Blackfoot River Brewery
Blackfoot River Brewing was founded in 1998 by three passionate homebrewers and beer aficionados: Brian Smith, Brad Simshaw and Greg Wermers. But the seeds of the brewery were planted a few years earlier.
The year was 1993, an important year for Brian and Brad. That is the year they decided to give up drinking beer. Give up drinking bad beer that is. What followed was a couple of years of brewing like maniacs in Brad’s basement. Brian and Brad soon discovered that not only was it possible to make great tasting beer, but it was also great fun. And judging from the many friends who magically appeared on brew night it was easy to see that good beer and good friends were a good combination.
Now in a serious mode of homebrewing, the two decided that they wanted a way to get a good, reasonably priced, supply of malt, hops, yeast and other home brew items. The pair did this by opening Howling Wolf Homebrew Supply in Downtown Helena (over on Placer Street) in 1995. The biggest customers of the supply store were Brian and Brad, whose real motivation at the time was not to make money, but figured as a retailer they could buy malt & hops at wholesale! Soon Greg (another passionate homebrewer and all around fun guy) joined the business.
For a couple of years the three kicked around the idea of opening a brewery, envisioning a brewery that would produce the finest, handcrafted, traditional beers to be found in Montana. All Blackfoot River beers would be brewed with the highest quality traditional 2-row malts, hops, and yeasts, individually selected to produce each particular style of beer. Each of the specialty beers would be carefully handcrafted 15 barrels at a time. Blackfoot River's beers would be unfiltered, never pasteurized and available exclusively on draught. It was hoped that the brewery would be a community-oriented locale providing a comfortable alternative to the typical bar scene.
But dreaming was one thing and doing (and money) was another. Eventually the three got brave and went to the bank with a business plan. Despite good judgement the bank loaned the money. In May of 1998 the dreams of a brewery were coming to fruition in a recently vacated garage building located next door to Miller’s Crossing. Given the bank loan, lots of creativity, loads of hard work, and help and encouragement from many friends, Blackfoot River Brewing Company became a functional brewery. The first test batch of beer was brewed on December 1st, 1998. The brewery received its federal brewery license on December 31st and has been busy making great beer and great friends ever since.
In October of 2008, after eight years of thriving in the cozy environment of the original building, the brewery moved into a wonderful new facility built on what used to be a parking lot next to the old brewery. Many customers were at first weary of leaving the old brewery for the new one. “It won’t have the great character of the old place”, they said. The response from the brewery staff was “It will be our job to make great beer and provide great service in the new place. It will be your job to define and provide the great character in the new place.” So far everyone has owned up to their responsibilities as the new facility provides an ideal place to make beer and an ideal place to enjoy beer and friendly company.
Thanks to all of the folks- staff, business partners, and customers, who have helped make the brewery such a great success!
Lewis & Clark Brewing Company
1517 Dodge Ave.
Helena, MT 59601
About the Brewery
The Lewis & Clark Brewery is a state of the art brewing facility located in the heart of America’s last great place – Montana. The great explorers are the inspiration for our breweries name and in many ways our brewing style. It is also where we live as we are located in the heart of the only Lewis & Clark County in the US. Our secret ingredient is the pride and craftsmanship added by dedicated people lucky enough to be called Montanans. Since our beginning, we have gone to the greatest of lengths to build one of the most efficient, sophisticated breweries around with one goal in mind: to produce the finest ales & lagers possible and serve them at their peak of freshness. Our beers are hand crafted and un-pasteurized and are brewed to levels of quality, which can only be achieved in the finest of breweries. We are proud of what we do and we are confident that everyone who drinks our beers will appreciate the care and craftsmanship served in every glass.
About the Location
This building is comprised of several buildings that were added onto over the last 125 years with some dating back to 1885. The oldest building is the Stone “Smokehouse” (where the men’s room is located now) which was built by T.C. Power in 1885 to smoke meats. Shortly thereafter the “Packing & Provisions” building was built (behind the current tap room bar) and was used as a 3 story “Ice-House” with ice removed from the lakes in the winter then transported up the pass by rail and stored in caves until brought back down in the summer and hoisted up to the third floor to cool the entire building. After the “Montana Packing & Provisions Company” closed the property this property could have been used as a jail (although no historical records support this so maybe the bars were installed for security), then a seed warehouse. Later it became the birthplace of Columbia Paint and over 70 years it was added onto as the paint factory grew to be one of Montana’s most successful businesses. We have tried to preserve as much of the historical nature of this unique place (including leaving the old Colombia Paint staircase as we found it splattered with paint) as possible while still bringing the buildings into the 20th century building codes.
