A Beer with Baucus in Missoula


On April 11, fellow beer blogger, Alan McCormick from Growler Fills, and I had the chance to meet with Montana’s Senior U.S. Senator, (and now U.S. Ambassador to China), Max Baucus, at Missoula’s newest brewery, Draught Works.

Baucus is no stranger to helping Montana’s breweries, as he chairs the Senate’s bipartisan Small Brewers Caucus. This effort is aimed at supporting brewing in Montana, thus creating good-paying jobs.

As the state with the second highest number of craft brewers per capita in the country, Montana is set to be a role model for brewery growth. Brewing in Montana, for further reference, utilizes over 5,000 retailers spread over 24 different states.

In 2010, Montana brewers manufactured and packaged over 88,000 barrels (2.7 million gallons) of beer in pints, bottles, cans, and kegs. Montana breweries employ over 250 Montanans, and they use over 5.6 million pounds of malted grain (half of which is grown in Montana). Currently, Montana has 34 registered breweries in the state, with two more expected to open in 2012.

Along with Baucus, there were three other high-ranking beer supporters, Tony Herbert, Executive Director of the Montana Brewers Association (MBA), Josh Townsley, Vice President of the MBA and owner of Tamarack Brewing Company, and Robert Pease, COO of the Brewers Association, based out of Boulder, Colorado.

Ryan Newhouse and Alan McCormick with Senator Max Baucus.

Ryan Newhouse, Former Senator and now U.S. Embassador to China, Max Baucus (at center), and Alan McCormick from Growler Fills beer blog.

These advocates of craft beer are working together to elevate the economic opportunities presented by small brewers, especially as craft beer sales continue to grow and increase market share in the national beer market.

From a recent press release from the Brewers Association, Robert Pease states, “We are proud that [Baucus] is such a strong advocate for Montana brewers and small brewers nationally, and we are looking forward to working with him on Congressional legislative efforts that will ensure America’s small brewers continue to thrive and contribute to our nation’s economy and job growth.”

In response, Baucus states, “Small breweries are engines for our economy and use Montana’s world-class grains to create delicious beer and good-paying jobs… In Montana, we’re home to more small breweries per capita than almost anywhere in the nation, and it’s important to make sure they have the tools they need to thrive. Montana’s small brewers make great beer while contributing to their local communities and we’ll keep working together to support these important jobs.”

More beer and more jobs in Montana? Sounds like a combination we can all enjoy.

We’ll keep an eye on the work Baucus puts in at Capitol Hill with co-chair Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) as they stand up for issues important to small brewers in Montana and around the country.


Thirsty for more? Missoula’s beverage expert, Ryan Newhouse, has plenty on tap: Family Friendly Fridays at the Top HatGet Your (Bar) Game on in Missoula, and The Best Bars for Celebrating a Birthday.

Looking for a local bar or pub? Check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

   Visit the Drink It Missoula archive.


Ryan Newhouse knows good craft beer.

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