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Celebrate the first day of spring with the ‘Last Best Pale Ale’

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News from Matt Leow, Director of Montana Brewers Association

MISSOULA — Breweries across Montana are releasing their own unique take on the same beer, the Last Best Pale Ale. Montana brewers, hops growers and maltsters have teamed up to produce this collaboration beer. It’s a Montana craft beer made entirely with Montana grown hops and malt to celebrate Montana’s tastiest industry while raising money for both the brewers’ state guild and scholarships for students in MSU’s Barley Breeding Program.

The Last Best Pale Ale was conceived this winter as a way to bring brewers together doing what they do best – brewing great beer.

“It has been a long, hard 12 months for all of us. One of the most fun parts of our jobs is getting together at brewfests and different industry events to have a good time with other brewers and craft beer lovers. We miss that. This project is a really cool way to do something collaboratively that is fun for us and the public. I think we can all agree that we need things like that right now,” said Ethan Kohoutek, co-owner of Ten Mile Creek Brewing and president of the MBA.

The Last Best Pale Ale is a collaboration of MBA member breweries, but the recipe leaves a lot of room for interpretation and creativity. Brewers are using “C” hops from Crooked Yard Hops, Hopzoil from Glacier Hops Ranch, and pale and crystal malts provided by Farm Power Malt, Gallatin Valley Malt, Malteurop and Montana Craft Malt. Beyond those simple guidelines, brewers are free to put their own unique spin on it.

Golden Triangle Brew Co. in Ft. Benton is using a new malt barley variety from the MSU barley breeding program for their take on the Last Best Pale Ale. In fact, Golden Triangle owner Brandon Roberts went directly to the farm to pick up the new Buzz malt barley.

“Early one morning, we hooked the auger up to the bin and hauled approximately 60 bushels of this barley to Ryan Pfiefle with Farm Power Malt, and he custom malted it for us,” said Roberts. “Our Last Best Pale Ale will be a SMaSH (single malt and single hops) with our custom Buzz barley.”

The MBA is pleased by the involvement of local suppliers, making the Last Best Pale Ale a true Montana brewing collaboration. This beer brings together farmers, maltsters, hop growers and brewers to produce a uniquely Montana beer.

“This is exactly the kind of collaboration and partnership that speaks to us, because it perfectly aligns with our mission to celebrate both Montana agriculture and the craft brewing community here,” said Jen O’Brien, president and founder of Montana Craft Malt. “We’re always excited about an opportunity to collaborate with our Montana growers, brewers, and fellow Montana malt producers, because this growing and incredibly important community is one that we actively want to help continue to build in any way that we can.”

Nineteen Montana breweries have brewed the Last Best Pale Ale in preparation for the March 20 release. The beer can be found at participating breweries for pint, growler and crowler sales. A portion of each sale will go to support the MBA as well as scholarships for the MSU Barley Breeding Program.

“Spring is a time of renewal and hope, so we thought the first day of spring, especially given the challenges of the past year, would be a fitting time to put this special release on tap,” said Matt Leow, executive director of the Montana Brewers Association. “Please get out and support your local breweries while sampling brewers’ various takes on the Last Best Pale Ale.”

 Find the Last Best Pale Ale on or before March 24 at the following local breweries, unless otherwise indicated:  In Missoula: Draught Works; GILD; Highlander Beer (coming soon); KettleHouse Brewing (Missoula);  In Ronan: Ronan Cooperative Brewery (coming soon).

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