Harvest Moon

Illustration by Micah Rauch

“This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” Those were the first lines on the description of a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale I purchased last week. When I drink beer, I prefer Montana microbrews, but I couldn’t pass up that label — even if the beer to which it was affixed came from California.

The beer itself mostly lived up to its name, but I want to wax on about beer philosophy before I reach what my editors would call the “point” of this column. Beer snobbery can be off-putting, but I labor under the delusion that if everybody just gave Montana’s burgeoning craft brew scene a chance, Coors and Budweiser would never sell another drop in our state. Every other week, this column will discuss an aspect or two of — as some of my older and surlier male relatives would call them — barley pops.

As the warm months of summer slowly cool to the brisk nights and bright foliage of autumn, I begin this column with one of my favorite summer beers: Beltian White, from Harvest Moon Brewing.

Brewed in Belt, about 15 minutes from Great Falls, this wheat ale has a fruity nose and a light, slightly malty body. Orange peel and coriander add to its complex flavor and lend a refreshing citrusy finish.

When your friend orders a Blue Moon at the bar, this is the beer he or she should really order. With its light wheat body and citrusy tones, it’s the perfect beer for cooling off under the hot Montana sun.

This summer, I brewed a 5-gallon batch of a very similar beer, a Belgian White flavored with orange peel, coriander and honey. I used an all-barley recipe (with no wheat), but the honey makes the body a bit drier and more refreshing. After conditioning in the bottle for a few weeks, this homebrew makes a great conversation piece for summer barbecues.

If you’re a yellow-swill-drinkin’ wimp, Brent would love to convert you over a pint of Montana beer. If you disagree with him, make sure he knows by emailing letters@exponent.montana.edu.