The Evolution of Craft Brewing in Montana

4 Favorite Montana Beers

Ramona Mead

The third annual Montana Brewers Association Spring Festival took place in Bozeman at the Haynes Pavilion on May 7. Representatives from 25 Montana breweries were on hand pouring 86 different Montana made beers, read on to learn about four of my favorites.

Tony Herbert has been the Executive Director of the Montana Brewers Association for the past six years, he will be leaving the organization in July. Tony took a few moments away from the festival to talk with me about the evolution of craft brewing in Montana during his time with the association.

When Tony joined MBA in 2009, the Montana Brewers Association had 17 members, now there are 47. He was quick to point out that this is specifically members enrolled in the association and doesn’t include all individual brewers in Montana.

According to Tony, while the craft beer industry is not unique to Montana, the state ranks third in the nation when it comes to per capita breweries. He spoke to me about how the local brewery is making a difference in small town communities and having positive effects on local economies, particularly for towns like Libby, Sidney and Phillipsburg.

Many Montana craft beer enthusiasts aren’t aware that breweries even exist in some of the small towns. The Montana Brewers Association Spring Festival is an opportunity for brewers to connect with beer aficionados they might not reach otherwise. Of course it is also an opportunity for patrons to sample beers they might not try in a different setting and sample from breweries they aren’t able to visit.

Along with the local brews, the festival also featured food vendors, live music and merchandise from the association and it’s breweries. All attendees received a free tasting glass. I used mine to sample quite a few of the featured beers and here are a few that I found noteworthy!

The Open Cab Copper from Quarry Brewing in Butte was by far one of the most popular beers with the festival attendees I spoke with. This Irish Red Ale is rich with malty caramel flavor and a sweet finish.

Putin’s Revenge Imperial Stout from 406 Brewing here in Bozeman boasts a 10% ABV and packs a punch. It is smooth and flavorful with a bitter but satisfying finish.

Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company in Libby featured Colter Coffee Porter which tastes almost like an iced coffee! The roasted flavor of the coffee compliments the malt in a way one might not expect.

That’s What She Said Cream Ale comes from Draught Works Brewery in Missoula. It has a robust hoppy flavor with a fruity, almost floral finish.

The Montana Brewers Association holds a festival twice per year, in varying locations throughout the state. The next one will be held in Missoula in the fall. Based on the turnout at this year’s spring festival, there’s a good chance it may return to the Haynes Pavilion again in 2016. Regardless of where you attend, if you’re a craft beer enthusiast or interested in becoming one, be sure to make it to one of their next events!  

This was made by

Ramona Mead

Ramona Mead is a freelance writer and jack of all trades. She is passionate about books, music, pets and living life to the fullest here in Montana. Her blog can be found at

View more of Ramona Mead's work »