Montana Beer History and Breweries

Montana Beer History: Brewing, Craft-Brewers, Microbreweries

Bozeman’s First Craft Beer Week, May 2017, Organized by Fermentana at Bozeman’s MAP Brewery

Beginnings, History Montana Beers: First named “Thorn-Smith Brewery” and then renamed “Virginia Brewery,” Montana’s first craft brewing industry began in Virginia City, Montana Territory, in 1863–around the middle of the Civil War–by Thomas Smith, Christian Ritcher, and Henry Gilbert.

Montana Billings Brewery Beer-Bottle Car Western Heritage Center Photo

Billings Brewery Beer-Bottle Car Montana’s Western Heritage Center Photo

That same year–1863–just after the invention of the refrigerator in 1860, America produced 1,765,827 barrels of beer.

(In Bozeman, beer-making history began in 1867 by German immigrants, Jacob Spieth and Charles Krug.)

According to Michael Fox, history curator at Bozeman’s Museum of the Rockies,

“Brewers and breweries were some of the earliest community-building operations in Montana. Breweries were pretty much one of the first things built, usually before the church, in fact.”

According to Steve Losar, professor of anthropology at Salish Kootenai College, owner of Polson’s beer museum, and a man steeped in Montana beer history,

Having a brewery meant you had a stable town. It was part of the economic fabric and was tied to industries like mining and logging that produced thirsty kinfolk.

Bozeman Montana Breweries - Craft Brewers - ©Taunya Fagan Photo

©Taunya Fagan Photo – Bozeman Montana Breweries and Craft Beer Map: 406 Brewing, Bozeman Brewing, Bozeman Taproom, Bridger Brewing, Bunkhouse Brewing, MAP Brewing, Outlaw Brewing, White Dog Brewing.

More Montana Breweries Below

At that time, and to this day, Southwest Montana’s Gallatin Valley was home to some of the West’s biggest malt growers; in fact, the Valley, especially the city of Manhattan, Montana, was considered the “Egypt of the West,” emphasizing its grain-growing prowess.

According to Montana Business Resources, in 2014,

Montana Beer History: US Brewing Per Capita, Montana 3rd

United States Brewing Output Per Capita

“Montana craft breweries produced nearly 120,000 barrels of beer, consumed approximately 7,000,000 pounds of malt per year…[and] acreage planted in barley was reported to be 940,000 acres, ranking the state first in the nation.”

Today, in 2016, Montana’s number of craft breweries is 69, and together, they comprise one of Montana’s fastest growing manufacturing divisions, and Montana ranks fourth in the country for breweries per capita, ranking just behind Oregon, Colorado and, topping the list, Vermont.

Montana Beer History: Brewery Trail Map

Montana Brewery Trail Map

According to Colin Sorenson, a BBER research economist, between 2010 and 2013, craft beer production in Montana increased by 49 percent, sales increased by 55 percent and employment more than doubled from 231 to 486 jobs.

And, Montana breweries directly and indirectly employ more than 650 employees, have an annual economic impact of over $60 million gross sales, and sell their products to more than 115 million people.

Story, copyright 2016, Brett Fagan

Get your Montana beer passport here


Montana Brewers List – Guide to Some of the Best Montana Breweries (Not exhaustive)

Belgrade, Montana Beer-Makers:

Madison River Brewing
20900 I-90 Frontage
PO Box 1037
Belgrade, MT 59714
Telephone: 406-388-0322
Brewer/Owner: Howard McMurry
http://www.madisonriverbrewing.com/

Belt, Montana Brewers:

Harvest Moon Brewery
7 Fifth Street South
PO Box 510
Belt, MT 59412
Telephone: 406-277-3188
Owners: Stan Guedesse, John Ballantyne
http://www.harvestmoonbrew.com/

Big Sky, Montana Breweries:

Beehive Basin Brewery
245 Town Center Dr.
Big Sky, MT 59716
Telephone: 303-328-7338

Lone Peak Brewery
48 Market Place
PO Box 161773
Big Sky, MT 59716
Telephone: 406-995-3939
Brewer/Owner: Steve Nordahl

Bigfork, Montana Brewers

Flathead Lake Brewing
116 Holt Dr., Ste. A
Bigfork, MT 59911
Telephone: 406-837-2004
Brewer: Tim Jacoby
http://flatheadlakebrewing.com/

Flathead Lake Brewing – Woods Bay
26008 East Lake Shore Rte.
Bigfork, MT 59911
Telephone: 406-837-0353
Brewer: Tim Jacoby
http://flatheadlakebrewing.com/

Billings, Montana Brewers

Angry Hank’s
2405 1st Avenue North
Billings, MT 59101
Telephone: 406-252-3370
Owner: Tim Mohr

Canyon Creek Brewing
3060 Gabel Road
Billings, MT 59102
Brewer: Ron Kalvig
http://www.canyoncreekbrewing.com

