Temperatures pushing into the 90s call for something refreshing. Beers that are light-bodied and low-ABV tend to be the way to go this time of year, but there are a variety of beer styles brewers produce to quench your thirst during this glorious time known as summer in Montana.
Mexican lagers have been increasingly popular the past few years and this is the perfect time of year to enjoy them. Low bitterness with a clean, crisp finish makes for a very crushable beer. There’s some debate about what distinguishes an authentic Mexican lager from a European-style lager, though the use of flaked maize is often considered essential to be considered a true Mexican lager. It’s worth noting the German and Austrian roots of Mexico’s brewing tradition dates back to the mid 19th century, which helps illuminate that the styles are not only similar but share a common history.
ABV 4.7 IBU 19
Pocket Cowboy Cerveza is a Mexican style lager using flaked maize in the malt, the perfect amount of noble hops for a crisp bite, and a simple easy to grab name. This beer is light, tasty, and pairs great with Taco Tuesday!
Is there really a bad time of year for a pilsner? Probably not, but they sure do taste extra good in the summer. Not surprisingly, we included pilsners in our article on spring beers in our Spring Newsletter. Folks certainly love a good pilsner, with its light color, dry finish and perfectly subtle amount of bitterness. Accordingly, many Montana brewers are producing high-quality pilsners these days.
Lewis & Clark Brewing Co.
ABV 5.5 IBU 15
Pompey’s Pilsner is an award winning golden Lager named after Pompey’s Pillar, which features the signature of Captain William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In honor of this sandstone pillar that overlooks the Yellowstone River, Lewis & Clark Brewing Co. pays homage to these explorers with a refreshing golden Lager brewed in the traditional Czech style. Pompey’s Pilsner is part of the limited release Expedition series, and just like the monument, this is a signature worthy beer.
In an increasingly complicated world filled with constant stimuli designed to hold your attention and drain your wallet, it’s important to take a step back once in a while to appreciate the old ways. Ronan Co-op’s traditional Pilsner is a lager that aims to epitomize simplicity and elegance at a practical 5.2% abv. Brewed in the old way with traditional ingredients, there’s no flashy lights or triggering noises, but still the same dopamine to remind you there are people out there who can keep things grounded.
Blondes are another great summer style. Light in color (yellow to gold), with a medium to light body, low IBUs and a crisp finish, these beers are really easy-drinking and deserve a spot in your cooler on a hot day.
New Ventures Brewing
1000 Burning Arrows- Blonde Ale with Roasted Chile
ABV 5.6 IBU 22
This summer ale showcases fresh, hand-roasted Anaheim and Poblano chiles with just the right amount of heat to invite another pint. The locally produced 2-row malt from Gallatin Valley Malt Co and flaked barley provides a smooth backbone to this adventurous beer. Perfect for pairing with a late summer night barbecue or Viking longboat funeral!
India Pale Ales continue to dominate the craft beer scene, accounting for about 40% of the entire craft market. It’s also the beer style that probably has the most varieties – English, Imperial, Hazy, West Coast, Session, Black, Milkshake, Dry Hop, and on and on. We don’t expect the mighty IPA to go into decline anytime soon, and brewers keep coming up with new twists on this favorite style.
Alewife Double IPA
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble…a fruity, dank witches’ brew of happiness. Strata, Mosaic, and Wolf hops give off strawberry shortcake aromatics but offer a soft and smooth landing that hide the 8.3% ABV witchcraft that will leave you looking for your pointy hat, broom, and neighbor’s cat.
Those are just a few of the seasonal offerings on tap at breweries around Montana. Before you head to the river or campsite, stop by your local brewery to see what new and refreshing beers they’ve been brewing to wet your whistle.
In 1987, Reinhard Schulte, a German native, wanted to open an authentic German brewery in Montana where patrons could watch the actual brewing process take place while enjoying a beer. Schulte decided to collaborate with Jurgen Knoller, who arrived in Missoula from Germany just five days before the opening of the brewery on August 6th. 35 years later, Jurgen is the owner of Bayern Brewing today, still helping keep German brewing traditions alive and craft beer in Missoula thriving.
Jurgen and Reinhard set out to brew something a little darker than what Americans were used to at the time. They didn’t want to overdo it on the hops and ‘scare’ people, so they chose to brew an Amber. In this area in the 80s, people were used to almost only lighter beers, like Rainier and Oly, so when the Bayern Amber came out, it marked a huge shift in what people in Montana expected. Some say it changed the whole landscape of beer and was known as the ‘Amber vision.’ Because they were so committed to sharing authentic German beer with Montanans, Jurgen had hops delivered through his connections back in Germany, which had to be delivered one tiny package at a time.
In the beginning, Bayern was based in the Old Northern Pacific building with a restaurant open next door in conjunction with the brewery. In 1991, Jurgen had the opportunity to buy the brewery, so he made an offer and became the owner. Jurgen’s then wife Tami Ursich bought the liquor license from the restaurant, and opened up the Iron Horse.
