The breweries of Billings, Montana
Craft beer and microbreweries are exploding in popularity in the United States — a trend I couldn’t help but notice while visiting Billings, Montana, this past summer. Within a 1.5-mile, walkable loop through downtown, craft beer drinkers can hop among six breweries and three distilleries.
During my trip, I made it my personal mission to visit as many of these breweries as possible. It wasn’t an easy feat since many breweries are restricted to serving patrons only between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. due to Montana’s laws. Plus, I had a full itinerary of Billings Mustangs baseball games and day trips to picturesque and quaint Red Lodge, Mont., and Yellowstone National Park.
I’m happy to report I made it to three out of six breweries — and that includes one distillery, too.
The sleek, dark bar inside this modern, industrial-looking brewpub is tended by friendly and — more importantly — knowledgeable staff. Patrons appeared to mostly be locals gathering with friends for happy hour, which ran from 1 to 6 p.m. with most beers costing $3 — a dollar discount. But, a spot at the bar for one of the beers made on site and a bite to eat is more than welcomed for visitors, too.
Uberbrew | 2305 Montana Ave., Billings, MT 59101
Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co.
With the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Johnny Cash streaming through the vast garage of Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co., this laid back microbrewery and gin-and-vodka distillery has a chill vibe. Shelves holding beer bottles collected by the owner from all over the U.S. — and quite possibly from around the globe — adorn the walls. On tap are award-winning brews such as the smooth Grizzly Wulff Wheat, selected in 2003 as one of “America’s finest” by Playboy. Home to my favorite of the Montana beers I’ve tasted — the Huckle Weizen, a sweet wheat beer made with huckleberries — Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. also forced me outside my wheat ale comfort zone. I tasted the full-flavored Black Widow Oatmeal Stout on nitrogen. It was silky smooth but dense with an upfront coffee flavor that mellows to a chocolatey malt. It is the only stout I’ve ever enjoyed. Note: This is one of the breweries/distilleries that is only open between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Spirit of Montana Distilling — Montana’s first micro-distillery — has a separate tasting room also located inside The Garage.
Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. | 2123 B 1st Avenue North, Billings, MT
Montana Brewing Company
One of the few spots in town serving late-night food, I hit this popular watering hole for dinner after a Billings Mustangs game — as did some of the minor league team’s staff and players. Again I ordered a fruity wheat beer. At this point, are you really surprised? The late summer seasonal draft was a cloudy wheat beer with chunks of strawberries in it. It was unique and quite filling. For dinner I ordered the delicious grass & hay, a linguine pasta with artichokes, mushrooms and garlic in a light cream sauce and topped with fresh spinach leaves. The menu also features soups, salads, mac & cheese, burgers, flatbreads, pizzas and sandwiches among other dishes.
Montana Brewing Company | 113 North Broadway, Billings, MT 59101
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- Day Trip: Yellowstone National Park
Wish you were here,