|Glacier National Park|
Agriculture plays a huge role in Montana. Great Falls, Montana falls at the bottom tip of the golden triangle which is an area known for barley growing, as well as some other grains such a wheat. We were hosted by Malteurop, a malting company which works directly with the farmers of Montana. Although barley is a key ingredient in beer, malt often does not receive the same amount of press as hops. They are working to provide high quality malt while also researching varieties with farmers that are easier and more sustainable to grow while still giving brewers what they need.
|Snow Hop Brewery, Helena, Montana|
|Jeremiah Johnson Brewing|
Company proudly showcases their
local flavor on their cans.
It amazed me how many breweries exist in a state that just tops one million people. It seems that many small towns boast at least one brewery. The "larger" cities have several, and, like most of the people I have met in the beer industry, are passionate about beer, ingredients, and sharing with the public. We were lucky to try a beer from Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Company in Great Falls made with black lentils - a tasty brew which drew some color and body from the legumes. The ingenuity and creativity of brewers never ceases to amaze me, especially when it comes to trying new ingredients.
The history of beer can be fascinating. In Montana, the history of fermented beverages goes as far back as the Lewis and Clark expedition and has been growing ever since. Steven Lozar is a beer historian that I had the pleasure of meeting. He talks of beer being the center of town life with not only social aspects but the economic benefits as well. There is even a Montana Beer Museum in Polson, Montana.
|Beer Wench GA and Steven Lozar in Kalispell 2019|
Where do you drink beer? We drink beer at breweries, pubs, restaurants, bottle shares, parties, and sitting on our decks, but if you are in a state that offers a wide range of outdoor activities, you also drink on your kayak, in your campsite, taking a break while cycling, fishing, and after skiing. In a state where there are plenty of wide-open spaces, you can drink your favorite Montana beers while watching the sun go down at your special recreation spot. So even if your local brewery stops serving at 8:00 pm, you can grab a growler and take it with you on your next big adventure, even if it is just watching elk stroll across your yard.
Montana is on my watch list to see what happens next, and you can be sure that I will be returning to re-visit my favorite places and discover some new ones.Thank you Zephyr Conferences for putting on the BeerNow19 conference in Montana and thanks to all of our local guides. I have so many places and people I want to mention, but for now I can sit on my deck in Georgia with a pint of local beer and remember the beauty of the scenery, the people and the beer of Montana. Where ever you are, eat well and drink good beer.