I just returned from my annual spring trip to Montana. There are a of couple things you may or may not know about Montana. First, it is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth. Second, Montana ranks second in the country in breweries per capita.
Montana is God’s country. I always return to the Fatherland in April or May to visit family and to do some work on my property on the Yellowstone river. Upon my arrival, just like springs past, I was greeted by a western meadowlark (the state bird) perched on the top of a post marking the entrance to my property. He was singing the standard meadowlark song. It is a soothing melody that is slightly different from the meadowlarks down here in Colorado. They love the wide-open fields and must nest around the area this time of year. And as my father and I drove closer to the river, we spotted a large, mature bald eagle circling above the Yellowstone. It was certainly looking for a trout to snack on. We never saw it catch anything, and it eventually landed in a large cottonwood on the bank and watched my dad and I plant a couple new trees.
After three days of work at Walhalla, I finally made it into Billings for a Saturday afternoon/night out. I mentioned that Montana ranks second in the country for breweries per capita. The state has 27 breweries, or one for every 35,800 people, which is pretty impressive. The only problem I can think of is that it would be difficult for an enthusiast to visit them all without quit a bit of time. (though I recommend it if you have time) It is a state the size of the unified Germany, but with 1/80th the population. So it is a sparsely populated state, but quite large. For example, if you wanted to visit the Beaver Creek Brewery in Wibaux, and then hit the Lang Creek Brewery in Marion, you’d have to drive 730 miles.
Mike at Carter’s does an excellent job, both brewing, and serving his beers in his taproom after a hard day’s work. It is a small brewery, but the patrons have the privilege of speaking to the person that brewed the beer they are enjoying. And to ask questions if they have them. It is a great way to educate people about one’s product. Mike had 12 beers on tap, which is quite impressive for such a small operation. I won’t list them all, but I’ve included a picture of his offerings. As you can see he proudly displays the IBU and alcohol content of his beers. It is always a treat when brewers do this. Carter’s has all of the staples, but they are becoming known for their specialty Belgian beers. Mike does a lot of experimenting with wood and various wild yeast and bacteria. So if you like wood and funk with your beer, head to Carter’s. His Abbey Ale was delicious, and he also occasionally bottles a 750ml Saison that is a real treat. One final note about Carter’s, he is one few brewers to consistently offer a Mild. It is a great beer, albeit ramped up a bit to suit the American palate when compared to its counterparts across the pond. I only have one complaint - I wish he’d server the Magic City Mild out of his beer engine!
here is a list of the breweries in Montana. Just in time for your summer vacation. (Yellowstone Park, Bozeman, Billings, and some beer anyone?)