REVIEW: Moose Drool from Big Sky Brewing Company

Quick Characteristics
Brewery: Big Sky Brewing Co.
Location: Missoula, MT
Style: American Brown Ale
ABV: 5.1%
IBU: 26
Appearance: Deep Mahogany & Reddish-Copper
Aroma: Nuts, Toffee, & the Sweetness of Honey
Flavor: Malty Sweetness with Chocolate & Coffee Notes
Availability: Year-Round; Bottle & Can
Pairs With: Grilled Steak, Roast Beef Sandwich, Shiitake Mushrooms

If the name doesn’t pique your interest and entice you to take, at the very least, a cautious sip, then something is missing in you my friend. I have this thing about beer names; the more wacky, fun, off-the-wall they are, the more I feel the beer behind the name might be worth a try. And come on, how much more off-the-wall can you get then calling something you’re supposed to drink and enjoy Moose Drool?

So, I’m sure you have the burning need to know… why call it Moose Drool? Interestingly, the founders and owners, Neal Leathers, Bjorn Nabozney, and Brad Robinson, kind of worked backwards when it came to finding names for their beers. They asked Bjorn’s mother to paint a bunch of wildlife pictures.

For each of these, they would try to create a name for a beer. Once you know this bit of the story and have seen the label, it’s easy to see why this beer had to be called Moose Drool. There was just no way around it.

“Come… hold your cup under bearded chin, and collect excellence from wetted grin”

Moose Drool is Big Sky’s most well-known beer and definitely deserves this hallowed place in their lineup. Moose Drool was the second beer the company brewed way back in 1995 (Whistle Pig Red Ale was their first and I’m a little upset to say, I never got a chance to try it). But if I can’t try the first, I’ll be more than happy to settle for the second.

The Pour and Aroma

Moose Drool Brown Ale

It pours a deep mahogany color, but when held to the light, slanting coppery red beams illuminate the inside of the beer, like light shining through stained glass into some immense chamber.

The head was slight and disappeared quite quickly on this particular beer, but I’ve had others that raise a nice finger-width head of foam. In this case I am more prone to think it was my error (perhaps my glass wasn’t as clean as I had thought), and not an error on the part of the beer or its manufacturing. I will have to do more “research” to confirm whether or not this is the case.

The aroma is one of comfort; nuts, and toffee come through, as does the slight sweetness of honey. These all combine with the fragrance of roasted malt to form a very inviting earthy bouquet.

Mouthfeel and Taste

The body is medium and smooth, but didn’t seem quiet heavy enough to hold the flavor profile to its full gory. It just seemed a little on the thin side for a dark brown ale. To get the full effect of the many flavors looking for a turn at your taste buds, it is worthwhile to let this one sit on your tongue for a few seconds.

It lays down a palate-covering malty sweetness, reminding me of something akin to honey. Complexities of chocolate, a bit of coffee, and an overall roasty, “woodsy” perception abides as a balance to the sweetness. There is just a slight hop character at the end of the taste, but it comes through as more of an earthy character then bitter.

The balance is defiantly on the side of the malt here, but the Kent Goldings, Liberty, and Willamette hops are well placed and don’t let the sweet backbone overpower. There is a drying finish to the beer that just about begs your hand to reach for the glass and your mouth to take another deep sip.

Finishing The Impression

To my mind this brown is more complex than the old English brown ales. Like a moose at an English tea party the roasted, burnt notes of chocolate and black malts would be, at least, slightly frowned upon.

But don’t worry, the moose finds its welcomed place in both; the first half light of a winter night, with a fire close, and the first lazy flakes of snow drifting down through the high branches; or the first sighing’s of crickets on a warm summer evening.

This beer speaks comfort, warmth, companionship and where ever there’s a moose in need of friend there’ll be hand to hold his drool.

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Jeff Flowers

About Author

Jeff Flowers has been a self-described beer geek for over a decade now. When he's not chasing his daughter around, you can usually find him drinking a fresh brew and wasting too much of his time on both Google+ & Twitter.

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