Most Americans have not been to Montana, a state that might get a little forgotten. The flipside is that most Montanans don’t like to leave there for too long and are very proud of their amazingly beautiful state. Since Montana is so vast and has a relatively small population, the distribution of craft beer is limited mostly to Montana breweries alongside the big craft brewers and a few from neighbouring states. This might be why craft beer has been a little slower to take off than in its more populous neighbours, Washington and Oregon. They may have been slow off the mark but they are definitely up and running now. At the start of last year Montana was ranked fourth for number of breweries per capita with 6.5 per 100,000 people. I would not be surprised if that ranking rises this year.
Having enthusiastic beer-drinkers that are newish to craft beer it is the classic styles that do well, with flagships being amber ales, brown ales and wheat ales. Having said that, the heavily-hopped culture is also definitely alive and well in Montana. The craft beer there speaks of the people and their country – beautiful and uncomplicated. Beers are named after local mountains, rivers, towns and animals. Salmon Fly Honey Rye has a catch to it, as does Moose Drool but maybe not in the same way.
The people of Montana are honest, kind and hard-working. Snow sports are popular in winter whenever the weather permits and as soon as the sun comes out it is off to the trails for hiking and biking in some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. Montanans love their state and enjoy the outdoors more than most people I have seen. With this in mind, canning craft beer is just a no brainer. Light to pack in and lighter to pack out, it is the perfect outdoors option. In one supermarket I was in I would guess that 75% of the craft beer was in cans.
Most of the craft beer that is drank in Montana is made by someone from Montana and designed to be enjoyed in Montana. They are no slouches though; I was proud to hear the state name called several times at the world beer cup. I can only see the scene growing and becoming stronger as it matures.