Wide open vistas of green with dots of perfectly painted red barns, horses grazing in the fields, all surrounded by snow capped peaks and quaint craft breweries. Yep, this is Montana. Big Sky Country and home to this year’s BeerNow Conference, and on the way, the Bozeman craft beer scene.
The BeerNow Conference is the reason we left the warm southern states to head north, but it’s kind of a no-brainer. 1) Duh! it’s a conference for people who are in the beer journalism craft. (There are conferences for everything, including RV people like us. 2) It’s in Montana, and Montana has great breweries and views of heaven. 3) We have friends here – you know that connection we keep talking about around craft beer!
So, we headed to the Wild West and en route, we came across some breweries that deserve a mention and are definitely on our Stout Life Approved List.
Neptune’s Brewery – Bozeman Area
Located in Livingston, less than 30 miles east of Bozeman on I-90, this little gem offered a beach oasis in the midst of the chill that naturally comes from being surrounded by mountains. Neptune’s Brewery, complete with ocean decor, including a gigantic fish tank behind the bar, offered the ambiance that matched their slogan, “Drink Like a God”.
Knowing how to draw the locals in, they had a variety of good craft beers including the foundations like pale ales, IPA’s and the like. But they also had a Honey Rye, a Latte Stout, a Chocolate Porter, and even a Scottish Ale. What made us really feel at home here, though, were the locals. Conversations were as easy flowing as the beer. Oh, and did I mention that they have sushi?
Bozeman Craft Breweries
Heading into Bozeman with limited stash tucked away (money, fools), we only visited a couple of the breweries here. Normally this would have crushed our souls, but knowing that we would be enjoying many of these locals brews and more at the BeerNow Conference, we weren’t too worried about missing out. You’ll just have to check back for more reviews after the conference. I know I’m excited.
- Madison River Brewing Company (Belgrade – 11 miles NW of Bozeman on I-90)
- Bar 3 BBQ and Brewing (Belgrade)
- Outlaw Brewing Company (just west of town and teamed up with Bar 3 BBQ)
- Nordic Brew Works (just west of town)
- MAP Brewing Company (BeerNow Sponsor and Stout Life Approved)
- 406 Brewing Company (Stout Life Approved)
- Mountains Walking
- White Dog Brewing Company (changing hands – now closed, something new coming soon)
- The Bunkhouse Brewery
- Bridger Brewing Company
- Bozeman Brewing Company (BeerNow Sponsor)
At any rate, we found a lovely parking spot at Walmart, where it seemed there was a temporary RV park set up – we have never seen so many RV’s at a Walmart before. It’s nice to know you’re at home here. The best part of Bozeman Walmart – there’s a brewery about a half mile away.
406 Brewing Company – Bozeman
Walking into a newly developed area of Bozeman (one that actually has quite the history), The Cannery District, we found ourselves at 406 Brewing Company where they serve locally sourced food and beers while brewing community. Tucked in with several other business including a distillery, Wildrye Distilling, and a kombucha bar, Dean’s Zesty Booch, you might be tempted to spend your entire night here, if only Montana liquor laws would allow places like this to stay open past 8. They do not. Arriving at 406 just before 7, we didn’t get the chance to visit the distillery nor the kombucha bar, but if you are ever in the area, I recommend you do so. At least by sight only, these places deserve a visit.
With a Black Hop IPA and a Jamber (Red Ale) in hand, we sat down at one of the many community tables enjoying some live bluegrass music. Not striking up much of a conversation here with anyone in particular except ourselves, we sat back to relax a bit, enjoy some great brews in a beautiful Montana mountain town, knowing that the dreaded 8 o’clock hour was fast approaching.
Feeling like Cinderella when the clock hit 8, we reluctantly made our way back to RAIF. But all is well when you know mountain biking, camping, and being off the grid is on the agenda for the next 24 hours.
Supplied with Bozeman Brewing Company’s Plum Street Porter and Madison River Brewing Company’s Salmon Fly Honey Rye, we hit the trails the next day, but that’s a story for a future craft beer biking, so be sure to check back for some muddy adventures.
Wild Joe*s Coffee Spot – Bozeman
Heading back into Bozeman after being off the grid for a mere 24 hours, we had work to do. Wandering beautiful downtown, on another cloudy day – I think the sun took a vacation while we were here – we found ourselves in a cozy little coffee shop for some serious sit down, focus, and work time.
While most of our Stout Life Approved places is about the beer, this coffee shop definitely deserves a mention. Wild Joe*s Coffee Spot is Bozeman. You can’t go to Bozeman without going here. Located on historic Main Street with plenty of space for tourists, locals, hanger-outers, and need-power-and-wi-fi-internet-workers, along with plenty of options for great coffee, cookies called Compost Cookies made from the coffee, snacks, sandwiches and ambiance galore, this was the perfect place to tap away on the computer. Feeling quite productive after three hours of work, it was finally time to ditch the coffee for another Bozeman craft beer.
MAP Brewing Company – Bozeman
Looking for some live music, we came across MAP Brewing Company. Conveniently close to our trusted Walmart parking lot and a sponsor of BeerNow, it was an easy decision.
With burgers the size of your head, beer as delectable as the view is heavenly from the patio and expansive windows that look out upon the Bridger Range, this brewery is a must visit when heading into Bozeman.
In my touristy opinion, this place sums up Big Sky Country all in one building. With an outdoor, yet cozy feel, plenty of space to hang out with friends or meet new ones, MAP Brewing definitely makes it to the Stout Life Approved list. With names likes 80 Chain (an Oatmeal Stout), Dank Vader (an IPA), and Gravity Rider (a Marzen), how can anyone go wrong? Their beers are fantastic! And with varieties ranging from a Nitro Gose to cream ales, it might be difficult to stick to the state law of 48 oz per person per day here.
I guess that means you just may have to stick around for a few days. This town is not meant for a pass-through.
Just don’t tell anybody. Bozeman is a gem that nobody else needs to know about.
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Ken and April, craft beer and travel lovers. We live and work from, RAIF, our 24 foot RV, while traveling to drink good beer, visit Mother Nature, and mountain bike. We are not experts and don’t want to be. We are, however, tourists, just like you, and we want to do everything and visit everywhere. We also know that this is impossible (dammit – and wrote a post on it), so in order to help you experience as much as you can in the time you have, what we experience, we pass onto you. We hope to only give you guidance (although our friends say to never follow April), because you need to also create your own adventures along the way. Happy craft beer travels!