Kalispell Brewing Company, Kalispell
FOOD&DRINK TAP ROOM STORY & PHOTO BY LIDO VIZZUTTIt is impossible to not smile twice when saying Two Ski Brewski.
“It’s fun to say the name,” says Cole Schneider, head brewer and owner of Kalispell Brewing Company in Kalispell. “It’s even more fun to drink the beer.”
Schneider gives naming credit to his wife, Maggie Doherty, the brewery’s beer ambassador and public relations director.
“Maggie and I both love skiing; it’s how we met and it plays a really big part in our life,” said Schneider. “We’re in love with the mountains and skiing so we try to reflect that as much as possible in our beer.”
Two Ski Brewski is as appropriate slope side as it is lake side. A sunny lager perfect for the fall, it reflects the cool, crisp and clear changes in the air with a hint of warmth after the season’s first frost.
“It’s subtly grainy, fairly well balanced, it’s dry and ever so slightly sweet,” said Schneider. “There’s just enough malt character to know that it’s not your standard American light pilsner.
“There is a hint of fruitiness. We do tend to ferment this a little bit warmer sometimes so we get the slightest hint of esters in there, but it’s very subdued,” he said. “Definitely a predominate Saaz aroma; that real sort of spicy flavor is very noticeable in there.”
Schneider uses a triple decoction method of brewing the pilsner and the brewery’s Winter at Noon Dunkel. Decoction mash is when part of the mash is removed, boiled in a separate vessel and returned to the mash in order to reach the various mash temperatures. Schneider does this three times before mashout.
“Decoction mash heralds back to late Renaissance era continental Europe. They had under-modified malts so you couldn’t just do an infusion mash and expect to extract the sugars effectively,” said Schneider.
“One of the byproducts of this (process) is melanoidins,” he said. “And that’s really the hallmark of classic German-style beers, at least a hint of melanoidins.”
Although there are ways to compensate – like using specialty malts – according to Schneider, it just doesn’t taste the same.
“It’s not something I do willy-nilly. It adds about an extra three-and-a-half hours to my day,” he said. “I truly believe it makes a superior beer.”
Kalispell Brewing Co. uses style specific glassware, so don’t be surprised when your pils comes in a flute-shaped footed pilsner glass.
“A champagne flute is thin, which helps to retain the effervescent bubbles,” said Doherty. “Same with the pilsner glass. It’s tall and narrow and opens slightly at the top to promote head retention. It really shows off the beautiful pale straw color of the beer.”