Monday, July 26, 2010

Tighten my Belt

I could go on for eons regarding the remoteness of northern Montana, but I'll keep this as focused as possible. So there I was, in Great Falls, Montana visiting my wife in the middle of a four week business trip. Depending on the resolution of your computer monitor, you couldn't zoom in far enough to get Great Falls to fill up your screen. It's an understatement to say there's not a lot going on in Great Falls. I've never seen roads go so straight for so long. I grew up in upstate New York, an hour north of the big city, and I got into enough trouble since there was 'nothing to do' in Poughkeepsie. I shudder to think what kind of trouble the kids get into up here.

So came Monday of my trip, and my wife had to work. I had to find something to do aside from staring at the ceiling of the hotel room, or going to the nearest Barnes & Noble to read books again. Naturally I opened up google maps and typed in "brewery" and to my surprise one popped up. About 25 minutes outside of town.

25 minutes... outside of town? The town I've already described as the mecca of nothingness? That's right. So I hopped into my rental and drove out to Belt, Montana.

 And there's Belt. Wait, can't see it?
Ooooh there it is.

Arriving at the corner of no and where, I throw it into park, snap a picture and start walking towards the Harvest Moon Brewing Company. The website had no hours of operation, so I was a little worried about getting there a little too early (11:45 am). I heard some cussing coming from the back of the brew house, so I figured there'd be someone around to pull a tap handle.

I sat down and began talking to a real nice guy, Stan (who I later found out was the owner) about all his beers, and I got a full tour of what was on tap. Now, I don't want to sound like some arrogant, self absorbed city slicker from Orlando. But I had my reservations entering the town with a population pushing 600 people. Where I grew up, I had 550 in my graduating high school class. But I was delightfully surprised on how good these beers were. I might even verge on to say that the Harvest Moon Brewing Company is the best micro brewery I've been to.

I started with the pigs ass porter, which appeared to be the most advertised beer. It was no doubt a decent porter. The beer was very well balanced, not too hoppy and not too malty. However the beers to follow were out of this world. I had the Beltian White Ale, which smelled and tasted with coriander, a unique, and might I say delicious flavor that I havent experienced before. I also had the Great Falls Select which was one of the most amazing and simple beers I have ever had. Most (over 90%) of the beer is made from your standard 2 row grain, the secret lying in the fact that the grain is grown and malted just up the street in Montana. This was some of the best tasting and flavorful 2 row malted grain I've ever tasted, and it definitely came through in the beer. If I can get this stuff down in Florida, I'd make a fortune. Stan the man finished me off with his Hazlenut Brown Ale which would be perfect for right around the holidays. Almost more a desert than a beer, it tasted like your favorite hazlenut coffee creamer. Just not coffee creamer, beer.

For 20 bucks I was able to get a pint, sample 3 other beers, and grab myself a t-shirt. So the visit was cheap as all-get-out. But I have a feeling that I'm going to be remembering this brewery for a long time, as from here on out I will be noticing the freshness of ingredients and I will always be comparing to this middle-of-nowhere brewery in Belt, MT. Thanks to you Stan, for the beer and the 3 hours of conversation that came with it.


  1. Nice post! Wish we could tour all these brewery's together. We need a new label!

  2. I grew up in Belt and was/am good buddies with Stan. Once he started bottling the Beltian White a few years ago he had to drop a couple of his other fine selections. One of the those (Montana Amber) was my favorite. Now that was a beer that put all ambers to shame. He does brew a Charlie Russell Red and when I am in the area will wet my whistle with the red...but it's no Montana Amber. Come on up the MA again for an old buddy.

    Terry Anderson
    Campbell, CA