www.brewingnews.com Billings continued from cover 3 as the central corridor for the city’s unofficial walkable brewery district. The 1.5-mile route will take you by the six downtown breweries, two dis-tilleries and the cider house. Montana Avenue is soon to be home to a hop fence, a five block stretch where the hop-lined fence will form the back-drop to interpretive signs describing the history of Billings, while figura-tively connecting the breweries. known as one of the hardest working brewers anywhere. Despite being a one man show on the brewing side, Uhrich manages to keep an aver-age of sixteen beers on tap, many of which have introduced Billings’ beer lovers to styles rarely seen at any brewery. Even the space screams hard work, with barrels and kegs stashed in all corners of the cramped tap room and brewery space. Railroad spikes form the handles of the sample trays, honoring the active rail lines located a few feet past the nar-row outdoor deck. From an hibiscus sour to an hommelbier and plenty of saisons to IPAs, making choices is the only difficult part of a trip to Carters’. This selection is why local homebrewer and all-around beer fan Damien Leonard likes to start his brewery district adventures at Carters’. “Mike is a powerhouse of beer selection and flavors,” says Leonard. “He has one of the best menus in town and is always pushing the limits. His one man show never gets old and is always changing.” Angry Hank’s Street Fighter Imperial Red is one of the most popular beers in Billings Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co. sits at the northeastern end of the route and features one of the city’s most popular places for live music. The brewery also makes the mash for its sister company and neighbor, Spirit of Montana Distilling. From there it’s a short walk to the Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill, created by Sam Hoffman, the owner of Red Lodge Ales in nearby Red Lodge, Montana. In addition to local cider, the Pub serves all Red Lodge Ales’ beers. A few steps further brings you to Überbrew, where the award winning beer is matched by excellent food in a space that oozes comfort. Within eyeshot just down Montana Ave. is Carters’ Brewing where owner Michael Uhrich is Thirsty Street Brewing Co.’s warm, inviting space stays busy at the newest brewery in Billings Continuing along Montana Avenue to the next stop will take a little longer, but brings you past the Western Heritage Center, part of Billings’ growing art and culture scene. After taking in the stories of the peoples of the Yellowstone River Valley and Northern Plains at the Center, the tour takes you to Angry Hank’s Microbrewery. Named after a grumpy family friend, it’s the second location for this popular brewery, hav-ing started in 2005 in a renovated service station less than a half mile away. Angry Hank’s Street Fighter Imperial Red ale boasts the most craft tap handles of any beer around the city. At the tap room, you’ll find flagships on tap, including the Street Fight, Anger Management Belgian Wheat , Head Trauma IPA and Dog Slobber Brown , along with several rotating seasonals. The brick, steel and wood of the converted garage creates a comfort-Carter’s Brewing’s railroad theme carries able interior while the outdoor over to its sampler trays featuring a rail-patio is a great place to kick road spike as a handle back and rest up for the last two stops on the tour. days. It seems everyone is friends Fortunately, you can practically here, and it’s clear that’s no accident. roll to the next one. Thirsty Street Ron started homebrewing in Brewing Co. shares a back wall with 1999 and was “the homebrewer Angry Hanks. everyone knew would someday go Like all Billings’ breweries, Thirsty pro,” said one Billings’ brewer who Street is a lively place where finding has been in the business a long time. a table or bar stool can be a chal-Ron is also a whiz at welding and just lenge at times. The warm, inviting about everything else mechanical the space often hosts live music on the brewery needs. weekends and has a game room with Canyon Creek’s Scottish ale is a shuffle board, billiards, and darts for crowd favorite, but beers range from any day of the week. a malt liquor and lemonade shandy to Thirsty Street is increasingly a gose and a variety of IPAs. experimenting with sour beers, most recently offering two versions of a sour golden ale aged in French oak chardonnay barrels, one dry hopped with Amarillo hops and the other dry hopped with Jarrylo hops. The Dawsons opened Thirsty Street in the space that previ-ously held Himmelberger Brewing Co. Dennis Himmelberger was the first to open a modern era brewery in Billings, doing so in 1994 when Montana had only a handful of brew-Carter’s Brewing uses every inch eries. of its small space to keep 16 beers Himmelberger was also a state on tap representative in the Montana Legislature and was instrumental in helping change the state’s brewery A Destination for Beer laws in 1999 to give breweries the and Much More right to sell beer for on-premise con-“Billings is uniquely positioned sumption. to offer city amenities and wild The final stop of the walkable adventure alongside amazing out-brewery district is Montana Brewing door recreation,” says McCandless. Co. which bills itself as Montana’s “From here you can access some most award-winning brewery. Its list of the most significant Western his-of medals from prestigious competi-tory, Native American culture, moun-tions like the Great American Beer tains, plains, the Yellowstone River, Fest and World Beer Cup make that Yellowstone National Park, and so boast hard to argue with. much more.” The always-packed pub space And great beer, of course. “It’s is a favored food stop in Billings and become an expected part of the rotating seasonal beers compliment local scene, something people are the brewery’s flagships like Custer’s excited to be part of and love to Last Stout . connect over,” notes McCandless. It’s Friday night and the place is packed, a regular sight at Canyon Creek Brewing Company , the only Billings brewery not located in the city’s downtown. Other brewers cautioned owner/brewer Ron Kalvig about choosing Billings’ west end to locate his brewery, but the crowds have deemed such words foolish. A storm has chased the crowd off the sizeable outdoor patio, past the fire pits, and through the garage doors to the large taproom inside. Ron and his partner, Dianna Walker, hold court at the end of a long day, visiting with patrons as they do most The Outlier “People want to try out all the brewer-ies, compare notes on experiences, and return for favorites or to try new brews.” “The breweries make for a great place to gather with friends and enjoy the culture that craft beer creates,” says Dawson. “Each day a new customer walks in and each day the breweries are converting theirs tastes to something close to home, locally-made with quality ingredients, and recipes by small business owners.” Be sure to mark Billings down on your next beer travel list.