HELENA -- With over 90 active breweries in Montana, there's a lot of current history regarding beer in the treasure state, and the Montana Historical Society is also showcasing Montana's brewing history that date's back to the late-1800s. Though COVID-19 has closed the Historical Society's brick and mortar location, those interested in the history of 'suds' in Montana can learn more about it online with the Montana Historical Societies interactive map, here.
Though Montana's beer history spans across three centuries, breweries didn't just hop up out of barley fields, according to Eve Byron, public information officer for the Montana Historical Society, they were imported.
“Historically we've been able to trace them back to the early mining days prior to Montana becoming a state," said Byron. "You would have the folks coming over from Europe and they would come to the mining camps.”
From Libby to Baker and everywhere in between, Byron says the Historical Society checked the barrels of history through and through while compiling this exhibit, but even then there still might be a pint hiding somewhere.
“That's the known unknown. Some of those things that, you don't know, what you don't know," said Byron. "There could be all sorts of great stories that we haven't been able to tap into yet, so to speak.”
The exhibit is shut down right now, but Byron noted that there's much more to Montana's Brewing history than can be seen online, in the 'Good Beer Here' exhibit.
“We have a lot of items in our collection that are historic items, right down to the mint bar in Great Falls where Charlie Russell used to like to go in. We have the swinging barn doors as part of our exhibit, and as well as as the utensils and things that they used. It was a whole different world back then,“ said Byron.