Carter’s Brewing
2526 Montana Avenue
Billings, MT 59101
Telephone: 406-252-0663
Brewer/Owner: Michael Uhrich
http://cartersbrewing.com/

Himmelberger Brewing
3008 First Avenue North
Billings, MT 59101
Telephone: 406-252-1200
Brewer/Owner: Dave Himmelberger

Montana Brewing Company
113 North Broadway
Billings, MT 59101
Telephone: 406-252-9200
Brewer: Evan Taylor
http://www.montanabrewingcompany.com/

Uberbrew
2305 Montana Ave.
Billings, MT 59101
Telephone: 406-534-6960
Brewer: Mark Hastings

Yellowstone Valley Brewing
2123-B First Avenue North
Billings, MT 59101
Telephone: 406-245-0918
Brewer: George Moncure
http://yellowstonevalleybrew.com/

Black Eagle, Montana Brew-Makers:
Black Eagle Brewery
1602 25th Ave. NE (next to Pit Stop Tavern)
Black Eagle, MT 59414
Telephone: 406-315-3082
Brewer: Jason Lehman

Bozeman, Montana Breweries

406 Brewing Company
101 East Oak Street
Suite D
Bozeman, MT 59715
Brewer: Matt Muth

Bozeman Brewing
504 North Broadway
Bozeman, MT 59715
Telephone: 406-585-9142
Brewers: Todd Scott, Bill Hyland

Bozeman Tap Room
321 E. Mendenhall Street
Bozeman, MT 59715
Telephone: 406-577-2337

Bridger Brewing Company
1609 South 11th Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
Telephone: 406-587-2124
Owner: David Breck

Bunk House Brewery
1216 W Lincoln St
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone number (406) 577-2074

MAP Brewing Company
510 Manley
Bozeman, MT 59715

Outlaw Brewing
2876 N. 27th St.
Bozeman, MT 59715
Telephone: 406-388-9182
Brewers: Todd Hough
http://outlaw-brewing.com/

White Dog Brewing
121 W. Main St. Unit B
Bozeman, MT 59715

Butte, Montana

Quarry Brewing
124 W. Broadway Street
Butte, MT 59701
Telephone: 406-723-0245
Brewer: Chuck Schnabel
http://www.quarrybrewing.net/

Muddy Creek Brewery
2 E. Galena St.
Butte, MT 59701
Telephone: 406-299-3645
Brewer: Gregg Wigen
http://www.MuddyCreekBrewery.com

Butte Brewing Company
480 E. Galena St.
Butte, MT
Telephone: 406-494-7710
Owners: Tony and Teresa Olson
http://www.buttebrewing.com

CopperWild Brewing Company
43 E. Park St.
Butte, MT 59701
Telephone: 406-782-1700
http://www.copperwildbrewing.com

Columbia Falls, Montana

Backslope Brewing Company
1107 9th St. W. (Highway 2)
Columbia Falls, MT 59912
Brewers: Darin Fisher

Darby, Montana

Bandit Brewing Company
308 E. Tanner Rd.
Darby, MT 59829

Deer Lodge, Montana

Elk Ridge Brewing Company
3320 Main St.
Deer Lodge, MT 59722

Dillon, Montana

Beaverhead Brewing Company
218 S. Montana St.
Dillon, MT 59725
http://www.beaverheadbeer.com

Eureka, Montana

HA Brewing
2525 Grave Creek Road
Eureka, MT 59917
Telephone: 406-889-3950
Owner/Brewer: Chris Neil
http://www.homesteadales.com

Glasgow, Montana

Busted Knuckle Brewery
303 1st Ave. S.
Glasgow, MT 59230
Telephone: 406-228-2277

Great Falls, Montana

Bowser Brewing
1826 Tenth Avenue South
Great Falls, MT 59405
Telephone: 406-315-1340
Owner: Evan Bowser
Brewer: Dennis Holland
http://www.bowserbrew.com

Mighty Mo Brewing
412 Central Avenue
Great Falls, MT 59405
Telephone: 406-952-0342

The Front Brewing Company
215 3rd Street NW
Great Falls, MT 59405
Telephone: 406-727-3947
http://www.thefrontbrewing.com

Hamilton, Montana

Bitter Root Brewing
101 Marcus Street
Hamilton, MT 59840
Telephone: 406-363-7468
http://www.bitterrootbrewing.com/

Higherground Brewing Co.
518 N. First Street
Hamilton, MT 59840
Owners/Brewers: Jasper Miller, Fenn Nelson
http://www.highergroundbrewery.com

Havre, Montana

Triple Dog Brewing Co.
675 1st St. West
Havre, MT 59501

Helena, Montana

Blackfoot River Brewing
66 S. Park Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
Telephone: 406-449-3005
Brewers: Tim Chisman, Becky Molm
http://blackfootriverbrewing.com/

Lewis & Clark Brewing
1517 Dodge Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
Telephone: 406-442-5960
Brewer: Sean Tobin

