By DANIELLE MARTIN/Montana State News
On a drizzly Sunday afternoon Bar 3 Bar-B-Q in Belgrade is hardly full. With the weekend brunch rush just ending, a few employees sit at the bar at the end of their shift along with a few regulars. The room is bright and inviting despite the weather with picnic tables lining the windows overlooking the train tracks that run through the center of town.
A sign shaped like the state of Montana says “Drink Local” and old black-and-white photographs adorn the brightly painted walls. As a train rumbles by a few feet from the window a servers says, “Oh no the train, sometimes we have to shut the windows it’s so loud.” The patrons don’t seem fazed, though, as they continue sipping and chatting away.
In the remodeled blue warehouse the room is a mixture of innovation and nostalgia. Todd Hough, the owner and brewer of Outlaw Brewing located inside Bar 3 said he fell in love with beer after a trip to Belgium in 1996 and knew he wanted to make it his career.
Hough isn’t there yet, but the customers and employees have nothing but great things to say about him. One local on his way out the door says, “Todd is my favorite brewer. He’s just weird and funny and great.”
A server offers small book and says “All you need to know about Todd is in this book.” It is “The Mustache Growers Guide.” She points to the cover and says, “It’s a cross between that one and that one” pointing to two outlandish mustaches and the other employees laugh.
His Passive Aggressive Pale Ale and Honey Lemon Ginger Ale, a seasonal, look enticing.
“Our ‘Passive Aggressive Pale Ale’ aka ‘P.A.P.A.’ is out most popular beer,” said Hough. “This beer is what I call a Heavy Pale, which means it is half way between an American Pale Ale and an IPA. Passive is for easy drinking. Aggressive is for hard hitting 6.7 percent alcohol.”
The beer has hoppy bitter notes but is as refreshing as you would expect after that description. The Honey Lemon Ginger is unique, almost like a cross between a strong ginger beer and a light ale.
Todd is from Virginia initially and moved to Bozeman 14 years ago.
“Bozeman seemed to have the perfect balance of a small vibrant community with great recreational opportunities,” he said.
In fact, it is Bozeman’s reputation of “playing hard” outdoors that he feels is why we love beer so much. “This town seems to take every opportunity it can to work up a thirst by playing outside, so naturally they become beer drinkers,” he said.
At the age of 38 Hough seems to be exactly where he wants to be. His wife technically owns the brewery on paper, but he is the one that runs it. They have two children, Enzo, 6, and Fiona, 2, as well as a pet cat.
Being able to brew full time has fulfilled a lifetime dream for Hough. He said his favorite part of the job is the tasting room, “Where strangers regularly get together and share laughs and conversation while enjoying the beer that I created.”
You could say he likes brewing because he likes making people happy. When he is observing people in the tasting room he said, “I feel like I helped bring them together for a friendly fun time.”
However it is not easy to transition from brewing for personal use to serving the public.
“Consistency is the biggest challenge,” he said. “We have created many procedures to make the most consistent beers possible,” which may be why he is always trying new recipes.
There are currently seven beers on tap in the tasting room in addition to the P.A.P.A. and Ginger Ale including a very popular stout that everyone in the room loves and a cream ale.
“All of our beers are Ales at this point. This is primarily because we can make Ale in about 2 weeks where a lager takes more like 6 weeks. So Ales make more sense for a small brewery,” said Hough.
Having recently announced that Hough will be opening a new Bozeman location the few patrons in the room seem a little sad about the prospect of losing their favorite watering hole. Colter Brice, a long time customer, said that it was fine as long as he kept his current location.
When asked about keeping the tasting room in Bar 3 Hough, said, “This is up in the air right now. We would like to, but might not be able to.”
He said he feels the need to move because he is quickly outgrowing his current space which only has a small room for his tanks and equipment. “In addition the larger population in Bozeman and the proximity to a residential neighborhood is also a big bonus” he added.
Hough has high hopes for the future of his small business. He said he wants to start canning his beer and become more active in his community as a Bozeman resident.
“We do plan on getting licensed for live music in Bozeman, and we do have some tentative food plans,” he said.
-Edited by Clark Moorman