Small Towns, Big Flavors: Exploring Central Montana’s Best Craft Breweries

Dotted throughout the small communities in Central Montana, a handful of quality breweries are making their mark, one pint at a time. A relaxing evening in the brewery can be an excellent opportunity to talk with locals, gain ideas for your next day’s adventures and make a few new friends along the way. Oh, and you’ll also get to taste the impressive offerings from some of the best beer makers in the country.

Start your adventure in Harlowton, the county seat Wheatland County, home to roughly 1,000 residents. It’s not unusual to see the barstools at Gally’s Brewing occupied by hardworking cowboys after a long day on the ranch. The family-owned brewery is housed in the former home of Harlowton’s Montana Bar, built in 1913. Now, you can stop in to enjoy Gally’s local handcrafted brews, including 1913 Porter, Five & Dime Blonde Ale and Hopikaze IPA. The brewery has a rotating events calendar including live music and beer bingo.

Fifty-seven miles west of Harlowton is White Sulphur Springs, another small Central Montana community with a rich Western heritage. With the slogan “Cheers to Montana-made beer!” 2 Basset Brewery nis founded on the simple pleasures in life: friendship, laughter and a good pint or two. Housed in what was formerly the local auto parts store, the charming brewery is owned by the Hedrich family and their two mascot basset hounds, Stanley and Leroy. Pop in for an Ambassador Cream Ale or a Bassito Hefeweizen.

North of White Sulphur Springs, the town of Belt is home to about 600 residents and the site of Montana’s first coal mine. Nestled in the streets of the rural community, Harvest Moon Brewing Company has been crafting beer for more than 20 years. Visitors are welcome to relax and enjoy samples in the taproom or take a tour and see the brewing process firsthand. Harvest Moon’s award-winning brews include Pigs Ass Porter, a dark ale, and Beltian White, a classic Belgian with hints of citrus.

Northwest of Belt, you’ll find Great Falls, which is known as the Electric City thanks to the hydroelectric dams that were built on the area waterfalls. It may be a bigger town by Montana standards, but it still retains that small-town accessibility, and you’ll find two of the region’s most prolific breweries busy at work. Mighty Mo Brewing Company draws its name from the nearby Missouri River, famous for its world-class fishery. Boasting “great beer, great food, great atmosphere and great people,” Mighty Mo features compelling daily specials and live music several times a week. The array of quality food includes handcrafted pizza and award-winning wings well balanced with a broad beer selection including Smoke Jumper Scotch Ale and Rising Trout Pale Ale. Located in the heart of downtown Great Falls, Mighty Mo Brewing Company is a solid all-in-one stop after a long day. Enjoy quality people-watching as the brewery is nearly always bustling with locals and visitors alike.

Formerly known as the The Front Brewing Company, the Jeremiah Johnson Brewing Company home to frosty pints inspired by the scenery of the Rocky Mountain Front that surrounds Great Falls. Stop by for a sample of heavy-duty Mountain Man Scotch Ale, or stay light with Keep Cool Creek Blonde, a blonde ale. Vanilla Pack Mule Porter is another favorite. It’s a short two and a half mile trip from there to the town of Black Eagle, where you’ll find the Black Eagle Brewery, another local favorite. Located in the same building as the Pit Stop Raceway Cafe, you can enjoy the beer there with a meal or sample in the taproom. It’s always brewing something new, but be sure to try staples like the SOS IPA or the Electric City Mocha Porter.

After exploring Great Falls, it’s time to head to the Hi-Line of Montana — U.S. Highway 2 crosses the breadth of the state, and the small towns dotted along the highway are known for their rugged resourcefulness. This is Wild West Montana at its finest, in the midst of the Great Plains and not far south from the Canadian border. Along this highway and near the Milk River rests the community of Havre, the county seat of Hill County, Montana. Home to cowboys and cattlemen, Havre hosts Triple Dog Brewing Company, an inviting, small-scale brewery. All the brews are handcrafted in Havre by brewmaster Michael Garrity and served with love in the comfortable taproom. The brewery boasts several award-winning beers, including Bears Paw Belgian Wit, Aberdeen Scotch Ale and 1857 Bohemian Pilsner. Local favorite Duck Face IPA reached an impressed 9.2 percent ABV, while Smorz Porter is popular in the long, cold winter months.

A trip to Central Montana isn’t complete without a visit to a taproom, and luckily, no matter where you go in the region, you aren’t too far from one of these small-town brewers creating world-class products.

Written by Jess McGlothlin for RootsRated Media in partnership with Central Montana.

Featured image provided by Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

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