I'm guessing many visitors to Montana are quite surprised to find such a thriving craft beer culture. With 25 +/- breweries at any given time for a state with fewer than one million people, it is a bit hard to fathom. And guess what? I'd hazard a guess there's room for more. Breweries, that is. Montana's brewers have shown they can thrive through a variety of business models, some with popular and busy tap rooms and keg sales, but no bottling, others that cater almost exclusively to keg sales and bottling, and many with a combination of everything. Some have taken the leap into canning their premium brews believing, correctly, the craft brew drinking population is sophisticated enough to recognize cans are not inferior to glass as a beverage delivery device.
Great Northern Brewing in Whitefish is celebrating its 15 year anniversary and invites everyone to take part in the celebration on February 6, 2010. I received this nifty poster via e-mail this week with the details. As an added incentive they'll be releasing the return of Minott's Black Star Double Hopped Golden Lager, eight years after it was last brewed. You can read the details on the re-release of Black Star over at Grizzly Growler here and here. I remember drinking Black Star Golden Lager when I arrived in Montana back in the 1990's and am anxious to taste it again. Great Northern also produced a Dark Lager version which I quite enjoyed, though it has also disappeared. There do not appear to be any current plans to bring back the Dark Lager, but I did put in a plug for its return. If you find yourself near Whitefish on Saturday, Feb. 6, stop by and take part in the fun.