The Growing Economic Impact of Craft Brewing in Montana

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This report was produced and authored by Colin Sorenson, research economist at the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, with the support of the Montana Brewers Association (MBA). The BBER would like to thank MBA Executive Director Tony Herbert and the MBA board members for providing helpful information as we developed and carried out the study plan and for their assistance in the data collection phase. Any errors and omissions are, of course, our own.


  • Acknowledgements………………………………………………………1
  • Executive Summary…………………………………………………….. 3

1. Policy Analysis with the REMI Model…………………………………….. 5

2. Survey Findings……………………………………………………………………… 8

3. The Economic Impact of Craft Brewing ……………………………… 11

  • Impacts Summary…………………………………………………….. 11
  • Employment Impacts ………………………………………………. 12
  • Gross Sales Impacts ………………………………………………… 13
  •  Compensation Impacts……………………………………………. 14
  •  Population Impacts …………………………………………………. 14
  •  State Revenue Impacts …………………………………………… 15

4. Summary and Conclusion ………………………………………………….. 16

5. References ………………………………………………………………………….. 17

Executive Summary

This is a study of the economic contribution of Montana craft brewing to Montana’s economy. The first study of this nature on the brewing industry was conducted in 2012, based on operating conditions in 2010 and 2011. The current study builds on that work by investigating the trends during 2012 and 2013 and estimating the current economic contribution of the industry. There were 40 breweries operating in the state by the end of 2013, with another 11 breweries in planning. This ranks Montana third in the nation in breweries per 100,000 adults over age 21, according to the Brewers Association.

The survey results from this study indicate rapid growth in Montana’s brewing sector. From 2010 to 2013, Montana craft beer production increased by 49 percent, while sales increased by 55 percent and expenditures (vendor purchases) were up by 44 percent. The portion of brewery purchases made in Montana increased more than out-of-state expenditures, going from 39 percent to 49 percent of total expenditures. Montana brewery employment more than doubled from 231 to 486 jobs, and compensation increased 84 percent during the period.

These direct jobs and income flows from Montana’s 41 breweries contribute to growth throughout the Montana economy. This study found that because of Montana craft brewing, the state’s economy is larger, more prosperous, and more populous. The operations of brewers result in a number of economic benefits in the state. Specifically, we find the following additional economic benefits due to brewer operations:

  • 673 additional permanent, year-round jobs exist in the Montana economy;
  • more than $18 million in income is received by Montana households;
  • sales from businesses and organizations based in Montana are $60 million higher, and
  • tax and non-tax revenues, not including property taxes, are more than $4 million higher.

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While employment impacts are concentrated in the manufacturing sector – which includes brewing – several other sectors are also supported by the activities of breweries, including construction, state and local government, retail trade, and other private sector industries. The spending of workers employed by breweries and vendor purchases of breweries are the drivers that support additional jobs outside of the manufacturing sector.

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The Bureau of Business and Economic Research was commissioned by the Montana Brewers Association to conduct a study on the economic contribution of craft brewing in the state. This project entailed: (i) working with the MBA to gather information on sales, employment, and employee compensation, as well as other operational information for calendar years 2012 and 2013, (ii) using the policy analysis model (REMI) to present an alternative projection of the state economy in which the craft brewing industry’s contributions are absent, and (iii) comparing this projection with the baseline projection to estimate the ultimate impact of the industry. The details of this study are included in this report.

1. Policy Analysis with the REMI Model

Economic impacts occur as events or activities create new expenditures. New spending that is over and above existing expenditures – and does not simply displace spending elsewhere in the region – not only adds to economic activity, but also induces further spending as the recipients of wages, sales, and tax revenues spend a portion of their income in the local economy. Changes in the path of investment, migration, and prices and wages can occur due to new spending as well.

