Although any season is a good season for a local brew, fall is perhaps the best. Oktoberfest-style beers typically have higher alcohol content, but these days the name refers to almost any beer of the fall season. There are almost 30 microbreweries in Montana that can give you that special taste of autumn; here’s a sampler of what you’ll find around the region.
Bozeman Brewing Company (504 N. Broadway Ave., Bozeman) has been delighting beer-drinking locals for years with its signature Bozone beers, including the light amber Bozone Select. Brewmaster Todd Scott produces a couple seasonal ales, including a spiced pumpkin ale made with organic pumpkin purée and Belgian yeast. It was inspired by the company’s brewer, Bill Hyland, who hails from the East where pumpkin-flavored beers are hugely popular. The Bozeman Brewing Company also produces a Harvest Fest, which is a spin on an Oktoberfest-style beer.
406 Brewing Company (101 E. Oak, Bozeman) opened its doors and taps earlier this year in a large space with lofted ceilings and an airy atmosphere. The 406 brewers are finalizing their flagship and seasonal recipes, but their rich Scotch Ale is a crowd-pleaser on fall afternoons.
Madison River Brewing Company (20900 Frontage Rd., Belgrade) is tucked away in an industrial strip near Gallatin Field. The brewery and tasting room are intimate and draw a dedicated crowd. Regulars may opt to join the Mug Club, which encourages regular draft sampling with a personally designed, hand-blown glass mug. Salmon Fly Rye and Copper John Ale are popular all year, but early autumn tasters will enjoy the Parachute Pilsner.
Neptune’s Brewery (119 N. L St., Livingston) has been brewing Belgian-style beer since 1998. In addition to five standard recipes, the brewery has a handful of seasonal recipes. Master Brewer Bill Taylor’s Neptune Octoberfest Lager, for example, is malty and hoppy with a bit more alcohol content than a typical lager. You don’t have to go over the pass to taste these brews, though: The Dock (806 N. 7th) offers all of Neptune’s beers on tap.
Lone Peak Brewing (48 Market Pl., Big Sky) offers its own Octoberfest only for a limited time and only on draft. Brewed in the fine Bavarian style, this brew has a full amber body, a malty flavor, and a clean dry finish. Employing their favorite pilsner malt from Belgium and authentic Bavarian yeast, this is a classic thirst-quencher for the fall season.
Bitterroot Brewing Company (101 Marcus St., Hamilton) is not exactly in the greater Bozeman area but is worth a detour if you’re heading toward Missoula. The dinner specials are paired with the beer, including the popular Sawtooth and Nut Brown Ales. The big and spicy Belgian Barleywine, with a 10.3% alcohol content, is sure to make you say, “Ya, das ist gut!”