Ryan Newhouse tasted his first Montana-made craft brew as a college student after driving through Billings on his way to Yellowstone National Park.
The lifelong beer lover was spending a summer volunteering at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and although drinking wasn’t allowed during the summer, Newhouse stowed two six-packs of Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co.’s Grizzly Wulff Wheat and Wild Fly Ale to taste when he got back home to Tennessee.
Something about the beer – and the state – stuck with him.
Since moving to Montana more than 10 years ago, Newhouse’s love for the state’s craft brews has grown along with the industry.
Montana has 38 breweries that support a multimillion-dollar craft brew industry, all of which Newhouse chronicles in his book, “Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country.”
“Essentially, its Montana’s first guidebook for breweries,” Newhouse said. “Montana is such a tourist-driven state, we’ve got incredible wildlife, lots of things to see. We have a guidebook for everything else, now finally we’ve got something for the breweries.”
“Montana Beer” will be available July 30 at most local bookstores. It will also be sold online as an ebook. Signed copies will be available at montanabeerbook.com.
South Carolina-based History Press approached Newhouse about writing the book for its popular American Palate series.
The recent boom in the state craft beer industry makes it a perfect time to release a book dedicated solely to Montana beer, Newhouse said.
Montana has welcomed a multitude of new breweries each year in the past five years, making it the state with the third most breweries per capita.
“People are really into sampling craft beer and beer tourism is a growing industry,” Newhouse said. “Now is the time where a book like this can be a stand-alone and it doesn’t have to be tied to mountain biking or recreation. There are enough personal stories at each of the breweries that they warrant their own mention.”
Since tasting his first Montana craft brew, Newhouse has traveled extensively, sampling craft brews along the way. He is the founder of Montanabeerfinder.com and is a regular contributor to Alan McCormick’s Growlerfills.blogspot.com.
Newhouse is also a Cicerone certified beer server and member of the North American Guild of Beer Writers.
“Montana Beer” includes interviews with founders, owners and brewers of every brewery operating in the Montana. Along with the inside stories from each brewery, Newhouse writes about popular beers at each site and lists hours of operation for each brewery.
The book also includes history of craft brewing in Montana, which goes back 150 years.
Newhouse also writes about the contributions Montana makes to the global beer industry as the No. 1 barley-producing state in the U.S.
Montana provides the barley for some of the largest beer manufacturers in the nation and is home to the largest malting facility in the U.S., Newhouse said.
“My goal was to teach anybody who read this book. I wanted to teach them something new and unique about each brewery in the state. Give a little insider information that helped them connect to the brewery,” Newhouse said.
For the millions of out-of-state tourists who visit Montana each year, “it would be something that would educate them on our craft brew industry and let them know they might be near one,” Newhouse said.
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the founder of the Senate Bipartisan Small Brewers Caucus, wrote the forward to “Montana Beer.”
“Montana is demonstrating that there’s no limit to what we can accomplish when we combine our world-class work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit with some of the finest grains on the planet,” Baucus says in the forward.
Newhouse hopes this first edition of “Montana Beer” won’t be the last. If he learned anything while writing the book, it’s that the craft brew industry in Montana is continuing to thrive.
“I was always asking (the brewers), ‘Where do you go next?’ Newhouse said. “And honestly (the answer) was ‘the sky is the limit.’ ”