406 Brewing Co. revels in unexpected success

By MATT RULE/Montana State News

The 406 Brewing Co., has succeeded far beyond its creator’s wildest dreams.

Matt Muth started brewing his own beer in college (majoring in anthropology and minoring in chemistry) and has wanted to start up his own brewery ever since.

His formal career in brewing started up when he started washing kegs at the Madison River Brewing Company in Belgrade. He also worked for his current “rival,” the Bozeman Brewing Company.

He now owns and operates the 406 Brewery with his brother, sister and two other employees who serve beer and tend bar.

The brewery is located on 101 East Oak Street in Bozeman near the Gallatin County Fairgrounds and opened in May 2011. The building is tucked between two other small buildings and presents itself as a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Entering the building through heavy wooden doors, visitors are immersed in a modern aesthetic that truly welcomes any prospective “beer tester.”

Since the brewery was built so recently, it is on the forefront of brewery innovation, and is built around the brewery’s tasting room where patrons can write recipe ideas and potential beer names in the aims of involving the patron by in the brewing process.

These are the brews that populate the menu so far: Session Pale Ale, the JAMber Amber (JAM are Matt’s brother’s initials), an IPA (India Pale Ale) and the Brown Porter. The 406 Brewery is different than other breweries. None of the beer is bottled or stored in kegs. It is a true microbrewery.

Mario P., a San Francisco critic, reviewed the brewing company, and after a long list of positive experiences said:

“Most importantly, the beer. This is a small batch brewer, and so something that is on tap now probably will not be next month. They make a great session ale, extra pale ale, and I have had a couple different IPAs, all of which have been very good. They brew a broad variety of other stuff as well, but I have not tried them all. So much good beer… so little time.”

Once Muth is able to fully establish his Brewery, he hopes to be able to provide food along with his brews.

“At first, I wanted to just establish a sense of place, get people in the door and then offer beers that aren’t the same as what’s already around,” Muth said.

On a larger scale, there seems to be no real animosity from other already established breweries. Todd Scott, owner of Bozeman Brewing, said he welcomes the new business and said, “There’s no cutthroat attitude,” and added: “That’s the beauty of the craft-beer business as a whole. It’s a fraternal organization.”

Muth and Scott are well acquainted, along with Howard McMurry the owner of Madison River Brewing Company, who of course Matt Muth once worked for.

In fact, Todd Scott’s business is growing in a down economy, which is obviously impressive. Not only is Scott’s business growing, but also Howard McMurry said Madison River just purchased two new tanks to help increase production. Both companies agree having another brewery enter the Bozeman area will only increase the brewing community, and the overall desire for more high quality local beer.

Montana as a whole has 26 registered breweries and ranks second, only to Vermont, in having the highest number of breweries per capita.

The 406 Brewing Company still has no flagship beer, as direction is led by customers who enjoy experimenting with different kinds of beer.

So, as for now, the odds of you visiting the brewery today and then in a month, and having the same beer on selection is low, showing how Muth really has no fear of change and experimenting, as he embraces it and provides the brewery with a new and unique take on beer.

If you are lucky enough to find the same beer being provided a month later, chances are it’s their fifth or so variant, and by the time this is read, they’ll be on the sixth.

With all these positives there is one resulting negative. The demand is too high. This brewery and ones all across Montana are struggling with the same issue.

If demand continues to stay so high, the breweries will have no choice but to expand and meet the demand.

Edited by Angie Ford.

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