A great way to get a sense of what a town is really like is to bump elbows with its locals over a pint of beer. Listen to backpackers talk about their adventures on the trail, watch old cowboys mingle with college students, and ask the bartender about the different brews, many of which are named after certain intricacies of Montana. Distinctive breweries dot Big Sky Country—keep reading to discover the best across the state.
Kalispell Brewing Company
Another great brewery, not far from Whitefish, is Kalispell Brewing Company, the first independently owned craft brewery in the city of Kalispell, founded in 2012. Eat before you go because there’s no food in the tap room and if you have kids in tow, there are great non-alcoholic offerings to keep them happy. Order a Two Ski Brewski and taste a traditional-style German pilsner, a flagship craft beer. And when you see the owners, Cole Schneider and Maggie Doherty, a husband and wife duo, ask them about their former ski racing history.
Flathead Lake Brewing Company
Located in Bigfork, in northwestern Montana, the Flathead Lake Brewing Company has great views of Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the west. Enjoy a wide range of choices and order one of the 16 beers on tap, including Bluff Charge Pale Ale, Zero Day Double IPA, Two Rivers Pale, and Painted Rock Porter. The main floor has a dining area, with pub fare and great salads on the menu. When the weather is favorable, opt for outdoor seating to enjoy the scenery.
Big Sky Brewing Company
Located along the Clark Fork River, in western Montana, sits the second largest city in Montana: Missoula. Here, you’ll find the University of Montana and like many college towns, the brew culture thrives. Big Sky Brewing Company makes one of the most popular beers in the entire state: Moose Drool, an American brown ale flagship brew. Wildlife influences the beer label art work—there’s a fox on Raspberry Blonde, a bear on Summer Honey, a husky dog on Powder Hound, and a fisherman on Trout Slayer. Visit to see the brewery and tap room and maybe even take home a new hoodie or ball cap.
Beaverhead Brewing Company
Beaverhead Brewing Company, named after the original brewery in Dillon, which operated in the late 1800s and early 1900s, is located in a small town in southwestern Montana with about 4,000 residents. Like many breweries, Beaverhead Brewing Company began with an owner who developed a love for beer making from an at-home beer kit. Brett Maki was born and raised in Dillon and after learning the trade in Seattle, he came home to Dillon to start his own dream. Wordy beers here include Poindexter Pilsner, Whitetail Wit Bier, Beaver Slide IPA, Maki’s Pale Ale, Armstead Amber, and Pioneer Porter.
Lone Peak Brewery
Lone Peak Brewery in southwestern Montana makes small batches of quality beer in Big Sky. Come with an appetite and a hankering for good beer. What began as a small brewery with only six beers and a handful of bar bites has turned into 14 beers on tap, a full-service bar and restaurant, and event space for music, food festivals, comedy shows, and more. Order a Lone Peak Endless Summer, Hippy Highway Oatmeal Stout, or a Nordic Blonde and pinch yourself because you won’t believe your luck for getting to drink a pint in such a beautiful part of the country.
The Mighty Mo Brewing Company
In downtown Great Falls, a city in central Montana with a population of just over 58,000 people, sits The Mighty Mo Brewing Company named after the Missouri River, which runs right through town. Order the flagship beer, an American Wheat called Dam Fog, to go along with a slice of pizza. Check the website before you go as there are usually fun events on the horizon like live music or charity events.
2 Basset Brewery
Visit 2 Basset Brewery in central Montana's White Sulphur Springs to try Bad Bad Leroy Brown, an American Brown Ale; Breaking Basset, a farmhouse ale; Damn You Jack, a Mexican-style Vienna lager; or Dawg Days, a white IPA. The brewery is located in an old auto parts store, and there’s a certain charm to the ambiance that is inviting for all. And in case you couldn’t guess, the brewery influences are the Montana landscape and a pair of basset hounds (named Stanley and Leroy).
406 Brewing Company
Bozeman, home to Montana State University in the south-central part of the state, is where many breweries of note are located. 406 Brewing Company offers a mix of American and British lagers with around five beers on tap at any given time. Hops are picked locally. The tap room is full of antiques, like benches made out of old wooden beams and an old mill saw blade, from the historic Lehrking’s Bozeman Brewery, which was closed circa 1919 during prohibition. The overall feel is casual and comfortable, and it’s easy to spend a lot of time here enjoying a Big Blonde Ale or a Scotty Brown.
Bozeman Brewing Company
Bozeman Brewing Company is the oldest craft brewing joint in town, founded in 2001. The menu is full of ales, lagers, and seasonal brews: Bozone Amber Ale, Gallatin Pale, Haze Trip Hazy IPA, Sad Snowman Vienna-style Lager, Solar Power Super Bock, or EcoStar IPA. If you hear people around town saying that they’re headed to the Bozone, this is the place they are talking about. And if you’re a big fan of sour beers, you’ll be really happy here. As with most breweries in Montana, families are welcome so you can bring the little ones to this cozy tasting room.
Outlaw Brewing in Bozeman has some of the most fun label art in the state. Order a pint of Revolver IPA, Passive Aggressive Pale Ale, or The Gambler Amber Ale and enjoy the rustic atmosphere in the tasting room. Long tables are situated throughout, which encourage chatting with strangers, especially during live music performances. Enjoy weekly specials as well as food trucks when the weather cooperates.
If it seems out of place, you’re right—Neptune’s Brewery in Livingston, located in the south-central part of the state, has a sea-theme when there’s no sea around. Siren Song Honey Rye, River Nymph Golden Ale, and Knotty Lotte Latte Stout are on tap in this quaint and enchanting little brew pub that is a stalwart staple of the community. There’s a full-service casual restaurant here that serves up American fare and has a large raw sushi bar.
Busted Knuckle Brewery
Busted Knuckle Brewery in northeastern Montana's Glasgow is a small-town brewery with a tasting room. Owner Ben Boreson spent 30 years fixing up cars and when he was done with that, he turned the garage into a brewery. The space has large garage doors, tables made out of radiators and car parts, and brews with names like Radiator Dip Pale Ale and Rusted Nut Amber Ale. This place is unique, and you won’t find any other brewery quite like it.
Beaver Creek Brewery
Beaver Creek Brewery, established in 2008, is likely the most popular commercial space in Wibaux, Montana, a tiny town with a population of 589 people in the far eastern part of the state. The sister business, The Historic Gem Theatre and Pub, is located right next door and is home to live entertainment, a restaurant, and all of the craft beer you could dream of in an inviting space that has a large stage and plenty of seating. Both properties together are located inside renovated buildings from 1914, giving the experience a unique feel. The base malt of the beer is barley completely from Montana. Sample a Rusty Beaver Wheat Ale, Red Headed India Pale Ale, Paddlefish Stout Ale, Beaver Creek Pale Ale, Castor Mexican Amber Ale, or one of the seasonal beers on tap.
KettleHouse Brewing Company
Another great brewery in Missoula is KettleHouse Brewing Company, where the great outdoors influences the beer created. Beers here are brewed with Montana-grown and malted barley, hops, and water. The Myrtle Street location is the southside brewery where you can sample a pilsner or porter in the taproom. The northside brewery location (313 North 1st Street West) boasts an expanded taproom and brewery. In 2017, the Bonner Brewery opened as the newest member of the KettleHouse Brewing Company, located 5 miles east of Missoula. Try the Cold Smoke Scotch Ale, which has won awards and continues to be the most popular beer.