The historic building housing Havre’s Old Station Brewing Company used to be Heltne’s Gas & Service Station. Located on the edge of Havre’s downtown area, the building sat empty for years.
As a youngster growing up in Chinook I remember seeing Heltne’s, a quirky angled building which seemed retro way back then. As the years passed I decided it was rather iconic looking but it still remained vacant.
Steve Neifer had a dream though, and now that building is bustling with seekers of craft brews and a relaxing time.
It was a beautiful late fall day with plenty of bright sunshine and puffy white clouds when I stopped at Old Station Brewing. I was running late because of construction on the highway which I didn’t expect, certainly not this late in the fall. It looked like an after-work crowd was trickling in to the brewery so I hurried in to catch up with some friends.
Old Station Brewing seemed so much larger than what I remembered the old gas station. I scanned the décor and instantly sensed the history. An old gas pump decorated the east wall of the seating area, salvaged brick interior walls created a warm feel, and salvaged bricks with “Havre” embedded in them were inset throughout the brewery’s new floors.
We ordered at the counter after scanning through the 10 beers on tap.
Several brews have regional names. Saddle Butte Porter, listed as “the beer that started it all”, was the choice of one of my friends. First of all, there really is a butte near Havre that looks like a saddle and this was the beer that spawned the idea of a brewery. Saddle Butte Porter has 15 IBU, 7.5%ABV. As owner Steve Neifer gave me a tour of the brewing area he let me taste the raw grains that create the coffee and chocolate taste of this porter.
Another order was for a Bullhook Pale Ale, named after Bullhook Bottom, an area about 7 miles southwest of Havre. With an IBU of 34 and ABV at 5%, this single malt, single hop pale ale tasted refreshing.
Twisted Axle IPA is a nod to the old service station once housed here. It’s not for the timid taster with an IBU of 72 and ABV at 6.0 although the menu said it was a surprisingly easy drinking IPA . Big hop flavor and aromas of citrus and tropical flowers in this beer come from the brewery’s two favorite hops – Citra and Mosaic.
One of my friends ordered a photo-worthy Raspberry Wheat brew. Real raspberries give this beer a fruity flavor and a bit of a reddish glow, especially when held near some incoming sunshine. I could really taste the fruity flavor with the few sips I had of this.
Other brews on tap included Full Service Blonde Wheat (easy drinking with a bit of citrus from Amarillo hops), Old Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale (a hint of caramel and toffee with a whisper of peat smoke), Unpredictable Ale (a seasonal brew that I liked), Golden Triangle Wit (from the brewmeister…don’t expect the Americanized version of this) and Old Station Amber (an easy drinking amber).
A local food truck provides casual meals and every Wednesday is Trivia Night at Old Station Brewing.
Check out their Facebook page for information about music and other events that may be scheduled.
Steve said he is continually on the lookout for more antique gas station items and I suspect there will be another old-time gas pump rounding out the décor the next time I’m there.
Old Station Brewing is located at 140 1st Street in Havre, just off US Hwy 2 as it passes through town. They are able to
serve beer until 8pm and stay open until 9pm to fill growlers and allow patrons to visit.