Back on October 30, I posted an article about the rise in Montana breweries, bringing to 46 the number of breweries operating, or under construction. It is a bit hard to believe, but it’s already time to update the list again.
When I updated my list less than two months ago (see the side bar on the right, scroll down), I added Mighty Mo Brewing Co. (Great Falls), Lolo Peak Brewing Co. (Lolo), Meadowlark Brewing Co. (Sidney), and Bonsai Brewing Co. (Whitefish) as breweries under construction. I’d already had Kalispell and Butte on there for quite a while.
Mighty Mo opened on December 6. Lolo Peak’s construction is moving along rapidly and they’ve announced a cool contest for homebrewers. Great Burn Brewing (Missoula) is making good progress with construction as well. Bonsai announced recently they intend to open on January 2, 2014. Canyon Creek has beer in the tanks, but is not yet open. Kalispell Brewing continues to inch toward an opening (see page 9 in the link, and page 10 for news on Bonsai and Great Northern).
Not long after I posted my October article, owners Brice and LaNette Jones announced the start of construction of Katabatic Brewing Co. in Livingston. The Montana Brewers Association announced a new member yesterday, Cabinet Mountain Brewing Co. in Libby. Cabinet Mountain is in the process of getting their space and equipment lined out and I’ll add them once they’ve secured a site and renovations begin.
Dillon remains a hotbed of rumors. A commenter to the October article pointed to an effort to open a brewery called “The Range” there. (The Montana Agriculture Development Council denied a request for grant funding for The Range in February 2013). Readers in Helena recently sent an email noting they’d seen signs in a building on Dillon’s Main street announcing the future “Beaverhead Brewing Co.” Indeed, an internet search reveals a current branding effort for the brewery.
As an aside, have you noticed names beginning with the letter “B” are by far the most popular in Montana? (Bayern, Beaver Creek, Big Sky, Bitter Root, Blackfoot River, Blacksmith, Bonsai, Bowser, Bozeman, Bridger, and Butte.)
On Monday night the Missoula City Council approved a conditional use permit for the new comic book-themed Ice Bridge Brewing Co. to be located at the corner of East Main and Pattee streets in downtown Missoula. Owners Mark and Meg Gorseth plan to produce a variety of barrel aged Belgian-style beers along with IPAs, porters and the like. The building will also house a distillery (a relocation of Flathead Distilling to Missoula – to be renamed Montana Distillery) and a restaurant along with outdoor seating at a very underutilized corner of downtown.
Another future Missoula brewery (which will bring the number to seven) has purchased brewing equipment. I’ll have much more news on that one once they have secured their lease.
As with our last update, I still haven’t added Big Medicine Brewing (Missoula’s eighth), because I’m not aware of any construction work beginning. I’m still leaving Kettlehouse as one entry in the list, though it is now two separate breweries. Desert Mountain Brewing in Columbia Falls is still there, but I’m inching closer to taking it off. It is temporarily closed and up for sale.
After all that, I’ve only added one new link to the list, Katabatic, though several of the above will be added once construction begins. With Mighty Mo opening, we now have 39 operating breweries. (Again, you can add one for Kettlehouse, but remove one for Desert Mountain). I’m not sure what Yellowstone Valley plans to do with the old Bones Brewing space, so that is not reflected in the list either. Eight more are known to be under construction and at least three more intend to begin very soon.