Raising a Glass with Friends, the Original ‘Social Network’

By Ryan Newhouse

January 17 marked the 305th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. Had he still been alive, he would have likely had two things at his birthday party – folks from The Guinness Book of World Records and a pint of his favorite beer. Franklin was famous for many things, but for those who enjoy brewing and consuming beer, the one (and probably only) quote we can recite of his is, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” which he penned in his famous Poor Richard’s Almanac.

By the time Ben Franklin died, beer-making was a standard practice in most households. One could hardly call it an “art,” as it was done mostly to make water potable and provide nutrients for hardworking people who spent their days in the fields. Factory work wasn’t prominent until the 1800s, but I’m sure those workers also enjoyed a beer or two after a day’slabor.

In fact, sharing a pint of brew with friends after work would grow to be big business over the centuries. Last year, Montana earned the #1 spot in the country for “Most Beer Consumed” per capita at an average of 43.7 gallons per person, 21 years of age or older, per year. Doing the math, that comes to just over one beer a day every day of the year!

But if you want to share your “daily beer” with some interesting folks or for a great cause, Missoula offers a few unique opportunities on a weekly and monthly basis. Call it our local “social network,” if you will.

The Missoula Downtown Association (MDA) hosts a monthly “Downtown on Tap” for its members, at various locations. On January 25, MDA members will meet at Ten Spoon Vineyard and Winery to mingle and learn more about growing certified organic grapes and producing sulfite-free wine in Montana.

Kettlehouse Brewing Co. hosts a Community U-Nite every Wednesday at its 1st Street (Northside) taproom. Each week a different local non-profit organization is supported and $.50 of each pint sold during 5-8 pm is donated to the organization. Come early, as often these events fill the taproom and people have to wait to get in.

Missoula’s Sustainable Business Council (SBC) hosted “Green Drinks” every 2nd Wednesday on the month in 2010 at the 501 Lounge (upstairs in the Iron Horse). The SBC hasn’t posted yet when or if the series will continue in 2011, but keep an eye on their website for details. The “Green Drinks” was a social hour for those who are passionate about the environment to meet up for a beer and share ideas. Each informal meeting had a co-host, a local group or non-profit that shared its mission and progress with the attendees.  Back to  “Drink It” home page.

Click here to see Ryan’s “Drink It”archive.

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Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is a full-time writer, husband and parent (in no particular order) and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for WildGame.