Grand Teton Brewing Company - 2009 Cellar Reserve Sheep Eater Scotch Ale
Serving Temperature:45-55° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Snifter or Pint Glass
Happy New Year! Another year gone. But it’s not gone, really, it’s been “invested” in a bunch of beers that we and our brewing buddies are aging for you. So don’t be down about getting another year older—age gracefully along with our carefully selected series of rare beers featured in the club. This month, we’ve got another beer that has been aging for over a year, and there’s always a little extra dollop of pride when we can pull these types of beers from the US. Beer and hometown pride; in some areas, that might be a dangerous thing, so, use your patriotism responsibly.
Located in the small town of Victor, Idaho, is the Grand Teton Brewing Company. We have a lot to thank these guys for, beyond just the beer being featured this month. They are innovators and trail blazers. Pour yourself a beer and let us tell you more about them.
Picture it: Wyoming, the mid-80s; images of rolling waves of wheat along the Great Plains, wild animal preserves, Yellowstone National Park, grand mountainous terrain, world class skiing. Absolutely gorgeous country and boundless resources, standing in stark contrast to an almost total lack of good beer. Necessity is the mother of invention, and this was a period of time where a few pioneering brewers decided enough was enough—it was time to get full-flavored, freshly-brewed, locally-produced beers back into the fold. Thankfully, two brothers from Wyoming stepped forth to brew and sell beer in ways not seen in that state since Prohibition. Charlie and Ernie Otto, brothers of German-Austrian descent, had long been familiar with great beers. Charlie had become a well-respected area homebrewer, with friends and family constantly asking him to brew more beer (perhaps some of you homebrewers out there know the feeling?). Of course, the pleas for his brew soon spread beyond familial lines as locals caught wind of his fine handcrafted ales. This interest in better, pre-Prohibition style beer got the brothers thinking about starting their own commercial enterprise. But because Wyoming did not issue licenses to homebrewers, Charlie had to muscle up and take on the law. Through an ambitious effort, he eventually helped get a bill passed which would allow him to start selling his beer commercially. In 1988, he was awarded Wyoming brewery license “no. 1”.
That license came just in time—the brothers had already built a small brewhouse in Wilson, Wyoming (just outside Jackson Hole)—so securing the first malt beverage manufacturers’ permit issued in the state in over 35 years made it possible for them to start selling their delicious brew (which is sort of crucial to a business model that calls for the selling of beer). In 1988, the Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company, officially the first modern microbrewery in the state of Wyoming, opened for business.
They soon began presenting their original amber “Teton Ale” to local draught establishments and for the next two years their beers were only available on tap. Seeking a wider distribution through bottling, the brothers decided to get creative. In 1989 they rediscovered a long forgotten container: a European, lidded tin-pail known as a “growler”. The term “growler” was originally used for the tin buckets used to transport beer from the tavern at which it was purchased to the home or local eatery. The Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company reintroduced it in a modern, 64-ounce glass jug version. No doubt you’re familiar with growlers as they have since become commonplace at brewpubs throughout the nation, and the brothers Otto enjoy the credit for having resurrected and recreated this novel (and environmentally-friendly**) idea.
Thus far we’ve told you how the Otto brothers contributed to the good of the nation by setting the stage for a new generation of Wyoming brewers to spring up, and by bringing back the growler. You might think these accomplishments would be enough for these guys to be contented, but they had big plans in the works still! The brothers wanted to bring Wyoming its first brewpub, but again, state law prohibited breweries to act as retailers. Not surprisingly, Charlie was undeterred; with victories in previous legal efforts already under his belt, he began three years of letter writing, phone calling and grass roots organizing to bring about the legalization of brewpubs in the Cowboy state. And wouldn’t you know it, the guy came through for his fellow citizens; in 1992, Otto Brother’s Brewing Company opened Wyoming’s first brewpub. We’ll just say it, this guy is a hero of ours—a true beer champion.
The brewpub brought a surge in popularity to the Otto Brothers’ beer line up (at that point numbering about three ales) and in 1992 they acquired a 22-ounce bottle production line. This meant higher portability and deliverability of their brews, prompting an even greater demand for their microbrews and leading the brothers to break ground for a new, high-capacity brewery at the base of the Teton Pass in Victor, Idaho in 1998. The site was chosen for its proximity to locally-grown barleys and Northwestern hops, as well as nearby Teton Glacier water.
In the Fall of 2000 the Otto Brothers’ Brewing Company was officially renamed the Grand Teton Brewing Company in order to portray a more regional and recognizable marketing approach, while still retaining their proud history and tradition of beer-brewing in the area. While they have moved to Idaho, they left Wyoming, and the region, a better place for beer and brewers. Raise a glass in toast to GTBC and their 22 years of making a difference in the world of better beer.
For more information about the brewery, brewpub or scheduled tours, call (888) 899-1656, or visit their website at www.grandtetonbrewing.com.
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