No one at the Kettlehouse can say exactly when Brick and Mortar Porter will debut–perhaps sometime in the next week, with luck. When it does, the new brew will be a Missoula taproom first: a beer unfettered by an alcohol limit of 8.75 percent.
"When we heard it was a go, we got really excited," says head brewer Paul Roys, referring to House Bill 400, which went into effect Oct. 1. "It opens up a whole new area to have fun and experiment. Not that every beer has to be a strong beer."
HB 400 makes it legal for microbreweries to offer beer with an alcohol content as high as 14 percent. While Roys couldn't pinpoint a percentage for the new porter, he assured it would have more kick than Cold Smoke, the scotch ale that currently packs 6.5 percent.
Numerous local breweries plan to take full advantage of the new law. Big Sky Brewing released 60 cases of a 10-percent cherry ale, dubbed Big Sky Kriek Ale, late last week. Head brewer Matt Long says the upcoming Ivan the Terrible imperial stout—also 10 percent—will hit Missoula no later than Nov. 15. Long is already planning more recipes for February.
Michael Howard, head brewer at Blacksmith Brewing in Stevensville, will roll out a 12-percent barley wine Oct. 24 to celebrate the brewery's first anniversary. Down in Hamilton, Jake Talbot is eager to tap the first keg of Collaboration Porter, which checks in at 9 percent. Talbot says they'll chase the porter with an imperial IPA called the Power of Ten later this month.
"You can go to the corner bar and drink as much whiskey as you want," Talbot says, "so you might as well be able to step into your local pub and have a strong brew, right?"
Back at the Kettlehouse, Roys says he expects to "cut loose a little bit" with recipes in coming months. But the brewery is keeping the celebration over stronger beers "super low-key," he says.
"Kind of like the opening of [the Northside] brewery," he says, "we'll just phase it in."