Eventually, Jurgen slowly transitioned to shipping out of a new location on 3rd street (which is now Le Petit), and in 1997 that’s where he officially relocated the brewery . Another major shift at this time was when Bayern started bottling the Amber which was the first Montana beer packaged since Highlander stopped packaging 26 years prior.
The next big change came in 2001 when Jurgen moved production and shipping into Bayern’s current location on 1507 Montana Street and brought on a new Brewmaster, Thorsten Geuer. He came from Germany having no idea where Missoula, Montana was, but figured he would make it work. As soon as Jurgen picked up Thorsten from the airport, the two immediately went to the brewery to finish brewing a batch and now, 21 year later, Thorsten is still brewing at Bayern.
Running the brewery has not been without its challenges. Bayern nearly ran into trouble a few years ago because of a law limiting barrelage production to under 10,000 beer barrels (BBL) and running a taproom at the same time. In 2017, the law was changed so that larger breweries could produce up to 60,000 BBL annually and operate a taproom simultaneously. This change allowed Bayern to bolster production of their signature beers without losing their taproom.
But despite changes in ownership, location, and even Montana laws, to this day, Bayern maintains a true German brewing tradition, even down to the gaskets used in their brewing system. Getting the equipment to keep this system running usually requires an annual trip back to Germany, since it’s not exactly easy to get metric system brewing equipment in the United States. This means that even the labels, dials, controls, and buttons for the brewing system are all in German.
Bayern stands apart, even after 35 years of operation. Bayern continues to be one of the longest operating craft breweries in Montana, as well as the only authentically German brewery in the state. Their offerings are all brewed in accordance with the German Law of Purity, or Reinheitsgebot, of 1516. Jurgen’s commitment to brewing tradition helped to pioneer craft beer in Montana at a time when the industry was not very popular and has made a lasting impact on craft in Missoula and beyond Cheers to Bayern’s 35 years, and many more to come.
Come celebrate 35 years with Bayern right in the heart of Downtown Missoula at Caras Park on Saturday August 13th, from 3-9pm. There will be live music featuring Royal Bliss with special guest Reverend Slanky. Local food vendors on-site, exciting games, and live giveaways with K.C. and 96.3 The Blaze. Stop by the booth and take a walk back in time with photos of where it all began and artwork by Monte Dolack Fine Art. There will be a merch booth stocked with a one-time limited run of 35th Anniversary logo wear including hats, t-shirts, tank tops, and even fancy shades.
Of course there will be plenty of Bayern beer, wooden barrel tappings, and a full bar catered by The Rhino. Show up early to get your hands on a LIMITED edition commemorative glass stein ($15, includes one free beer token). With two of the biggest names in the industry it’s going to be one hell of a party!
Craft brewing continues to grow as an industry in Montana. All of the ingredients for craft beer, like malt and hops, can be grown locally in the state, so it should come as no surprise that this is a growing sector. New breweries and tap houses continue to pop up across the state. Here’s a look at some of the newest additions to craft beer ranks:
Bozeman – balancing work and play with house-roasted coffee and Montana-brewed beer
Shred Monk opened in Spring of this year, offering a focus on low ABV beers for those who want to share a couple with friends.
Wolf Creek – born out of a passion for delicious, fresh, and unique brews
While still working to solidify their physical location, Lazy I Beerworks promises to be a great addition to Montana’s craft brewing community. Lazy I’s beers are inspired by the Missouri River, as well as unique facets of the Last Best Place.
Helena – opening summer 2022 in the newly renovated Independent Record in downtown Helena
Mt Ascension Brewing inches ever closer to opening in Downtown Helena this summer. Guests were able to sample two of their beers pre-opening at Headwaters Craft House on Sunday, July 31st.
Scobey – small town feel with big community presence
Pleasant Prairie Brewing opened in July of this year in Scobey, a small town on the Hi-Line. They offer handcrafted beers, as well as non-alcoholic sodas, so everybody can enjoy something.
Three Forks – Bridger Brewing’s second location is conveniently located right off Exit 274 in Three Forks
Bridger Brewing opened up a second location this summer, serving delicious food along with their signature brews. They are also serving small batch draft cocktails, including a mule made with house-made ginger beer.
Whitefish – revitalizing the former home of Great Northern Brewing
Jeremiah Johnson, of Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Co. notoriety, took on a two-year long project to revitalize the former home of Great Northern Brewing after they closed their doors in 2020. Blackstar looks to be a community center, serving food, wine, and beer brewed in-house by Jeremiah Johnson.
Craig – offering something for everyone, especially after a day on the river
Craig Taphouse, located outside of Helena, opened earlier this summer to serve visitors to the area drawn in by fishing and other river recreation. The taphouse features local beer on tap from craft breweries across the state.
On June 24, the evening before the commissioning of the USS Montana in Norfolk, VA, around 300 guests gathered for a commemoration reception where they were treated to true Montana culture and fun, including craft beer from the Big Sky State.
The Montana Brewers Association coordinated beer donations for the event, with MAP Brewing and Philipsburg Brewing sending beer for guests to enjoy along with pasties from Butte, naturally. MAP sent a variety of beers from their Bozeman-based brewery, while Philipsburg provided their Montana 1 IPA, named after the local MT Highway 1, also known as the Pintler Veterans’ Memorial Scenic Highway. Additionally, Philipsburg Brewing provided spring water bottled at their second location, The Springs.
