The list of places to pick up locally brewed craft beer in Missoula keeps getting longer.
Imagine Nation Brewing, a new brewery on West Broadway, and the Dram Shop, a new growler-fill station on East Front Street, opened their doors in March. Another large-scale brewery and pizza shop, the Missoula Brewing Co., is set to open on International Drive just off North Reserve Street by this summer.
Zach Millar and his wife Sarah recently opened The Dram Shop, a growler-fill station and tap room, at 229 E. Front St.
They offer a huge variety of beers – about 32 right now – from Missoula and around the world to go along with ciders, sodas and a selection of wines on tap.
“We’re the first draught wine account in Missoula,” Millar said. “It’s just catching on. I did a bunch of research on similar places, and this model is really popular right now in Washington, Oregon and Boise and wherever. They’re really popular all over.”
Millar said most growler-fill stations he looked into averaged 60 beers on tap, but they almost all admitted that they only used about 35 most of the time.
“I wanted to keep it manageable and also make sure we keep the beer fresh,” he said.
Millar knows Missoulians love good atmosphere and good beverages, and he wanted to make both available in a convenient location.
“My vision was to offer a family-friendly place that is similar in context to a brewery taproom that offers a wide variety of craft beer but not just craft beer – for non-craft beer drinkers, including nonalcoholic options – that is right downtown,” he explained. “It’s centrally located and we can offer people a lot of different stuff. Everybody loves taprooms because they’re fun to hang out in and there’s a lot of really good beer. Everyone loves options and variety.”
Millar worked with Paul Gladen, the director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana, to write his business and financial plans.
“He really helped guide me in a good direction on that and introduced me to people around town who could answer questions – accountants and lawyers – and who were willing to help an entrepreneur do it for little or no money,” Millar said. “He was great. If you are a UM student or an alum there’s no cost. It’s pretty cool for people who are trying to get something going.”
Millar bought his beer and wine license from a lawyer in Billings who had one from the old Liberty Lanes bowling alley.
“Beer and wine licenses are bought and sold on the open market, just like real estate, and one just happened to come up,” he explained.
The building, which was the old Missoula Mercantile Warehouse, also houses the Trail Head and the Pearl Café. In fact, the Pearl will be offering a “pub grub” menu so patrons at the Dram Shop can order things like beef chimichurri with Argentinean potato salad or fried oyster Caesar salads to go with their beer. Millar’s architect brother designed a classy but cozy interior for the space, and there is local artwork on the walls, plenty of sunlight, and a kid’s corner.
The Dram Shop is open Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., Friday through Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
For more information visit dramshopmt.com.
The Missoula Brewing Co.will be opening an 18,000-square-foot brewery, bottling facility, taproom and pizza kitchen this summer at 200 International Drive, just off North Reserve Street behind Karl Tyler Chevrolet.
The brewery is currently under construction and is owned by Bob and Shannon Lukes of Missoula, Marc Pierce of Bozeman and a small group of investors.
It will have 10 varieties of beer on tap to go with artisan pizza and salads. The brewery’s main purpose is to revive the famous Highlander beer brand, which was originally introduced by the Missoula Brewing Co. in 1910 at the base of Waterworks Hill and earned a reputation as perhaps the state’s most popular beer for more than half a century.
“When Interstate 90 came in, they took out the brewery by eminent domain,” Lukes explained. “So they moved to Seattle and it was made by the Rainier Brewing Co. until 1972.”
Lukes, a trademark and employment law attorney at Garlington, Lohn and Robinson, revived the brand in 2007 as a red ale made under contract with Great Northern Brewing in Whitefish, but his dream was always to have a full-fledged brewing facility here.
“Missoula is on the leading edge of the craft brewery culture in the Northwest,” he said. “We are so excited to combine new world flavors with the rich history of Highlander for the state’s craft beer enthusiasts.”
Lukes – who puts on the Missoula Celtic Festival with his wife – said he has a “great love of history and of beer.”
“I combined that into trying to revive this old brand of Highlander that was so important to this community for so many years,” he said.
The beer will be concocted by head brewer Gary Gagliardi, who earned his stripes at Stoudt’s Brewery, the oldest craft brewery in Pennsylvania. He will brew both lagers and ales – all named after Montana mountains – that will be available on tap or in bottles.
Lukes said there will be a big patio area out back to enjoy the cottonwood trees lining the banks of Grant Creek. Initially, they will have a 30-barrel brewing system and a 100-barrel fermenter tank system.
“It’s going to be a large-sized facility for Montana,” Lukes said. “We saw the great bulk of Montana brewers have started small and then moved locations. We decided to take on a couple partners and start a little bit larger. We will distribute region by region starting in Missoula, and down the road maybe move into other states.”
For more information visit missoulabrewingcompany.com.
Robert Rivers and his wife Fernanda Menna Barreto Krum opened Imagine Nation Brewing Co. at 1151 W. Broadway in March. They call it the “country’s first combination brewery and center for positive change.”
Their vision is for a community-oriented microbrewery grounded in the world’s great brewing traditions with a celebratory atmosphere. The purpose of the brewery, they say, is to “ support people in their own transformation so they are better prepared to authentically connect and transform the world around them.”
Right now, Imagine Nation offers six different beers on tap. The couple completely remodeled the old car dealership building across the street from the Poverello Center, and they are working on finishing a sun deck on the banks of the Clark Fork River.
The taproom includes a children's area and a community room that the couple hopes will be a “raining center where a common ground for sustaining social change in Missoula and beyond.”
One weekend a month, the brewery will host two-day, six-hour intensive events on subjects like mindfulness, facilitating coexistence and social cohesion, consciousness and conflict transformation, strategic peacebuilding at the community level and other subjects. With the cost of the trainings, which are offered on a sliding scale, participants will receive coupons for two free glasses of beer. The Center for Community Transformation will also be offered to organizations and businesses to hold meetings, workshops or presentations.
Imagine Nation is open from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed Monday.
For more information, visit imaginenationbrewing.com.