If you look out into the brewery up against the south wall (over the hallway you entered) you will notice a mural painted years ago by an employee at Columbia Paint. This was an area once used to print the labels for paint cans and so it said “Ye Old Print Shop” we just put a redline through the “R” to make it into “Pint Shop” We hope you enjoy our new home as much as we do & cheers!
Ten Mile Creek Brewery
Helena, MT 596901
Ten Mile Creek Brewery is a six barrel brewery located in the historic Last Chance Walking Mall. The brewery opened in late October of 2015. The location is snug in-between The Hawthorn Bottle Shop and Helena’s favorite chocolate store, The Parrot. Whether you are just visiting Helena or you are a local, the historic downtown will have something for you.
Our namesake “Ten Mile Creek” comes from our most important ingredient, water. The creek is in the beer. The watershed supplies most of Helena, including our brewery. Ten Mile Creek gives us clean water that we use to produce hand crafted beer. Each batch has Montana grown barely and all other ingredients are sourced as local as possible.
Ten Mile Creek Brewery is a great place for meetings or parties. We rent our space to private events and are always welcoming to groups looking for a place to converse. At Ten Mile Creek Brewery we consider ourselves a somewhat organized community. Partnering with as many local businesses as possible is a key piece of our philosophy. Downtown is the culture of our city and thrives on the support of business by patrons and visitors of the area.
It’s a Helena, Montana story that is over 150 years old. It’s about hope, faith and hard work. It’s about friendship and the future.
Three friends in their early twenties are trying something they have never done before. They are digging down into the rocky earth of Last Chance Gulch.
Boulders obstruct progress. Lighting is poor. But, all along they remain positive.
It is late in the day, but a beam of light reveals a sparkle in the earth. This is it they believe, this is the gold that made Helena. The three friends go to sleep dreaming of what a future with gold will bring them…
It’s not gold.
But, for the friends it was not a setback. The future is filled with great things.
Jordan Keltz, Ethan Kohoutek and Riley Tubbs are young men full of enthusiasm and excited to see downtown Helena become alive. The trio is Ten Mile Creek Brewery. The guys met in college and a passion for craft beer has now bonded them for life.
When Jordan, Ethan and Riley started Ten Mile Creek Brewery, they knew that while they may have not had a huge amount of cash, they had time that they could invest into renovating the building for the brewery. For this reason, they learned to do things they never thought possible. They dug a series five-foot deep holes into the earth beneath the New York Block’s foundation so that the support beams could be inserted to hold the six heavy barrels that would brew the Ten Mile Creek beer. It was digging the last of those pillars that they thought they had hit gold. The next day, neighboring business Wayne Miller Coins, let them know their gold was of the fool’s variety.
These gentlemen are most certainly NOT fools. The have clearly lined out their roles in the business. Jordan is the brewer. Ethan and Riley take the lead up front. They work behind the bar, they clean out the kegs. It’s obvious they are not afraid of hard work and long hours. They are proud to have built the walls and helped harvest the trees that are the tables. The wood floor of the brewery was sanded and finished through Jordan’s, Ethan’s and Riley’s efforts with family and friends pitching in where they could.
Their investment in and love of the Helena community is highlighted by little details like the long community table: the legs are made of an Archie Bray kiln smokestack and the joist is a piece of the Mullan Bridge. The brewery occupies what was once Fligelman’s Department Store. If you pay attention you’ll see that their beer tracking cards are a little different. They are modeled after Fligelman’s invitations to their opening day celebration.
Jordan, Ethan and Riley have said that over the next year they will be tweaking beer recipes as they transition from small batches to massive batches. They have found both the Blackfoot River Brewing Co and Lewis & Clark Brewery willing to offer tips and tricks of the trade. Ethan said his favorite beer from Ten Mile is changing all the time with his current favorite being the You Got My Goat Oatmeal Stout. I enjoyed their Tree Knocker IPA while I met with Ethan. I have a few friends who love the Reginald’s Red Ale. You’ll have to stop by and give them all a try so you can pick your favorite.
The downtown vibe is buzzing and its businesses like Ten Mile Creek Brewery that are helping Helena re-find the glory days of gold.