neither Sharon nor I remember much more about the beer here.  The brewery is part of a restaurant overlooking Lake Superior which is probably its most noteworthy feature.  A nice place to sample some local beers and relax with a great view.

Sampler at Marquette Harbor Brewery, Marquette, MI

Kettlehouse Brewery: Missoula, MT

Kettlehouse Tasting Room

The Cold Smoke Scotch ale is the stand out here, no wonder why it has won several awards. It’s hard to say what I really like about it, but I can say for sure I wanted more of it. It is one of those beers you could just drink all day long and not want anything else. In true Missoula fashion they had plastic Nalgene growlers for river trips available. They also have cool hand made growlers that are works of art by local potters. Another oddity is their Ginseng Pale Ale. Missoula is home to the well known mycology expert and proponent of sustainable forest products, Larry Evans. We had read an Outdoor magazine article on our way to Missoula and were surprised to see him mentioned on the beer description.  Larry literally had tons of ginseng sitting around so its only natural that someone started brewing with it. This stuff apparently has a cult following which I attribute to the ginseng buzz, since it was not my favorite. I also sampled one of their Old Bong Water beers with hemp in it.  It had a nutty flavor.

Beer list at Kettlehouse

Northern Ales Brewery, Kettle Falls, Washington

northern ales sampler

the sampler at Northern Ales

Sharon here, I am going to step in and review the last brewery, Northern Ales, which was a favorite of mine.  Northern Ales reminds me strongly of a small town Pennsylvania brewery even though it is days of driving away, in the small eastern Washington town of Kettle Falls.

Smelters Ash Imperial stout and a brat

Smelters Ash Imperial stout and a brat

It’s industrial looking, nothing fancy.  You can order from a small menu featuring sausages.  There are peanut shells all over the floor.  The delivery entrance stays open, so you have fresh air as you eat and drink and a view of the back alley.  And the beer tastes great.  They have a good variety here, with 10 brews on the sampler ranging from a classic lager to a dark imperial stout.  They seemed to specialize in the darker ales, with 2 smoked porters to try.  We both liked the Smoked North Porter and the Smelter’s Ash Imperial Stout.  Jay enjoyed the Honey Basil Ale, but I was weirded out by basil in beer.  Another good choice was the Highlander Scotch Ale, which was just a classic smooth scotch.

Oh, and the bratwurst is AWESOME.