Among attendees were some one hundred twenty Montanans who had made the trip to Virginia for the most important event in a warship’s life. They included Tribal leaders from across the state and even rodeo ambassadors – a Miss Rodeo Montana and Miss Livingston Roundup who were in high-photo-demand.
Guests mingled with crew members and leaders from the USS Montana, and dignitaries from the Department of Defense, Navy and shipbuilders and contractors. Attendees saw and heard video presentations that featured much of what makes Montana special. A program highlight was a Native American Honor Song performed by a drum group comprised of veterans from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
After the event, USS Montana Committee Chairman Bill Whitsitt said, “The participation of the brewers and so many of our Montana companies and individuals in supporting our young sailors helps them understand Montana– its economy, history, culture and diversity. Most of all, it demonstrates the connections that will help sustain the crew wherever they sail the Montana in defense of our nation.”
The USS Montana is the first ship named after the state in a century and is the newest and most advanced nuclear-powered fast attack submarine in the U.S. Navy fleet. The first USS Montana was an armored cruiser, commissioned in 1908 and decommissioned in 1921. Two other ships were started and then canceled after the first USS Montana. Up until the recent commissioning of the latest USS Montana, Montana was the only state that did not have a battleship named after it.
The Montana Brewers Association, MAP Brewing and Philipsburg brewing are honored to be a part of this historic occasion and wish the USS Montana and her crew fair winds and following seas.
On Saturday, August 6, breweries from around the state are set to gather in Helena at Memorial Park for the much anticipated Montana Brewers Summer Rendezvous brewfest. What better way to beat the heat than with delicious all Montana made craft beer? And to compliment the local beer, the fest will feature local food vendors and local music, too. VIP hour is from 3-4pm, followed by General Admission from 4-8pm.
Unique to 2022, the Montana Brewers Association wanted to find a way to give back to communities impacted by flooding in the southern part of the state. Craft brewing is about community and to honor that value, our members decided that we will donate $1 for every ticket sold to the Summer Rendezvous directly to Park and Carbon County Flood Relief funds. Our ticketing partner, Sellout, is generously waiving fees on any additional donations our supporters would like to add to flood relief efforts when they purchase tickets.
The event will feature 23 breweries with 78 different brews on offer. Plus, joining us for the first time at the Summer Rendezvous in Helena will be Diamond X Beer, New Ventures Brewing, Shred Monk, and Otium Brewing.
Festival goers can enjoy tasty bites from Cheddar’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese, Aasved Acai, Brown Gringo Taco, Ohana Island Grinds, and the Missionary Mexican. Helena jam band Under the Bleachers will supply tunes from across genre and decade while husband and wife duo, Just the Two of Us, will provide a special VIP hour performance.
Advance VIP and GA tickets are on sale now. Beer lovers can purchase advance tickets online for $5 off the day-of price through Friday, August 5, or for full price online or at the gate on Saturday. You can find more information and tickets here.
Sign up to volunteer and get free admission to the event!
Thank you to our generous sponsors:
Gallatin Valley Malt
Helena Independent Record
Montana Radio Company
Montana Craft Beer Connection
Hollingbery and Son
After the annual Montana Brewers Conference was held virtually in 2020 and relocated to Bozeman in 2021, the 2022 conference is set for a much awaited return to the spacious convention center at the Holiday Inn Downtown in the heart of Missoula.
On September 29 and 30, brewers, industry professionals and partners from across Montana and around the country will come together for two days of educational sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities at the 2022 Montana Brewers Conference.
The MBA is excited to feature two unique keynote speakers to kick off each day of the conference. On Thursday, executive coach and communication professor Ryan Warriner joins us to share how strategic communication can optimize your business. Bart Watson, the chief economist at the Brewers Association, is our featured speaker on Friday, rounding out the conference with the market and economic trends shaping the craft industry in 2022.
The conference will also feature a variety of educational sessions from the technicalities of low carb and low calorie beers to strategic employee recruitment and retention. Each session will take place in a dedicated breakout space. An exciting lineup of presenters include Seattle marketing firm Blind Tiger Designs, malt expert Hannah Turner of the MSU Barley, Malt & Brewing Quality Lab, and local diversity, equity, and inclusion specialists EmpowerMT.
In addition to educational presentations and panels, the conference will also provide tasting workshops, dedicated time each day to explore the trade show, and evening networking opportunities. We’re particularly excited to host a tasting roundtable to receive feedback on your beer and an expansive trade show in the larger space. The evening lineup includes brews and arcade games at GILD, a private film screening at the Roxy theater, and an evening of yard games, tasty beverages and bites on the lawn at Big Sky Brewing.
Conference passes are on sale now; MBA Brewery Members and Associate Members receive discounted rates. To learn more or purchase your pass, visit montanabrewersconference.com
Interested in participating in the trade show? Curious about sponsorships? Contact [email protected] for details.