We talk a lot about breweries these days and we are used to seeing those shiny barrels, lots of tubing and piping, typically behind glass panels, as we sit and sip one of our favorites. Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Company’s business model is a bit different, in a good way.
Jeremiah’s primary goal is production and they refer to their location in Great Falls, Montana as a production facility. Beer is brewed there, canned and kegged there and shipped to the ever-expanding list of distributors for placement on grocery store shelves, kegs for taps at breweries and even small kegs for events, receptions and backyard gatherings.
The day I was at Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Company’s production facility it was hopping (no pun intended). They are currently in the top 10 production facilities in Montana for the capacity they produce. The largest part of their business is the canning line.
I watched the canning operation and I was mesmerized. Those cans come down the line, get filled with beer and on goes the cap. It was the easiest and smoothest looking process but I suspect if one thing goes wrong, it could be a mess.
When I first met Jeremiah (yes, his name really is Jeremiah Johnson) he was working at an economic development organization. In January 2018 he and his wife Katie became the owner of Jeremiah Johnson Brewing. Their flagship beer, Mountain Man Scotch Ale, received a Peoples Choice award in 2018 for Best Scotch Ale at a brewers rendezvous in northern Idaho. Not bad for the first one out of the chute!
Golden Bobcat Pale Ale (you might need to be familiar with Montana universities to understand the name) appeared in 2018 to celebrate Montana State University’s 25th anniversary. Six additional canned beers have worked their way into the lineup since then.
I sampled a canned Vanilla Porter which is definitely not one I would have ordered at a brewery. Dang, it
was tasty! It has Madagascar vanilla to give it the flavor. Ironically, that vanilla flavor develops more after it rests in the can. I also sampled a Vanilla Porter fresh from the canning line, no lid yet, and I could barely detect the vanilla. It seems like the flavor should have been stronger before the final canning process but it wasn’t. This product is kegged all year, canned in the fall.
More trivia I learned – standard fermenting time for most beer is two weeks, but it’s 30 days for lager. Each can has an SRM number (standard reference method) which is tied in to the beer color. The FG number is the final gravity and it refers to the product’s density compared to water. This is a wine term too, something that I’ve never noticed on a beer can or wine bottle. A regular sized keg holds 15.5 gallons which equals 7 cases and is called a half barrel. Oh, the lingo these brewmeisters have!
A few other popular beers in Jeremiah Johnson’s lineup include Honey Weizen, Imperial IPA, Citra IPA and Blonde Ale.
As distribution increases, the production facility will ramp up production and they seem to have the space to accommodate that. Currently 75% of their production is in cans, 25% in kegs.
I’ve talked with a lot of brewers and toured several breweries. Each time I learn more about making beer.
Jeremiah Johnson is focused on production and you can find their beers in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. By time you read this they may have picked up another state or two! They have also ventured in to their own pub with both food and beverage in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Get in line to try your favorite Jeremiah Johnson beer at a local brewery or look for the canned product in most grocery stores and convenience stores.