In order to quantify the economic contribution of Montana’s craft brewers, this research was designed to answer the question, “What do the activities of craft brewers contribute to the Montana economy?” To begin the analysis, it was necessary to obtain accurate data on the income flows that the industry itself produces. A brief online survey was administered to brewers to quantify the sales, employment, and compensation (including benefits) directly attributable to Montana breweries.

The basic tool used in this study to assess the economic contribution of Montana breweries is an economic model, calibrated to represent the interactions in the Montana economy, leased from Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI). The REMI model is one of the best known and most respected analytical tools in the policy analysis arena and has been used for numerous previous studies and peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals. It is a state-of-the-art econometric forecasting model that incorporates dynamic feedbacks between economic and demographic variables. The REMI model forecasts employment, income, expenditures, and populations for counties and regions based on a model containing over 100 stochastic and dynamic relationships as well as a number of identities. More information on of the underlying approach, design and operation of the model can be found in Treyz (1980 and 1993) and Treyz et al. (1991).

The model used in this study groups the state economy into five regions: Northwest, Southwest, North Central, South Central, and Eastern. It explicitly recognizes trade flows that exist between these regions, as well as between the regions and the rest of the world. Statewide impacts reported here represent the totals for the five regions.

Figure 1 is a graphical depiction of the research design and model used to derive the results of this study. First, a baseline for the economy including the operations of brewers is produced using the model. The model is then used again, with identical inputs – except that in this alternative scenario, the activity associated with brewers is removed from the economy. Thus, the operations of brewers are an economic stimulus that has produced a more robust state economy. This reflects the addition of the production, employment, and expenditures associated with these brewers, and also how the rest of the economy reacts to those changes. The difference between the baseline and alternative scenarios of the economy represents the economic impact of Montana’s craft brewers.

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The model utilizes historical data on production, prices, trade flows, migration, and technological change to calibrate the relationship between five basic blocks of the regional economy as depicted in Figure 2: (1) output (gross sales), (2) labor and capital demand, (3) population and labor force, (4) wages, prices, & production costs, and (5) market shares. The changes in production, labor demand and intermediate demand caused by the operations of Montana craft brewers causes these blocks of the economy to react and adjust to a new equilibrium. As described above, the difference between the baseline and the alternate scenario is the ultimate impact of brewer activities.

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The essential philosophy of the model is that regions throughout the country compete for investment, jobs, and people. When events occur in a region, they set off a series of economic events that cause financial flows toward better investment and production opportunities, followed by a flow of workers and households toward employment opportunities and higher wages. The model embodies an 82-sector input-output matrix that describes the technological interdependence of production sectors of the economy, as well as extensive trade and capital flow data to determine the share of each sector’s demand that can be met by local production.

2. Survey Findings

This study builds on the information gathered for the first study of the economic contribution of craft brewing in Montana, conducted in 2012. A four-year time series of brewer operations in the state is now available, showing the trends from 2010 through 2013. By the end of 2013, there were 40 breweries in operation in the state. Another 11 breweries were at various stages of the planning process, and several of those responded to the survey questions regarding prior year expenditures and planned capital investments.

The statewide data collected for this analysis showed that in 2013 Montana brewers directly accounted for nearly $34 million in gross sales, 486 jobs, and $9.5 million in employee compensation (including benefits). This represents a dramatic increase from brewer operations in 2010, with employment more than doubling while production and employee compensation increased by 49 and 84 percent, respectively, over the period  (Table 1).

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The expenditures of Montana breweries impact other industries in the state, and the data show a trend toward a larger proportion of the brewery vendor purchases being made within the state. In 2010, $6 million or 38 percent of brewer purchases were from within the state. By 2013, that grew to $11 million in Montana expenditures, increasing to 49 percent of the total (Figure 3).  Many Montana breweries provide a variety of benefits to employees (Figure 4). Paid vacation and health insurance are the most commonly offered benefits, offered by 22 and 17 Montana breweries, respectively, during 2013. The “Other” benefits offered by 16 breweries include a wide array of perks, from Health Savings Account contributions to discounts on beer and merchandise, holiday bonuses and assistance with education expenses.

