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Big Sky Brew: Auld Reekee by Beehive Basin Brewing

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In the aftermath of last week’s snowpocolypse, which left Big Sky residents in ecstasy—at least those that got some record-breaking hillside action—one may feel compelled to stop by Beehive Basin Brewery to see what they have on tap, clinking glasses over good times had. This week, amongst their mainstays, is a Smoked Scotch Ale dubbed Auld Reekee.

Auld Reekee is a play on “Auld Reeky,” or “Reekie,” meaning Old Smoky, a nickname for Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Before the comforts of modern heat, the densely populated city would burn coal to keep warm resulting in a lingering, thick smog. When viewed from the countryside beyond, the city often appeared to have a halo of smoke, a spectacle lovingly illustrated by Scottish poet Allan Ramsay: “Auld Reeky. A name the country people give Edinburgh from the cloud of smoke or reek that is always impending over it.”

Fortunately, the skies here in Big Sky are bluebird, and at Beehive there is ski bib banter and curious dogs aplenty. An old edition of the Beer Bible sits propped against the glass windows that provide an aquarium’s view of the seven-barrel brew room, its pages curled from use. Patrons chat about snow conditions, asking questions such as, “you work or play today?” The answer is always positive.

Scotch ales are known for having a malty taste, hints of smoke and caramel, and Auld Reekee hits those notes in stride. The beer is woody with a hint of cherry that comes out after a few sips, but not quite as smoky as cousins and siblings. It’s a bit lighter on the malt compared to our well-known Cold Smoke Scotch Ale by Kettlehouse Brewing, and with less bite, but will still give you your money’s worth at 6.8 percent ABV.

I’m not sure what Ramsay would pen about Montana, but he’d have to find something other than air quality to lament. The closest regionally relatable metaphor for this beer short of a coal-choked city would probably be: a Forest Service cabin with mature wood fire going, say, after you’ve unpacked and are well underway with dinner (and have a handle on how to properly use the damper).

Next time you’re heading back down the mountain in the wake of the next epic snowstorm, stop by Beehive Brewing. If you’re curious to stray from your weekly Working Guys Cream Ale and divulge in something a bit warmer to help heal your battered knees, order an Auld Reekee before it’s out of rotation.

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