As hip college towns like Missoula flourish, a beer scene is never far behind. During my week-long Montana trip, I got to experience local brews from a few different angles.
On our first beer-themed excursion, we hopped aboard the Thirst Gear, which just started offering tours last month. Now Nashville has a Pedal Tavern, which is the same concept, but I’ve never been on one, so this was a first for me. Thirst Gear doesn’t yet have a license to serve alcohol, so you pedal to and fro the bars, which I actually preferred because I wouldn’t have been able to drink and pedal simultaneously—especially after a couple pints!
You don’t go very fast, and it’s pretty funny to be passed by cyclists, or even power-walkers, as if you were standing still while in reality you’re collectively pedaling your hardest.
It was a little more tiring than I expected—particularly up the hills—as the manpower is solely responsible for propelling the vehicle forward, though we never went far at any one time, usually just a few blocks this way to get ice cream at Big Dipper.
Or a few blocks that way to grab a cold one.
As we pedaled, we totally rocked out to the musical stylings of Michael Jackson, singing at the top of our lungs as the passersby gawked and took our pictures. Our guide said he’s pushing to use Thirst Gear for other offerings, like a morning spin class. How fun would that be?
The next day was also heavy on the pale ales and lagers as we joined Tap Room Tours, a brand spankin’ new local business, for a tour of the four breweries and one distillery in Missoula. In fact, we were the first tour for owners, Phil and Cate Mason, who had just retired from their other jobs to start the company. They served as both our drivers and guides and could not have offered a more fun-filled, informative outing.
This wound up being a great way to travel, as we were in a comfortable, air-conditioned van didn’t have to worry about drinking and driving, not to mention parking at each stop (at several of them, street parking was quite difficult to come by).
First stop was Big Sky Brewing, where they give out samples for free. I tried a couple and purchased a Moose Drool shirt for SVV because, well … moose drool.
Next up, we went to KettleHouse Brewing Co., whose award-winning Double Haul IPA was probably my favorite beer of the day. The Bongwater didn’t suck either.
We were all insta-fans.
Third, we went to The Draught House. We didn’t stay here long, but it had the best patio of them all, perfect for the hot summer days we experienced while in Montana.
The server brought out a platter of samples so we each could try an array.
The last brewery stop of the day was Bayern Brewing, Inc., a German microbrewery (the only of its kind in the Rockies). I love all things Bavarian, and this brewery was no deviation from the norm.
Even the mustaches followed suit!
Even cooler is that Bayern has an eco program that encourages consumers to return the bottles for a credit toward a case.
And then, as if we hadn’t had our fill already, our very final stop before returning to the hotel was at Montgomery Distillery, where they distill their own gin and vodka. We had a cocktail in the bar upstairs, then a private tour of the distillery below.
Whiskey is also in the works, so you know I’ll be making a pit stop back in Missoula again when that happens!