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Particularly with a sector that is growing as rapidly as Montana’s craft brewing industry, impacts in terms of jobs and output (sales) tend to lag behind the activity generated in the economy. There are significant investments made before a single batch of beer is produced. Furthermore, existing breweries with plans to ramp up production to meet increasing demand also make major capital investments before the associated jobs and output are generated.

In order to get information on upcoming craft impacts of the industry, brewers were asked if they expect to make major capital investments during 2014 and 2015.  Thirty-one of the 49 breweries that had participated in the survey indicated having major capital investments planned for 2014 and 2015, summing to over $9 million for those that provided a dollar value. This is a conservative estimate because some breweries indicating expecting a major investment but they did not specify a dollar value. However, the brewers’ responses suggest continued growth for the industry in upcoming years.

3. The Economic Impact of Craft Brewing

Without the operations of Montana’s breweries, the state economy would look much different. The financial flows described above would not be present.  The impacts in this section refer to the difference between the baseline economy that includes craft brewing, and the alternative economy with the economic activities of breweries removed. The alternative simulation represents a new “resting point” for the Montana economy without the employment, purchases, and investment induced by brewer operations.

Impacts Summary

This study clearly shows that because of the operations of Montana’s breweries, the Montana economy is larger, more prosperous, and more populous. Taking into account the interactions between industry sectors and geographic regions, Montana’s craft brewers produce several net benefits to the state economy. Brewer operations result in the following ultimate economic impacts in the state:

  • 673 jobs, concentrated in the manufacturing sector, but including jobs in a wide range of industries;
  • more than $18 million additional income received by Montana households;
  • disposable household income that is more than $15 million higher;
  • sales from businesses and organizations based in Montana that are more than $60 million higher, and
  • Montana tax and non-tax revenues – not including property taxes – that are more than $4 million higher.

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Employment Impacts

While employment impacts from brewer operations are concentrated in the manufacturing sector, which includes craft brewing, several other sectors are also supported by the activities of Montana’s brewers, including construction, state and local government, and retail trade (Table 3). The spending of workers employed by breweries, as well as the vendor purchases of breweries, are the drivers that support additional jobs outside of the manufacturing sector.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 10.33.53 PMGross Sales Impacts

The operations of Montana brewers have a positive effect on gross sales of businesses not only in the manufacturing sector, but across a broad range of other sectors of the Montana economy as well (Figure 5).

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With brewing falling under the major industry heading of manufacturing, Montana’s manufacturing sector has the largest output gain of $41.6 million due to craft brewer operations. Furthermore, the sales of all kinds of Montana entities benefit from an economy including craft brewing, notably construction, as well as state and local government, retail trade and health care.

Compensation Impacts

Wages and salaries paid to Montana workers are higher by $13.6 million per year in an economy with craft brewers compared to one without, and when benefits are added to that, the additional compensation is more than $19 million annually. By adding in income of proprietors and the self-employed, that figure adds up to an impact of more than $22.5 million supported by the operations of Montana brewers. The additional jobs supported by the brewing sector have average earnings of $33,390 per job.

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Population Impacts

An economy with craft brewing presents job opportunities that can be expected to attract new Montana residents and a net increase in population. These population impacts can either be due to workers coming from outside of Montana’s borders seeking economic opportunities, or by Montana retaining residents due to the larger economy afforded by a scenario “with” versus “without” brewing.

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The population impact is mainly in the working age group of 25-64 with an increase of 64 people. Additionally, the activities of brewers have a population impact of 24 people ages 15-24, and another 28 that are age 14 or younger (Table 5). New Montana residents attributable to the craft brewing sector tend to be in the younger age cohorts. Workers migrating for job opportunities are often younger, and these workers and often bring children with them, or have children after relocating.

