by Matt Pritchard
author of GrizzlyGrowler.com
Montana breweries and taprooms are meeting places for people of all walks of life. Stroll into any one of the more than 30 in the state and you’re sure to find world-class beer with a friendly atmosphere. From Wibaux’s Beaver Creek Brewery in the plains, to Madison River Brewing Co. in Belgrade, to Whitefish’s Great Northern Brewing Co., Montana ranks as one of the top states in breweries per capita. All those breweries produce more than 3.2 million gallons of some of the best handcrafted beer in the U.S., up 18 percent from a year ago.
That’s no small feat. The Treasure State’s craft beer industry uses more than 5 million pounds of malted grain — with about half of it made in Montana — it creates beers using locally grown hops and generates more than $25 million in sales each year.
As the taste for craft beer grows, so does the quality and innovation. Award-winning styles, from doppelbock to India pale ale to gluten-free varieties, can be tasted in taprooms large and small in picturesque settings. Bottles and cans can be had next to campfires, on the river and in the mountains.
Breweries continue to pop up around the state and existing ones continue to grow. In Missoula, Big Sky Brewing Co. is selling more beer than ever before and is one of the 50 biggest craft breweries in the country, Kettlehouse Brewing Co. — “The Little Brewery That Cans” – has two locations, one that churns out 16-ounce pounders, and Bayern Brewing Co. bottles some of the best German-style beers in the West. In the past few years, towns large and small all over the state have welcomed new breweries into their communities. If it wasn’t already, Montana now truly is a beer lover’s paradise.
Craft beer is deeply personal and intensely social. It’s to be enjoyed, celebrated, shared and explored. Beer is made with hard work and dedication, principles this state lives by. So get out there and taste Montana, the possibilities are as big as our sky.