If you take some apples, a little yeast, and some honey, then smash it all together, and let it sit for a bit, you will have hard apple cider. Sounds easy enough, right? Well actually, as you might have guessed, it is a bit more complicated than that. Quite a bit more complicated when you get right down to it. History tells us that the cider apple seed was introduced to America by European immigrants. Hard cider being economical and relatively simple to make, became very popular. At one time, most everyone had an apple orchard and had their own version of the lovely drink. With the introduction of German-style beers that had a lesser fermentation period than cider, and eventually prohibition, ciders lost some popularity with the masses. With the increase in microbreweries in the last ten years, hard apple cider has found itself back on demand. It follows then that Sam Hoffmann would be the one to bring cider to Billings.
Hoffmann, the owner of Red Lodge Ales, has done all of the work for us by opening Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill. All there is now is for us to sample all of the juicy varieties that he has to offer! Located in what used to be the United Glass warehouse, “Last Chance” has reincarnated this industrial building into what is now an inviting place to experience the warm cuisine, welcoming and knowledgeable people and Montana brewed beers and ciders from all over. The integrity of the building and its industrial feel has been preserved in a way that makes one feel like they might be somewhere other than our little Montana city. The noticeable focal point of the venue, at least visually, is the fireplace. With its mossy green subway tile exterior and inviting nature, one cannot help but be drawn to the hearth.
Manager Tanner Vinecke stresses the importance to all of the people who have been creatively involved with Last Chance Pub that there always be variety in all that is offered. Chef Jason Corbridge infuses his knowledge of cuisine with traditional European fare along with fresh ideas daily creating a menu that is always exciting and interesting to the local gastronome. The menu is updated with different dishes quite frequently. Alongside some things that have fast become staples on his menu, Jason includes items that are limited-time-only, which will change with the availability of ingredients or the whimsy of the Chef. With the location of the Pub being Downtown Billings, accommodating the people who work in the area was a consideration of the Chef and Tanner in planning right from the beginning. Everything on the menu is available in a timely fashion which serves to cater to those with limited lunch time. Continuity of an inviting atmosphere, exciting menu items to choose from and the importance of consistently great service are goals of the staff and management.
Red Lodge Ales’ year round brews will be consistently available on tap at the pub as well as two rotating local draft beers. Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; Last Chance has private rooms available and a community table in the main seating area for those who would choose to mingle. The idea of the community table seems to be the soul of the place itself, encouraging community and the spirit of the traditional pub.