Friday, August 3, 2012

Happiest Hour: Montana closes in on most breweries per capita

Posted By on Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Montanans like craft beer, and having neighbors few and far between. That’s not news. But this is: We now rank No. 2 in the country in breweries per capita, behind only Vermont, with one for every 30,919 Montanans.

Illustration by Pumpernickel Stewart
  • Illustration by Pumpernickel Stewart

Based on 2011 counts, Montana’s 32 breweries pushed the state from No. 3 to No. 2, surpassing Oregon, according to the national Brewers Association.

“I’m extremely pleased,” says Montana Brewers Association Director Tony Herbert. And, he says, “I think we’re on the way to catching Vermont...if we add another three or four breweries.”

That's looking likely. At least two more breweries have already opened in 2012—Uberbrew in Billings and Wildwood Brewing in Stevensville. Phillipsburg Brewing Company will open in a few weeks, and Desert Mountain Brewing Company in Columbia Falls and Bridger Brewing Company in Bozeman are slated to begin pouring this fall.

Bowser Brewing Company in Great Falls, Higherground Brewing Company in Hamilton, and Draught Works in Missoula all opened their doors late last year.

“We have a very good, strong craft beer industry going on, don’t we?” Herbert says.

The growth reflects national trends. According to the Colorado-based Brewers Association, there were 367 more microbreweries in 2011 than 2007, an 87 percent jump. That was one stat included in the “State of the Craft Brewing Industry” presentation the Brewers Association director gave in San Diego in May, when he announced Montana’s No. 2 position. Check out this PDF of the presentation for more stout numbers.

Naturally, this news calls for a pint.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail editor@missoulanews.com.

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