As we shared with you yesterday, we visited Great Falls, Montana this summer for the Beer Now Conference. While in Great Falls we visited a few breweries, enjoy several beer tastings, and attended the Montana Brew Fest. Suffice it to say, we sampled a LOT of Montana beer. That’s not a brag or a confession, that’s just a fact. #BeerBloggerProblems
So, what did we learn on our summer beercation? We’re so happy you asked!
We brought back from our trip a love for Montana and a much deeper appreciation of Montana craft beer. Montana brewers are making some really creative, surprising, and truly world-class beers. Today we want to share a few with you. Not literally, of course, though we wish we had some to literally share…
To be fair, it was difficult to pick just 10, and there is no doubt we missed trying several excellent brews. However, from what we were able to enjoy (and remember) these beers are true gems, and we’ll seek out next time we visit the Treasure State.
10 Amazing Montana Craft Beers
Here are our favorite 10 beers from 2019 Beer Now Conference visit, listed in no particular order.
Mountain Man Scotch Ale
Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Co
Great Falls, MT
During our Beer Now Conference, Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Co was nice enough to host us for drinks and dinner in their Great Falls production brewery. That’s when we finally gave in to Montana’s peer pressure and had a Scotch Ale. Typically, we’re not big fans of the style, but you know who is? All of Montana, apparently. Seriously, nearly all the craft breweries in Montana seem to make a Scotch Ale. It’s a big deal up there. We’re happy that we caved because we thoroughly enjoyed Mountain Man Scotch Ale from Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Co. They use Montana honey and just a touch of molasses that makes for a strong, sweet, and smooth brew.
Prickly Pear Pale Ale
Lewis & Clark Brewing Company
If you attended GABF last year, you may be most familiar with Lewis & Clark Brewing Company for winning big at the competition. They took home three medals and the Small Brewing Company and Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year. While their Miner’s Gold Hefeweizen has all the golds (it received gold medals in 2018 at GABF and World Beer Cup) it’s the Prickly Pear Pale Ale that we really loved. It was a refreshing beer full of tropical, citrusy, somewhat floral flavors and aromas. Is that what a cactus tastes like? We don’t know, but we loved the Prickly Pear Pale Ale.
Look for Lewis & Clark Brewing Company at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival, where they are expected to pour this beer & several others.
Vieux Bois Gueuze-Inspired Wild Ale
Bozeman Brewing Company
We knew nothing about Bozeman Brewing Company when we arrived in Montana, so imagine our surprise (and delight!) when we found out they have an excellent sour program. With over 250 barrels it’s the largest in Montana. Vieux Bois Gueuze-Inspired Wild Ale #2, fermented and aged in French and American Oak barrels, is as good a gueuze-style beer we’ve had anywhere. It was hard to believe this beer was born in Montana, and not Belgium. This was such a delicious brew.
Tangerine Cream Ale
Black Eagle Brewery
Black Eagle, MT
We enjoyed getting to learn about Black Eagle Brewery during our conference. Black Eagle’s Brewer T.J. Carlson attended a few of our sessions and talked about what makes Montana beer so amazing. (Hint: it’s the amazing water combined with their locally grown barley malt). Black Eagle made a couple of really great beers, but if we had to pick a favorite, it was the Tangerine Cream Ale. Their Mocha Porter was a close second, but the Tangerine Cream Ale seems perfectly suited for sunny Montana summer days. It was light, bright, and citrusy.
Literally translated, Bayern means the German state of Bavaria, which is where Bayern Brewing’s Owner Jurgen Knoller and Brewmaster Thorsten Geuer first learned to brew. Bayern Brewing makes beers in the tradition of Bavaria which follows the German Law of Purity (Reinheitsgebot). While we’re not sticklers for tradition, we did appreciate the incredible flavor in Bayern’s Rauchbier. Smoky without being “too smoky” with just a hint of caramel. The style may be from Germany, but the taste made us long for cool evenings around a Montana campfire.
Located in North-Central Montana, Vizsla Brewing is a small family-owned operation that just opened in the fall of 2018. Though they may be small, they are definitely mighty. Vizsla Brewing won the 2019 Montana Brewery of the Year title at the Montana Brew Fest. All three of their entries won gold medals. Not too shabby for a new brewery. While all their beers were excellent, we fell in love hard for their Bichon Saison. It was a light yet funky farmhouse beer that worked especially well when paired with a mild cheese. Though we didn’t come home with a picture of the beer, I think you can guess from the photo of Vizsla’s big & fancy trophy above that it was worthy of being on our list.
Look for Vizsla Brewing at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival, where they are expected to pour this beer & several others.
Bent Nail IPA
Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company
Red Lodge, MT
According to their website, Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company makes super delicious beer because they have great, soft water and use Montana-grown barley. While that’s definitely true, but we’ve got to give a little credit to their hop selections, too. Their Bent Nail IPA is full of incredible aroma and flavor thanks to plenty of delicious cascade hops. It has a nice, balanced citrus aroma and flavor without being overly bitter. It’s a great all-around IPA.
The most exciting beer of the whole trip came from a small town in northeastern Montana, just 10 miles from the North Dakota border. Meadowlark Brewing’s Fungus Shui beer totally blew our minds. Defined as a “mushroom dessert ale” this beer was nothing we expected and everything we wanted. Fungus Shui has all the aroma and rich, sweet flavor of maple syrup, but there’s no maple syrup in this beer. The luscious sweetness is from Candy Cap mushrooms. This golden-colored beer has a strong maple aroma, rich maple flavor, and finishes with just a touch of curry… all from mushrooms. Does it sound weird? For sure. Did it taste weird? Not at all! It’s deliciously decadent, even if it’s gastronomically confusing. We want more.
Chardonnay Barrel Aged Saison
Philipsburg Brewing Co
Apparently, the folks at Philipsburg Brewing Company are overachievers. They took what is undoubtedly already an awesome beer, their award-winning French Saison, Ropeswing, and made it awesomer. They aged their classic French Saison for eight months in French oak chardonnay barrels. The result is a delicious, oaky saison that was fizzy and flavorful. We had it paired with a fabulous triple-crème brie, and suggest that if you can try this beer, you do the same. C’est magnifique!
MAP Brewing Company
Hop heads that we are, you know we had to include one more IPA on this list. MAP Brewing Company‘s Midas Crush was hands-down one of our favorite IPAs in Montana. In fact, we’d put this great beer up against IPAs from anywhere else for that matter. This West Coast Style IPA was easy-drinking and flavorful, with notes of citrus and tropical fruit and just the right amount of bitterness. At 6.9% ABV, it’s not technically crushable, but we were big-time crushing on this great MAP Brewing IPA. We enjoyed it with some French Comté cheese, as you can see in the photo above. Oh, if only you could taste it, too. The pairing, like the beer, was delicious.
How Did We Do?
Did any of your favorite Montana breweries make our list? If we missed your favorite, we may not have tried it during our visit. We tried to drink them all, but we’re only human after all! Share the details with us in the comments below or send them to us on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll be sure to add your recommendations to our list of beers during our next Montana adventure!
Did all this talk of Montana beer make you want to pay them a visit?
Good! You should totally check out Montana. With great beer and endless opportunities for adventure, we’re sure you’d also fall in love with Big Sky Country. Check out our article about visiting Great Falls and start to plan your Montana Beercation!
We attended the 2019 Beer Now Conference in Great Falls as bloggers and received a discounted registration fee in consideration of writing a post about the conference. The subject matter was ours to choose. In short, all opinions and recommendations are ours alone and were in no way influenced by this discount.