State Revenue Impacts

Montana craft brewers clearly have an impact on governments as well as other business sectors. The larger and more populous economy due to brewer operations generates a larger tax base. Table 6 includes some of the additional state revenues that are generated in a Montana economy that includes the operations of brewers.

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4. Summary and Conclusion

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the economic impact of Montana’s craft brewers. The Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) of the University of Montana School of Business Administration was commissioned by the Montana Brewers Association (MBA) to undertake this task, which is the second such study done at the request of the MBA (Sorenson et al. 2012).

The survey results from this study indicate rapid growth in Montana’s brewing sector. By the end of 2013 there were 40 breweries operating in the state, and Montana ranked third in number of breweries per 100,000 adults over age 21, according to the Brewers Association. From 2010 to 2013, Montana craft beer production increased by 49 percent, while sales increased by 55 percent and expenditures (vendor purchases) were up by 44 percent. The portion of brewery purchases made in Montana increased more than out-of-state expenditures, going from 39 percent to 49 percent of total expenditures. Montana brewery employment more than doubled from 231 to 486 jobs, and compensation increased 84 percent during the period.

We found that the activities of Montana brewers have created a more prosperous Montana economy with more gross sales, jobs, and compensation than a Montana economy without these firms, which continues the trend identified in the 2012 study of the brewing sector. Brewing operations cause direct and indirect impacts through paying wages and salaries and by stimulating increased purchases between vendors.  The value added to their products as they move through the supply chain from brewers to wholesalers and retailers further stimulates the economy. Finally, induced effects are generated by the new jobs and personal income gains attributable to brewer operations, leading to more goods and services being purchased from all kinds of businesses throughout the state.

Our study approach was to look at two scenarios of the Montana economy – one scenario that includes the operations of craft brewers, and another scenario that removes these activities through the use of an economic impact modeling software package. By looking at the difference in the two economic scenarios, we identified the ultimate economic impacts due to Montana craft brewer operations in terms of jobs, population, and income flows to individuals, business, and state government.

The results of this study highlight the growing importance of the brewing sector in the Montana economy. In terms of jobs, income, sales, and revenue generation, the economic impacts of this sector are evident across industries and among regions of the state.

5. References

Sorenson, C.B., T.A. Morgan, S. Furniss. 2012. The Economic Impact of Craft Brewing in Montana. Montana Business Quarterly, Vol. 50, No. 4, winter 2012.

Treyz, G.I. 1993. Regional Economic Modeling: A Systematic Approach to Economic Forecasting and Policy Analysis. Norwell: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Treyz, G.I. 1980. Design of a Multiregional Policy Analysis Model. Journal of Regional Science, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp. 191-206.

Treyz, G.I., D.S. Rickman, G. Shao. 1991. The REMI Economic-Demographic Forecasting and Simulation Model. International Regional Science Review, Volume 14, pp. 221-253.

The Latest on Montana Breweries from Growler Fills

See this post from Growler Fills with the latest beer news from around the state, including Beaverhead’s opening in Dillon!

Also news on brewery progress in Butte, Lolo, Kalispell, Sidney, and Missoula.

Congrats to Montana’s newest brewery, Beaverhead Brewing Co., which quietly opened in Dillon this past weekend.  Their official grand opening is set for Saturday, June 21, 2014. If you’re near Dillon this weekend you’ll find them at 218 S. Montana Street …

Read more on Growler Fills


Jeff Grant from Draughtworks makes the list: 20 Under 40

20 Under 40: Honoring young western Montanans making a difference

5390b43077e21.preview-620This article appeared in The Missoulian on June 8th, 2014:

Stirring the mash early on a weekday morning, Jeff Grant considered the beer to come. More than 430 gallons of water mixed with 1,200 pounds of grain will yield roughly 15 barrels of a seasonal IPA in a few short weeks.


Grant, a University of Montana graduate, isn’t a newcomer to the craft of brewing. As the son of eastern Montana brewers, he was practically born into the trade….