Ten Mile Creek Brewery
46 N. Last Chance Gulch
Helena, MT 59601
Telephone: 406-231-0575

Kalispell, Montana

Kalispell Brewing Company
412 Main Street
Kalispell, MT 59901
Telephone: 406-270-1958
Owners: Maggie Doherty and Cole Schneider
http://kalispellbrewing.com/

Lakeside, Montana

Tamarack Brewing Company Alehouse and Grill
105 Blacktail Road #1
Lakeside, MT 59922
Telephone: 406-844-0244
Brewer: Craig Koontz
http://www.tamarackbrewing.com/

Libby, Montana

Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company
206 Mineral Ave.
Libby, MT 59923
Telephone: 406-293-2739

Livingston, Montana

Neptune’s Brewery
119 North L Street
Livingston, MT 59047
Telephone: 406-222-7837
Brewer: William Taylor

Katabatic Brewing Company
114 W. Park St.
Livingston, MT 59047
Owners: Brice Jones, LaNette Diaz
http://katabaticbrewing.blogspot.com

Lolo, Montana

Lolo Peak Brewery
6201 Brewery Way
Lolo, MT 59847
Telephone: 406-600-9688
http://www.lolopeakbrewery.com

Missoula, Montana

Bayern Brewing
1507 Montana Street
Missoula, MT 59801
Telephone: 406-721-1482
Owner: Juergen Knoeller
Brewer: Thorsten Geuer
http://www.bayernbrewery.com/

Imagine Nation Brewing
1151 W. Broadway
Missoula, MT 59801
Telephone: 406-459-8993
Owners: Robert Rivers, Fernanda Menna Barreto Krum

Big Sky Brewing
5417 Trumpeter Way
PO Box 17170
Missoula, MT 59808
Telephone: 406-549-2777
Toll-Free: 1-800-559-2774
Brewer: Matt Long

Draught Works
915 Toole Avenue
Missoula, MT 59802
Telephone: 406-541-1592
Brewers/Owners: Jeff Grant, Paul Marshall

Great Burn Brewing
2230 MacDonald Avenue
Missoula, MT 59801
Owners: Mike Howard, Diana Garrett, Greg Howard

Kettlehouse Brewery — Northside
313 North First Street West
Missoula, MT 59802
Telephone: 406-728-1660

Kettlehouse Brewing
602 Myrtle Street
Missoula, MT 59801
Telephone: 406-728-1660
Owner: Tim O’Leary

Missoula Brewing Company
Missoula, MT
Owner: Bob & Shannon Lukes

Philipsburg, Montana

Philipsburg Brewing Company
101 West Broadway
Philipsburg, MT 59858
Telephone: 406-859-2739 (BREW)
Brewer: Mike Elliot

Polson, Montana

Glacier Brewing
6 Tenth Avenue East
Polson, MT 59860
Telephone: 406-883-2595
Owner/Brewer: David Ayers
http://glacierbrewing.com/

Red Lodge, Montana

Red Lodge Ales
1445 North Broadway
PO Box 2278
Red Lodg,e MT 59068
Telephone: 406-446-4607
Brewers: Sam Hoffmann, Justin Moore

Sidney, Montana

Meadowlark Brewing Company
119 S. Central Avenue
Sidney, MT
Owner: Travis Peterson
http://meadowlarkbrewing.blogspot.com/

Stevensville, Montana

Blacksmith Brewing Company
114 West Main Street
Stevensville, MT 59870
Telephone: 406-777-0680
http://blacksmithbrewing.com/

Wildwood Brewing
4018 Highway 93 North
Stevensville, MT 59870
Telephone: 406-777-2855
Owner/Brewer: Jim Lueders
http://www.wildwoodbrewing.com

Superior, Montana

Dunluce Brewing
Superior, MT
Owner/Brewer: Adam Hauge
http://www.dunlucebrewing.com

Whitefish, Montana

Bonsai Brewing
549 Wisconsin Ave.
Whitefish, MT 59937
Owner/Brewer: Graham Hart

Great Northern Brewing
2 Central Avenue
Whitefish, MT 59937
Telephone: 406-863-1000
Brewer: Joe Barberis
http://www.greatnorthernbrewing.com/

Wibaux, Montana

Beaver Creek Brewery
104 Orgain Avenue West
PO Box 196
Wibaux, MT 59353
Telephone: 406-795-2337
Brewer: Sandon Stinnett

Wolf Point, Montana

Missouri Breaks Brewing
326 Main Street
PO Box 654
Wolf Point, MT 59201
Telephone: 406-653-1467
http://missouribreaksbrewing.com/

 

Information for this piece was gathered from these people and sources: Steve Losar, Colin B. Sorenson, Todd A. Morgan, Shannon Furniss, Gail Schontzler-Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Colin Sorenson-University of Montana, Montana Beer Finders, beerhistory.com, Billings Gazette, and others.