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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."

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.”

Herbert said about 1,400 people showed up to sample Montana’s finest craft beer, about 500 more than last year.

Will it be in Bozeman again next year? “We haven’t decided that yet,” he answered, “but our sense is to do it again in Bozeman. The Bozeman community has been great to deal with.”

Four New Breweries Cometh. “In the next year, we should have 3-5 new breweries coming on line,” Herbert told NewWest.Net while taking a well-deserved break at the festival. One of them, Missouri Breaks Brewing in Wolf Point, is already open. Just in case you happen to be in Wolf Point, Montana’s newest brewery can be found at 326 Main Street. (Click here for website, here for the map link.)

I called and emailed Missouri Breaks Brewing trying to get a few more details, but no callback or reply yet. So, more later on this one.

And, with two new breweries coming soon, it looks like Bozeman Brewing Company will be getting some local competition and that Bozeman might make a run at Missoula to be Montana’s Beer Town.

The first will be called 406 Brewing and be located at 101 East Oak Street, right across from the fairgrounds. “I’m hoping to close on building in mid-October,” owner Matt Muth told NewWest.Net, “and be ready to open late November or early December.”

He plans on producing a variety of beers based primarily on “listening to my patrons” to see what they want. “Ill have a nice little tasting room, and I’ll have an oven to bake spent-grain fresh beer bread every day.”

He also plans to offer more food later–“a small menu with local foods and fresh produce.”

The second new Bozeman brewery will be called Bridger Brewing and be located somewhere in downtown Bozeman, announced co-owner David Breck, but it won’t open until sometime next year.

“We’re still in the planning phase,” Breck told NewWest.Net. “Right now, we’re pursuing a couple of locations and trying to find a fit in downtown Bozeman. We don’t have a brewery in downtown, and that’s a problem we want to fix. We want to do a full restaurant and brewery centered on the theme of the Bridgers and the outdoor lifestyle of Bozeman.”

The fourth new brewery will be Wildwood Brewing in Stevensville, which will make seven brewers in the Missoula area (counting Hamilton and Polson), one (Kettle House) with two locations, plus two more with “branch offices. (see below). I haven’t been able to get in touch with the owners of Wildwood, yet, so again, more later on this one.

Brewery branch offices? Interestingly, at least four Montana breweries have opened or plan to open tasting rooms or restaurants in other cities to serve their craft beer and extend their brand, but not produce any beer on the new premises.

Almost a year ago, Neptune’s Brewing of Livingston opened The Dock in Bozeman to not only serve its fine beers but also Thai, Indian and Cajun dishes for lunch and dinner…Tamarack Brewing will open a new restaurant in Missoula similar to their place, The Rack, at Lakeside “in a couple of months,” according to brewmaster Craig Koontz, on the site of the former Whitewater Grill on Front Street….Flathead Lake Brewing’s new owner Greg Johnston’s daughter Sandy will open Flathead Lake Brewing of Missoula in the near future to not only feature all Flathead Lake’s brews but other Montana craft beer….And finally, Harvest Moon of Belt is still trying to find just the right place in Great Falls, but co-owner John Ballatyne tells me they don’t have any projected schedule for the new place.

Marketing coup? The marketing prize of the festival probably goes to Beaver Creek Brewing, perhaps Montana’s smallest, but certainly not least creative and least aggressive, brewery. At the festival, Beaver Creek Brewing was selling panties, in black or pink, imprinted with their unforgettable (forgettable?) slogan: Our Beavers Taste Better.

“Back at the taproom in Wibaux,” said owner Jim Devine, “we sold out the first order in five days.”

Sales weren’t quite as hot at the festival, though, even though Devine kept assuring female patrons that “our beer tastes better if you have our panties on.”

You gotta admire somebody who takes marketing risks, eh? And that’s not all. “We’re doing a calendar this year, too,” he announced.

What’s in it? I asked, foolishly. “Girls in our panties, of course.” answered Devine.

Hmmm. I guess I said enough about that one.

SHORTIES: Lone Peak Brewing of Big Sky now has an all-beverage license, so it stays open and sells its beer until 10 or 11 pm “on most nights,” says owner Steve Nordahl…Lone Peak is also starting to can its beer in what I call “microbrew packs,” 16-oz cans in four-packs, like Kettle House does, but unlike Big Sky and Harvest Moon that have opted for traditional six- and twelve-packs of 12-oz cans….Helena’s Lewis and Clark Brewing’s big expansion and move into a new location in Helena has been, according to owner Max Pigman, “pushed back to March or April”….Lewis and Clark also has a new head brewer, Sean Tobin, who moved over from Helena’s other brewery, Blackfoot River Brewing….Beaver Creek Brewing of Wibaux has opened an outdoor patio and is in the midst of its third expansion in less than a year….Blackfoot River Brewing’s popular Firkin Thursdays (no that is not a typo) have been expanded to three days (Wednesday-Thursday-Friday)….Travis Zeilstra, long-time award-winning brewmaster at Montana Brewing in Billings has moved down to Sheridan, Wyoming, to start his own brewery called Black Tooth Brewing. Good luck, Travis; we’ll miss you. You made some great beer, especially that Stillwater Rye…Zeilstra said he decided to open his long-planned brewery in Sheridan instead of Montana because it is not only a great place for a brewery, but he does not have to put up with Montana’s absurd laws….Evan Taylor who moved over to Billings from Silver Moon Brewing in Eugene, Oregon, has replaced Travis…Bitter Root Brewing of Hamilton has expanded its distribution to the Spokane area….Quarry Brewing of Butte has just expanded its taproom to fit more people and its taps so it can put up to seven beers up at the same time…..Quarry also now has made Sunday its “Growler Day”–refills for only $6.

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