Read the full article at The Missoulian

June 2014 MBA Newsletter

Dear Montana Beer Lovers,

Lots of great happenings in the beer world of the great state of Montana!

Our next festival is in Helena in honor of the city’s 150th Birthday. It’s the marquee event this summer celebrating our state’s capital. The event poster is below, please help us spread the word by RSVPing on Facebook and inviting your friends!

As of now we have 600 people invited, and 218 attending on the Facebook page…we’d love your help in boosting those numbers!

We’re also planning for the 2014 Montana Brewers Festival and Conference in Missoula. The festival will be Saturday, October 11 followed by two days of conference for brewers. This is our biggest event of the year, and we’re excited to be back in Missoula with our family of brewers for good times, great beer, and a lot of learning at our conference. For the first time, brewers from other states will be welcome to register for our conference, as most of the sessions apply to all breweries, with just a few Montana-specific topics. Please help us spread the word about these events as well. Here’s the link to our Brewers Festival: Brewers Festival in Missoula Oct 11.

Montana Brewers are also in the news all over the state, with new breweries opening, and member breweries getting recognition for their great work. You can see these items of interest on our website in our “news” section, and lots more coverage on our Facebook Page and our Twitter Account.

We also recently joined Instagram, and you can find us under “MontanaBrewers“. If you’re on Instagram, and take pictures of Montana beer, please tag them with #mtbeer, and they’ll show up on our Instagram Facebook feed. We’re loving seeing your pictures on there!

Please visit the news section on our website to read about the following:

Also, check out our Associate Members and consider giving these folks your business. Those who support Montana breweries should be supported in return! Many thanks.

We are always looking for more Associate Members to boost our efforts, so if your business would like to show some support, please visit this page to sign up: Membership.

Welcome our newest Associate Members:

The MBA is also seeking sponsors for our Helena Festival. If you’d like your business to have a presence at our festival, please see sponsorship information below and be in touch no later than July 1.

Last but not least, our Trail Map is getting a lot of attention! We now have the map downloadable on our site, so please print yourself out a copy for your next road trip, or send along to folks traveling through the state this summer. Please share this on Facebook as well…we posted this on our page and so far it has 144 shares and 187 likes…so we’re getting the message that folks like this tool, and I’m happy to say we needed to add a section this year to accommodate for all the new breweries! Bravo!

Get your MBA Trail Map here! Special thanks to Steffen Rasile of our Associate Member company sra Design Studios in Helena for updating the MBA website and creating the downloadable Trail Map! Cheers.

I hope there are lots of delicious Montana-made brews in your near future.

Best regards,

Tony Herbert, Executive Director
Montana Brewers Association
Helena, Montana

Winners: Montana Posts Strong Showing At North American Beer Awards

Winners: Montana Posts Strong Showing At North American Beer Awards

(Re-post with permission from Growler Fills)

Winners: Montana Posts Strong Showing At North American Beer Awards

Held each year in June, the annual 2014 North American Beer Awards took place last weekend in conjunction with the Mountain Brewers Beer Fest in Idaho Falls, ID.  The competition organized by the North American Brewers Association is conducted as a single blind sampling followed by rank ordering of the entries within a category.

It’s a big deal, too, annually receiving more than 1,400 entries, including many of the best from around the western U.S. and beyond.  Montana’s breweries put on a strong showing once again.  Here are the Montana winners:

Big Sky Brewing Company

  • Gold – Bobo’s Robust Porter – Robust Porter
  • Gold – Summer Honey – Honey Beer

Bitterroot Brewing

  • Silver -  Nut Brown Ale – English-Style Brown Ale
  • Silver -  Bitterroot Oatmeal Stout – Oatmeal Stout

Canyon Creek Brewing

  • Silver – One Night Stand – Golden or Blonde Ale

Carter’s Brewing

  • Bronze – Switchyard Scottish Ale – Scottish-Style Export
  • Bronze – Frambeaux – Lambic
  • Silver – Biere de Mars 2014 – Biere de Garde
  • Gold – Rob Moore Abbey Ale – Dubbel
  • Gold – The Golden Boy – Tripel

Draught Works

  • Bronze – That’s What She Said – Cream Ale
  • Gold – Backdraught – German-Style Rauchbier

Flathead Lake Brewing Co.

