There is no shortage of reasons to visit Missoula, MT. And while you are there, you can’t forget to check out the city’s robust craft brew scene. Separating the best from the rest is no small task, so we found a beer from the best local breweries that our taste buds can’t forget and have all of the hoppy details prepared for you.
After extensive research–and testing–we found 7 Missoula breweries particularly hard to forget.
They include the following:
- Great Burn Brewing
- Tamarack Brewing
- Highlander Beer
- Draught Works
- Bayern Brewing, Inc.
- Imagine Nation Brewing Company
- Conflux Brewing Company
Keep reading to find out more!
Great Burn Brewing has been a staple in the Missoula craft beer scene for nearly a decade. Named after deceased brother Chad Howard’s experience working in the Great Burn Wilderness during the 1990s, the name “Great Burn” encompasses the ruggedness that Chad thrived on exploring the wilderness and fighting fires in the area.
In honor of brother Chad’s adventurous spirit in the Great Burn area, one of the brewery’s flagship beers is the aptly named Smoke Chaser Porter. Said to evoke feelings of sitting around a campfire in the summer, the beer uses smoked peat and roasted malted barley to give this distinctive porter a chocolatey finish that is the perfect cap to a night of summer fun.
For those beer connoisseurs looking for a sports-bar-like atmosphere with decidedly un-sports-bar-like beer, Tamarack Brewing is the place to be. Located in downtown Missoula, this two-story facility offers:
- A pub environment
- Replete with televisions and games
- A more laid-back lounging area above
- Overlooking historic Caras Park and Clark Fork river
- Provides its share of scenic vistas
Among the wide selection of craft beers on tap, you can’t go wrong with the Sip N’ Go Naked Apricot Wheat Ale. With a sweet apricot aroma and balanced fruit experience, this flagship beer won Tamarack Brewing the prize for Flathead Valley’s Best Beer in 2020.
Highlander Beer has been modernized to appeal to the tastes of the Northwest adventure seeker and craft beer junkie. This brewery features:
- Fishing trip
- Camping expedition
- Stylish taproom
- Expansive outdoor patio
- Pavilion situated perfectly against the flowing waters of Grant Creek
- Weekly music
- Artisan pizza
- A selection of 12 beers on tap
Standing out from the crowd on tap is the Conundrum Sparkling Ale. Inspired by German Sekt wines, Highlander uses a sparkling golden ale base blended and fermented with Sauvignon Blanc wine grape must and a higher carbonation level to create a crisp finish. Packing a punch at 8.2% ABV, this draught is a little bit beer, a little bit wine, and one big conundrum.
It is hard to go wrong with a brewery that has been voted Best Brewery by Best of Missoula for five years running. At the heart of Missoula’s historic Northside/Westside neighborhood, the brewery’s wrap-around patio with garage doors leading to the taproom is Missoula’s favorite place to relax and enjoy live music every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
As far as the beers, there is no risk of getting tapped out at this local favorite, with a selection of nearly two dozen beers and hard seltzers on hand. While singling out one is a tough task, the “That’s What She Said” cream ale is a favorite among Missoula denizens, noted for its light, slightly sweet flavor that makes for easy drinking and peaceful relaxation.
Owner and master brewer Jurgen Knoller has been bringing his Bavaria-inspired brews to the Rocky Mountains for 35 years via Bayern Brewing, Inc. Using Bavaria-level sophistication during the brewing process, in accordance with the German Law of Purity of 1516, you will not find any of these in Knoller’s brews:
- Artificial carbonation
- Other strange ingredients –just malted barley, yeast, hops, and water.
The result is unprecedented authenticity in an exploding craft brew scene all too frequently compromised in the name of innovation.
In the spirit of Germany, if you can get to Bayern Brewing in late August through early November, finishing an Oktoberfest should be at the top of your checklist. Brewed with Munich and German Dunkel malt, the result is a classic Bavarian Dark Marzen that perfectly blends sweet, malty, and hoppy flavors.
If you are the kind of craft beer enthusiast who enjoys the human spirit, Imagine Nation is the brewery for you. A community-oriented microbrewery steeped in the collaboration of the world’s many great brewing traditions, Imagine Nation aims to confront the critical challenges of our time and support people on their transformative journeys via the power of brewing.
As you can imagine, there is no shortage of eclectic brews at Imagine Nation. At the top of the list, however, is the Liminal Space All Mosaic New England IPA. While rooted in the traditional mosaic T90, cryo, and a wide range of other mosaic crops and harvests to enhance complexity, resulting in a beer that is far more nuanced than you would expect from a single-hopped beer.
Conflux Brewing has become a downtown Missoula staple. As its name implies, it is a convergence (conflux) of:
- Great beer
- Montana-inspired comfort food
- Promoting the spread of sustainable business practices through its brewing
Conflux is designed to run on solar to help the company limit its resource consumption while yielding the highest quality craft brews possible.
Although it is not on tap year-round, the “Wait a Tick” sour plum is a beer you absolutely must try. A sour ale brewed with White Christmas Tree tea sourced from the Lake Missoula Tea Company and fermented with a generous amount of Mirabelle Plum puree, this tart taproom favorite will cause you to pucker just enough to pique the interest of everyone in your party.