Posted: Jun 15, 2013 7:57 AM by Tim McGonigal - MTN News
Updated: Jun 15, 2013 7:58 AM
GREAT FALLS - Toby Shannon and JJ Olson of Helena are on the last leg of a behemoth of a beer run across the state of Montana.
Shannon said, "It's going to be, by the time we get to Helena, 1,900 miles, 34 breweries and a guy's house."
Their ale-induced adventure is calle the Ultimate Brewfest, and they wound up in Bowser Brewing Company in Great Falls this week.
Shannon explained, "It started with that map, we just looked at it and just decided, Montana is kind of a big circle, let's see if we can do it."
But there's a lot of turf between taps in Montana, and the geography presented a challenge.
Olson said, "The biggest problem was hitting the eastern side of the state. Wolf Point and Wibaux, because of the situations and the hours, it was very tough, limited time-wise to get there. So we knew that was going to have to be done in the first day."
They said the hospitality in those small eastern Montana towns was second to none, and whenb they headed back west, the breweries became more bountiful, each with its own special charm.
They also made an unscheduled stop at a home brewer's house in Kalispell.
Olson said, "We figured, home brew, nothing big, the guy's got a bit of a setup in his house. He's got like a 16-gallon set up so its basically like a keg with the top cut off and he's boiling and he's got his own grains. He had a bourbon porter that was super smooth."
On days when they visited multiple breweries, the guys enlisted the help of a designated driver.
They say they'd love to do it again, but would make some changes on a subsequent suds tour.
Shannon said, "You know a week is plenty of time, but I probably wouldn't do more than 10 or 15 breweries, just so you can spend some more time."
And while the guys quenched their quest for Montana's many microbrews, they also gained even more respect for the Treasure State's entrepreneurial spirit: "Not just are they using local product, but they're refurbishing these historic buidlings. Like Lewis and Clark down in Helena which is kind of our home base. They spent two years re-doing a building that had to be a hundred years old."
Olson says his favorite beers on the tour were Head Trauma Pale Ale from Angry Hank's in Billings and a Czech pilsner from Red Lodge Ales.
You can keep up with their journey on their Facebook page.