  • Bronze – Dirty Ginger – Other Belgian-Style Ales
  • Gold – Montucky Sour Brown – Flanders-Style Red or Brown Ale

Great Northern Brewing Co.

  • Gold – Wheatfish – Hefeweizen

Kettlehouse Brewing Co.

  • Bronze – Fresh Bongwater – English-Style Summer Ale
  • Silver – Double Haul – English-Style India Pale Ale

Madison River Brewing Co.

  • Bronze – Frostbite Barley Wine 12 – American-Style Barley Wine

Montana Brewing Co.

  • Bronze – Whitetail Wheat – Hefeweizen
  • Bronze – Custer’s Last Stout – Oatmeal Stout
  • Bronze – Beartooth Espresso Porter – Coffee Beers

Philipsburg Brewing Company

  • Silver – Corners Porter - Coffee Beers

Red Lodge Ales Brewing Co.

  • Silver – Liver Eatin’ Ale – Dark Hefeweizen

Tamarack Brewing Co.

  • Gold – Blue Jay White IPA – Hybrid Style Beers
  • Silver – Training Wheels Rootbeer – Carbonated Soft Drinks


  • Silver – Alt 0220 – Altbier
  • Bronze – Black Hops Tactical IPA – Cascadian Style Dark Ale


Walsh sponsors legislation to cut taxes for Montana brewers and distillers

Measures would help reduce overhead so small businesses can grow and create more jobs

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator John Walsh today sponsored legislation to reduce taxes for Montana brewers, building on his work to support one of Montana’s growing industries and help create good-paying jobs in Montana.

“Montana’s industry of brewers and distillers contribute to our local economies, strengthen our state and create good-paying jobs – it’s our job to help them thrive,” Walsh said.  “Cutting taxes brewers and distillers pay will reduce their overhead so they can return the investment in their businesses, grow their operation and add unbeatable Made in Montana products to shelves across the state and country.”

The bipartisan BEER Act will halve the excise tax on all beer from $18 a barrel to $9 – approximately 2.5 cents per can, down from five cents – and lower rates for small brewers from $7 to $3.50 or less.  All Montana brewers would benefit from this adjustment.

The bipartisan Small BREW Act is targeted specifically to lowering the excise tax for smaller brewers.  It would halve the excise tax on the first 60,000 barrels of beer produced by small brewers from $7 to $3.50, and it would give a $2 break for small breweries for every barrel they produce between 60,000 and 2 million.

With 46 breweries, and at least six more expected to open later this year, Montana has the third-highest number of small breweries per capita in the nation.  Brewers use over 6 million pounds of malted grain, much of which is grown in Montana. The breweries employ more than 500 Montanans. In 2013 alone, craft beer production increased 15% in Montana in 2013.

Senator Jon Tester is a cosponsor of the BEER Act and the Small BREW Act.

Montana is also home to a burgeoning distillery industry.  Last month, Walsh announced the creation of the Small Distillers Caucus at Headframe Spirits in his hometown of Butte, where he heard from owner Jeff McKee about the amount of taxes his business paid – often at the expense of covering other costs. Walsh supports the Distillery Excise Tax Reform Act to reduce the excise rate for distilled spirits to only $2.70 for the first 100,000 proof gallons produced.  Every gallon above 100,000 would continue to be taxed at the rate under current law of $13.50 per proof gallon.  Montana currently has 16 distilleries in operation and they would all benefit from a reduction in the excise tax.

