Saturday, March 28, 2015
What's New in the New West

Montana Microbrew

Will More Snow Mean More Dollars for Lodges and Resorts?

Lodges in ski towns are getting fuller, even if hoteliers aren’t necessarily getting richer as tourists continue to pick over the market for bargains. At Incline Village, on the shores of Lake Tahoe, bookings are tracking up 10 to 15 percent compared to last year at Vacation Station, a collection of 100 cabins, condominiums and rental homes. Reservations had dipped 35 to 40 percent two years ago. But profits have lagged, says Don Cauley, general manager. “We are giving up revenue in order to get people to come back,” he tells the Northern Nevada Business Weekly. “We are recovering somewhat, but we are nowhere near where we were two or three years ago.” Snowfall will probably push or drag the rate of recovery. Read More »

Revenue Department Prohibits Taverns from Filling Growlers

As you may remember, the Montana Department of Revenue (DOR) created a little uprising among Montana brewers and craft beer fans last year by issuing--and then rescinding as controversy erupted--a proposed administrative rule that would've forced brewers to close instead of stop selling beer at precisely 8 pm. (If interested in the details on how that controversy turned out, click here.) Welcome to the sequel, sort of. Read More »

All Hoppy Talk at the Second Montana Brewers Festival

The second annual Montana Brewers Festival held September 10 in Bozeman was a big success, again. So says me. I was there and saw it happen. But more officially: "That was the biggest festival ever in Montana as far selection of beers goes," said Tony Herbert, executive director of the Montana Brewers Association (MBA). "We had 72 beers on tap, all Montana-made beer, from all 21 MBA member breweries. Basically, it was a great event." Read More »

The Political Party We Really Need

We've all heard about the Tea Party and its politically conservative approach that blames government in general and Democrats in particular for all the nation's problems. Now, in response, we have the Coffee Party emerging to applaud more liberal views, such as viewing government as merely an expression of our collective will, so it sort of seems like it should be named the Espresso Party. Anyway, it already has 350 coffee shops signed up in 44 states. Now, I'm hearing rumblings of another new political party starting up, one that might really solve the many troubles that threaten to sink the greatest nation on earth, the Microbrew Party. It doesn't have a website yet, or staff, promotional webcasts, offices, or anything formal, so lots more news to break in coming months, but here's what I've heard so far. Read More »

Black Star Cometh

UPDATED 11 am, January 19: See footnote at the end of this article. On February 6, the Montana beer market is getting a major shake up and a new big player. An old standard is coming back courtesy of a rare combo between a mega-brewery and a small craft brewery. The Great Northern Brewing Company of Whitefish will be re-introducing the Black Star brand after a seven-year absence from the marketplace. The release is in partnership with none other than MillerCoors, America's second largest beer-maker--or largest, if you consider Anheuser-Busch, recently purchased by InBev of Belgium, a foreign brewery. Read More »

First Brewers Octoberfest a Hoppin’ Good Time

For craft beer lovers, Bozeman was rocking Friday night, October 23, when about 900 people crowded into exhibition buildings at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds for the first-ever Octoberfest sponsored by the Montana Brewer's Association (MBA). All seventeen brewery members of the organization were on hand featuring their favorite brews, 54 choices in all, and since I was among the 900, I can testify to the fact that the crowd loved every minute--and every ounce--of it. Read More »

Catching Up with the Beer Beat

True confession time. I've been remiss lately, fishing way too much and ignoring the beer beat, which means I have some catching up to do. And there has been a lot going on, such as…. Read More »

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door in Wibaux, Montana

Have you ever tried to convince yourself that you had a bad idea; that wouldn't turn out as planned; might even be dangerous; and definitely wouldn't be fun. That's how Gene Colling and I were feeling as we inched into Wibaux, Montana. We were on our way to Minnesota for some muskie hunting, and I'd convinced Gene we should take the opportunity to see the only microbrewery I hadn't visited while doing my Microbrew Montana Series last year. He agreed, somewhat reluctantly, and I had to admit, the first impression wasn't great. Wibaux, population 481, like thousands of small prairie towns, looks a little rough around the edges as it tries to find a way to survive. But those concerns vanished as soon as we walked through the door of the Beaver Creek Brewery. Read More »