Montana Brewers Association


HB 185 offers more hours, boost to Montana’s economy

Posted On February 4, 2019


HELENA – As long as Montana breweries have been selling pints in their taprooms, the law that ends beer sales at 8 pm has been a source of consternation for patrons. All that would change if a bill extending taproom hours to 10 pm becomes law.

HB 185, sponsored by Representative Dave Fern (D-Whitefish), makes just one change to the current law. It strikes the “8” and replaces it with “10.” The change is simple but the effect could be significant for Montana’s economy.

“Montana’s craft brewing industry is an economic engine for our state,” says Fern. “Allowing breweries to have two more hours is popular with Montanans, but more importantly, doing so will increase the positive impact this industry is having on Montana’s economy.”

Craft breweries engage in and support Montana’s two biggest industries – agriculture and tourism – and comprise a significant portion of Montana’s manufacturing sector. Breweries in Montana generate an annual economic impact of $442 million and support 2,732 jobs, according to 2017 data from the Brewers Association.

“The local economy in my community leans heavily on tourism and breweries are an important part of it,” says Fern. “But ending taproom sales at 8 o’clock limits that potential, especially in the summer when visitors are still enjoying the outdoors at that time.”

Breweries are becoming an increasingly important part of Montana’s $5 billion tourism industry. A recent report from The Institute for Tourism and Economic Research at UM identified “Visiting a local brewery” as a top ten activity for tourists in Montana.

Craft breweries also contributed to Montana’s ranking of third for per capita growth in manufacturing jobs over the past five years, a point highlighted last September in the release of the 2018 Labor Day Report by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. During that same period (2012 to 2017), the number of breweries in Montana doubled. Today, there are 84 breweries open in Montana, with a presence in 45 communities across the state.

“The success of our taproom in downtown Philipsburg enabled us to expand into a second production facility, purchase a canning line, get into statewide distribution and employ more staff,” says Nolan Smith, Co-owner of Philipsburg Brewing Company. “We were able to bring manufacturing jobs back to our community.”

Philipsburg lost is manufacturing jobs when the mining and logging industries left town. Today, Philipsburg Brewing Company is the largest manufacturing employer in Granite County. Smith describes the taproom as the cornerstone of a craft brewery’s business. It offers a marketing opportunity to build a brand and is an important source of revenue to build the business. Taproom revenue also provides capital to reinvest in the manufacturing side of the brewery.

“What our brewery has accomplished in Philipsburg is just one example of the positive impact breweries are making in communities across Montana,” says Smith. “Going to 10 pm would fuel more growth in this industry and better position Montana breweries to compete with regional and national breweries that often have the advantage of more retail privileges in their home states.”

Montana’s burgeoning craft brewing industry is also creating opportunity for other entrepreneurs, as evidenced by the emergence of craft malting facilities in the state. Montana Craft Malt is completing construction on a $15 million facility in Butte capable of producing 10,000 tons of malt barley each year. The craft maltster is set begin production this spring and begin supplying local breweries and breweries around the country with high-quality craft malt from Montana.

“Craft malt, much like Montana craft beer, is a value added product that can help strengthen Montana’s economy,” says Jennifer O’Brien, president of Montana Craft Malt. “Passing HB 185 will be a boost to Montana craft brewers as well as businesses like ours that are built on the foundation established by our craft brewing industry.”

HB 185 has its first hearing in the House Business and Labor Committee on Tuesday morning at 8:30. The bill needs to pass several hurdles before it becomes law.

2018 Fall Newsletter

Posted On October 18, 2018

2018 Summer Newsletter

Posted On August 3, 2018

7th Annual Montana Brewers Conference and Trade Show set for September 27-28

Posted On July 31, 2018


7th Annual Montana Brewers Conference and Trade Show set for September 27-28

Conference offers variety of talks focused on technical brewing, business, and front-of-house topics

Helena, MT (July 31, 2018) – Brewers and beer industry representatives alike will have the opportunity to elevate their craft through a variety of talks and panel discussions at the 2018 Montana Brewers Conference and Trade Show happening September 27-28, 2018 at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel Missoula-Edgewater in Missoula, MT.

Presented in partnership by the Montana Brewers Association and Fermentana, the conference will feature plenary talks, as well as breakout sessions covering three topic-focused tracks – technical brewing, business, and front-of-house operations – over the course of the two days. Several networking activities for attendees will also be held during the event. Over 150 attendees are expected at the seventh annual event, including over 15 businesses exhibiting in the trade show.

The keynote speaker for the event is John Holl, Author and Editor of Craft Beer & Brewing (speaking on Thursday at 10:10am). Additionally, Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, Ph.D., Diversity Ambassador for the Brewers Association, will give a plenary session talk (Friday at 10am) on the second day of the conference about strategies and tactics for being inclusive and building diversity in craft beer.

Kara Taylor, Senior Laboratory Manager of White Labs, will share steps on setting up a brewery lab to test for the essentials in beer quality. In addition, Ian Hughes, Sustainability Ambassador from the Brewers Association will present on sustainability resources for brewers, as well as moderate a group discussion on current Montana examples of brewery sustainability in-practice.

A panel discussion focused on understanding the use of distilled hop oils in brewing will feature Tom Britz, CEO of Glacier Hops Ranch; Tim Schnarrs II, Chief Brewing Officer and Director of Brewery Operations at Meadowlark Brewing; and Marcus Duffey, General Manager and Managing Partner of Great Northern Brewing; moderated by Niki Bates, Marketing Director of Great Northern Brewing.

Other speakers and panelists include Acacia Coast, State Brewers Guild Manager from the Brewers Association; Kori Christianson, Marketing Manager for Draught Works Brewery; Nicko Lannan, Creative Manager for Draught Works Brewery; Jon Graber, Sales Manager at Micro Matic; Isaac Taylor, General Manager at Neptune’s Brewery; Loy Maierhauser, Marketing Manager at Map Brewing; and Leif Miltenberger, Hired Guns Creative.

The conference will end on Friday with a final breakout session featuring talks in each track including a panel discussion exploring the ins-and-outs of barrel-aging beers with speakers Ryan Beal, Brewer at Bozeman Brewing; David Brendgard, Director of Brewery Operations for Flathead Lake Brewing Company; and Mike Elliott, Head Brewer for Philipsburg Brewing Company.

The complete conference schedule can be found on the event website.

About the Montana Brewers Conference:

The Montana Brewers Conference provides brewery owners and staff, as well as those working in related partner industries, with a high-quality educational experience and opportunity to network with individuals throughout the local, regional, and national beer industries. In addition, the conference includes a trade show featuring services and products offered by participating sponsors.


Montana Brewers Association

Montana Brewers Association

P.O. Box 763

Helena, MT 59624

406-948-BREW (2739)