Here is what Montanans are saying about Walsh’s support for lowering taxes on distillers and brewers:

“Microbreweries and distilleries represent a fast-growing segment of the Montana economy that not only support a renewal of domestic manufacturing, but also Montana’s agriculture by increasing demand for locally-grown ingredients.  A reduction in the tax burden faced by small breweries and distilleries will help these businesses grow.  We applaud Sen. Walsh’s continued support of Montana-based small business and agriculture.”

- Matt Muth and Phil Sullivan, 406 Brewing Company and WildRye Distilling, Bozeman

“Beer plays a big part in Montana’s agricultural economy. Both large and small U.S. brewers benefit from Montana grown barley. We applaud Senator Walsh for cosponsoring the Small Brew Act because it will help us keep more dollars in Missoula’s economy.”

– Tim O’Leary, Kettlehouse Brewing Company,  Missoula

“The Small BREW Act is a great bill for the Montana craft beer industry and it is a great bill for each community in the state that is home to a local brewery.  By the end of this year, Blackfoot River Brewing Company will have been in business for sixteen years and in that time we will have paid a quarter of a million dollars in federal beer excise tax.  At Blackfoot River Brewing Company we take great pride in being an active part of our community.  I appreciate Senator Walsh’s support for the Small BREW Act that will allow us to spend more money in our community instead of sending it to Washington D.C.”

– Brad Simshaw, Blackfoot River Brewing Company, Helena

April Newsletter: MBA Spring Festival, New Breweries & New Associate Members

Billings Spring Brewfest April 25th in Metra Park

Billings Spring Brewfest April 25th in Metra Park

Montana Brewers Spring Festival

April 25th 2014 – MetraPark, Billings MT

Join 22 Montana Brewers Association craft breweries to enjoy 71 of their Montana-made beers! Live music from The Growlers & Cure for the Common. Your ticket price includes a 9oz commemorative glass with unlimited samples of Montana beer. Food from our friends at Fat Taco, Jimmy’s Greece Pit, Cajun Phatty’s and Taste of Asia.

VIP Tickets-4pm Entry & Meet the Brewers:
$30 in advance/$35 at the gate

General Admission 5pm:
$20 in advance/$25 at the gate

Get Your Tickets Now! 

Please Welcome  Our New Breweries
Thank You to our New Associate Members

Mark Your Calendars

Cheers to our Newest Members

Beer Glass from Map

Raise Your Glasses in Thanks!

March 2014,

Please Welcome Our New Breweries:

Raise Your Glass to our New Associate Members

Montana Brewers Billings Spring Brewfest

April 25th at MetraPark

VIP Entry at 4pm General Admission 5pm

More Information on our Facebook Event Page


2013 Brewers Recap

2013 was a very active year for the Montana Brewers, to say the least. We have experienced remarkable growth once again as several new breweries hit the scene and joined the association.

In January the Montana Brewers Association published our first ever Montana Brewers Economic Study. Developed by the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, this study identified that our industry is growing with double digit numbers, and now is a $50 million dollar industry impacting over 450 Montana jobs. We will be commissioning a new study to be completed in 2014.

The year began with a big boom when the Montana Tavern Association introduced a bill that would have decimated the brewing industry, attempting to limit on-premise sales to just 10% of brewery production. We were successful in killing that bill, only to find another introduced which sought to limit on-premise sales to 40% and hinder entry into the Montana brewery industry. With the help of craft beer lovers throughout the state, and some hard work by several legislators, we defeated this bill as the session came towards its close. A veritable sigh of relief was heard all across Montana when HB616 took its last breath. Though our Joint Resolution, HJR 18, to study these issues in the interim and develop real and lasting solutions received a 19 to 0 vote in the House Business Committee, it died on the House Floor in a 50 to 50 vote.

