The bar tender at the Trail’s End on Main street stood behind the array of microbrew taps like gambler appraising a block of old-school one-armed bandit slot machines looking for a winner. His first pull was a peach wheat beer from Meadowlark Brewery who proudly brews in Sidney. It won.
The light, peach forward flavor of the beer was a great start for our exploration of microbrews in Miles City. Trails Inn was our starting point largely because we knew they have an impressive selection on tap and we knew to make it through the evening we were going to need some help from their chicken bacon ranch flat bread that are a tasty and affordable way to prepare for the task of beer consumption.
The next pull was a Campfire Brown Ale from Cross Country Brewing in Glendive. It’s smokey flavor soothed the tastebuds in a manner that starkly contrasted the peach wheat and illustrated the challenge of comparing craft beers. If the first two beers we tried were like apples and oranges, the Lil’ Mo IPA from Beaver Creek Brewery in Wibaux was a pineapple turnover.
The hops in the Lil Mo brought a ton of sweetness without the addition of fruit or flavors to the process. Despite being loaded with flavor, it was light and drinkable. A fine piece of craftsmanship and the great tone for us to move on to the next stop of our tour.
We discussed the beers we had sampled and the development of beer culture in Miles City on our short walk to Tilt Wurks Brewery. None of us where beer experts except for the fact that we have all consumed thousands of gallons of beer in our lifetime. We concluded that the allure of beer was the incredible variety of styles and flavors that result in a very personal experience for each drinker.
At Tilt Wurks we delighted in a wide variety of beers brewed in Miles City. My palette was drawn to the Sour, Tart and Funky section of their beer tasting menu. I ordered a wild strawberry sour to test the ability of their brew staff.
I cringed as a prepared for the sour onslaught to my taste buds with the first sip but found enough sweetness to avoid the pucker factor I generally associated with sour brews. The result was a beer that was sour, but enjoyable. One of the few sour beers I have ever tasted that I might consider drinking more than one of in a sitting.
The fun pinball theme and food menu that includes amazing pretzels from local bakery and coffee house Main Street Grind alongside scotch eggs and poutine gave Tilt Wurks a really unique feel among the breweries that I have visited. The Wedge Head White IPA and Slingshot Vanilla Stout pleased everyone in our group. For dessert we had the Bang Back Blueberry which comes complete with a ton of blueberry flavor in the brew itself and some floating blueberries to chew on for good measure. It is my favorite Tilt Wurks beer and worth paying them a visit for.
The first stumbles in our step were detected on our trip from Tilt Wurks back to Main Street to check out the iconic Montana Bar. We weren’t confident that we were going to enhance our beer tour experience there until we met Blake. She was a revelation and an asset to the beer drinkers of Miles City that should be treasured.
Upon hearing our mission she immediately went to the cooler and pulled out a can of Fireweed Blonde from Alaskan Brewing Company for us to sample. It was unique and I usually prefer blondes, but it was my least favorite beer of the night. I returned for a second helping of beer from Wibaux and ordered a Beaver Creek Pale Ale from Beaver Creek Brewery. It brought a rich, malty flavor that was unlike anything else we had tasted that night and further increased our opinion that there is no way to accurately compare beers. Tasting and loving beer is an intensely personal experience and that is what makes it so great.
We cut our experience short at this point to ensure that we would get home safely and I would be able to remember enough details to complete this article. We missed out on stops like the Cellar and the Bucking Horse Saloon. We skipped our usual haunt, The Yellowstone Tavern, on this trip to experience something new. We lamented the fact that the new tasting room for Otium Brewery won’t open until mid-December and we committed to planning another beer crawl to soak in the experiences we missed.
Thanks to all of the bartenders and fellow beer drinkers that contributed to our night on the town and this story. I hope that you get to go out and explore the craft beer scene in Miles City. It is vibrant, healthy and worth a visit. Cheers.