Oh, Montana. Home of the big skies, grizzly bears, mountain men and...microbrews? Though most east coast states, like Vermont, are used to a microbrewery on every corner, the western states are only starting to catch up in comparison. Most think of Colorado, Oregon, or Washington beers when reminiscing of their favorite lagers, but it turns out, Montana’s long winters provide the perfect outlet for brewers to practice their craft.
Being a much younger state to the nation, Montana has always liked to live by its own rules. Drinking, gambling, outlaws and other illegal sports have regularly run rampant throughout history. It is no wonder that it was the first state to announce that they would not continue enforcing prohibition laws!
Most of the Best Things to do in Helena Usually Culminate in a Brewery Visit
Reminiscing back, Helena and other such gold rush pop-ups were sure to have had a multitude of beer makers from all backgrounds throughout the years. We’ll unfortunately probably never know the true extent of homebrewers and bars that actually thrived here though due to the underground aspect of such activities at that time. Luckily, our breweries today most certainly pay tribute to their ancestors, like the oldest in Virginia City, The Gilbert Brewery, founded as far back as 1863! Though most certainly not the same as those unique beer garden saloon-style locations or original craft breweries that sprouted directly from german brewers back in the day, the cities various beer artisans have outdone themselves in creativity. Our variety and favorites welcome guests from across the country on a daily basis. With entertaining music, trivia, open mic nights, and more, you are sure to find your favorite in every Montana town.
Recognized as a "Small Brewing Company of the Year" by the Great American Beer Festival, Lewis and Clark Brewery stands for everything the early explorers imagined. As some of the first beer pioneers in the capital city, Lewis and Clark Brewing boasts a solid foundation of favorites and an endless supply of seasonal rotators. Sold and recognized throughout most of the state, visiting the brewery, or “taproom” as it is referred, is always an event. Forever expanding to become bigger and better, anyone driving by would either likely dismiss the large structure as a warehouse or factory, while those in the know brave the multitude of crisscrossing streets to make their way inside and through to the back, where a great stage and outdoor beer garden awaits. Hosting well-known acts from across the country, the outdoor area is perfect to hang out with friends on a warm summer evening.
If you can’t make it in summer though, no worries, the indoor space is worth a visit too. With two stories both opening up and overlooking the indoor stage, they regularly host game nights and local acts, as well as pool and other bars games.
Be sure to bring a growler for their discount fill nights and to call ahead or look at the schedule beforehand though, sometimes they just fill up fast!
Right in the middle of Helena’s historic Last Chance Gulch, the perfect day either starts or ends right here, at the Ten Mile Creek Brewery. With an open floor concept, as well as some cozy window seating, the patio is the perfect spot to while away an evening and people watch the downtown wanderers.
Built and brewed by locals, Ten Mile is a smaller brewery with only 7 barrels. However, this gives them the ability to do a little experimenting in what they call “a somewhat organized community.” This means that they really get the chance to shine when it comes to those looking for unique tastes. A visit here every month or so WILL ensure that you find something new to try.
What is really unique about this spot is its focus on “local” production. From the timber bar tables and wall hangings to the Montana stream supplying the water to make beer, these guys will make you feel right at home and supportive of what it means to be a part of this great community.
Blackfoot River Brewing Company in Helena is one of a kind, literally. Unlike most modern-day breweries that are using the most up to date techniques around to provide the best quality beers, bottles, and cans, these guys take it back to traditionally local and brew beer, not for money, but flavor.
Beginning back in 1993 when the now-owners decided they were going to brew their own favorites, the beer magic began with an interest in learning traditional methods. Instead of just creating their favorite types of beer from the most commonly used ingredients, they took it a step further by utilizing and experimenting with different types of yeast strains, malts, and hops. This isn’t the most common practice in modern-day brewing as it takes more time, effort and money to create one batch of beer and to perfect that specific strain. They took their time though, and with the encouragement of beer-loving friends and family, they branched out and expanded their knowledge to eventually create the perfect brews that one will find here today.
Originally, their home brewing parties were enough of a hit around the neighborhood that they started to think that maybe they should open a brewery. The idea was many years in the making, but because of the way it was formed, as a local gathering of friends, it turned into what they are today, a community place for everyone to enjoy a true craft brew and to meet more like-minded folks.
Interestingly, they are still unwavering in their passion to keep their beers as flavorful as possible by only sourcing the best ingredients they find, despite the time or money it may take. Still unfiltered and never bottled, visitors and true beer lovers have to stop in this one-of-a-kind location to enjoy a truly unique and flavorful draught beer.
Moving from the barns to the brews, Copper Furrow Brewery is an idea developed by a handful of friends that realized their love of beer brewing and decided it was about time to turn it into a business.
One of Helena’s newer locations, a couple of the brewers grew up farming the fields within 100 miles of their now busy brewery. Originally named “Crooked” Furrow in reference to the planting of seeds, the name was recently changed to “Copper” after one of the brewers with a Butte, Montana background, but that doesn’t give it any less of the local farm-like aesthetic they were aiming for. With the sickle as their logo and rustic barn wood from their ranches used throughout the brewery, the place is meant to be a cozy gathering joint to chat and gather while enjoying delicious brews.
Though they’ve all been brewing for quite some time, the selection is always rotating as they continue to test and produce better batches regularly. A wide selection is found here with an ingredient mix including everything from specialty hops from across the ocean to local products sourced directly from the fields they tended for years. Whatever your flavor may be, a beer around their fire pit-filled patio is hard to beat on any occasion.
The newest of the Helena area breweries, Missouri River just recently made its opening debut after delays mainly centered around 2020 events. Though technically located in East Helena, the drive isn’t far from town, and a most likely stop for those passing through on the main highway.
The owners of this new location have been planning their brewery dream for years now, and the thought and effort shows. With a steampunk-industrial type feel, everything from the copper bar top to the ductwork has been carefully thought out to fit with the fun beer drinking vibe.
Not only are these guys uniquely versed in a variety of beer brewing styles, but they also used this knowledge to create their own brewing system from the ground up. A two-story building with a long bar and outdoor space, the location features 24 taps with a variety of options and seasonal rotators. Always trying new things, the entire platform is designed to brew everything from small sample batches to large commercial barrels. Even before they opened the brewers were already working with neighborhood restaurants to add their beers to the local taps, and the reviews have been good!
Whether passing through or a local, the new place is expected to be a great addition to the growing East Helena community.