Following the 2013 Legislature were several months of thrilling activities working with new breweries (now 35) and Associate Members (now 63), as well as hosting four great events for craft beer lovers and brewers in Montana:

  • The 2013 Spring Brewers Festival in Billings on May 31 at the Billings Depot- At our first Spring Festival, 1,200 people joined 23 brewers with 76 beers to make this the largest collection of Montana brewed beer to date, along with great music and food.
  • The Cruise With Charlie on Flathead Lake on August 10 – 125 lucky people cruised the lake with Charlie Papazian, president of the national Brewers Association and author of the bible of home brewing “The Complete Joy of Home Brewing”.
  • The 5th Annual Montana Brewers Fall Festival in Missoula on September 28 – 2,400 people joined us at Caras Park along the Clark Fork River and included 25 Montana brewers hosting 87 beers including 21 Festival Special Release Beers! With 87 beers, we hosted the largest ever collection of Montana made beer on display! Next year (mark your calendars -Oct 11, 2014) we hope to go over 100!
  • The 2nd Annual Montana Brewers Conference in Missoula on September 29 and 30- This 2-day technical conference was a big success for our industry where we assembled to strategize and discuss brewing techniques and policies. Over 110 brewers and staff attended with 21 sponsoring companies.

In the midst of this busy summer and fall we also coordinated a Montana Craft Brewers Industry Review at the Baucus Economic Summit in Butte in mid-September. This panel was moderated by Charlie Papazian (that’s twice visiting Montana within a month), and included a panel of 3 breweries (Big Sky, Lewis and Clark, and Beaver Creek), Cardinal Distributing, and a Malteurop representative regarding the economic impact of the craft brewing industry in the state.

The Montana Brewers Association also engaged in its first ever strategic planning effort. This process identified key areas of focus for the association for 2014 and 2015 to support its members.

2014 looks to be another active year.

Here’s a sneak preview:

We have called together industry partners in an effort to proactively use the legislative interim on brewery-related policy issues. This historic gathering of 15 representatives from Montana Brewers, Montana Taverns, Montana Distributors, Montana Gaming, and the state, are meeting in hopes of developing a bill to address brewery issues within the liquor control statutes. We have high hopes that this group, who has never assembled before, can assist us in making much needed improvements and provide insight throughout this process.

The Montana Brewers Association will once again commission an economic development study. This year’s study will measure 2012 and 2013 growth and be available in the late spring/early summer.

We are intending to host 4 events once again this year so mark your calendars:

  • 2nd Annual Spring Festival in Billings - Our second Spring Fest is coming and we are hoping to top last year’s attendance and fun. We are still working on details but we are aiming for April or May at the Metra Park.
  • Helena’s 150 Birthday Brew Fest - August 16, Centennial Park – Helena is 150 years old this year having struck gold in 1864. The city has asked us to host an event and we are excited to be working with them to make this one of the marquee events for the city for this coming summer.
  • 6th Annual Montana Brewers Fall Festival - Oct. 11, Caras Park – Our third year in Missoula, the Montana brewers are coming back with their Festival Release Beers and hoping to have over 100 beers available to sample.
  • 3rd Montana Brewers Conference – Oct. 12, and 13, Downtown Holiday Inn, Missoula – Our annual technical conference for brewers and staff to meet and engage one another on brewing techniques and policy.

The Montana Brewers Association wants to thank our passionate patrons throughout the state for their support in 2013.

Read an article about Montana brewing written by the President of the Brewers Association

MBA Executive Director Tony Herbert alongside Charlie Papazian on our MBA 2013 Cruise

MBA Executive Director Tony Herbert alongside Charlie Papazian on our MBA 2013 Cruise

Many of us had the distinct pleasure of meeting Charlie Papazian in his travels through Montana this summer. We wanted to share this article with you, written by Charlie, from the most recent New Brewer Magazine. It’s a great read. Charlie is the President of the Brewers Association which represents American breweries on a national level.

We can’t thank Charlie enough for his focus on Montana.
Good things ahead!

Flathead Lake, Summer 2013.

Photo credit: Alan McCormick of Growler Fills

Click here to read: The Big Picture of Small Brewers