Montana Brewery Tours offer education, a side of beer
By Erin Madison
Dylan Shultz, a business student at the University of Montana, has spent the past four years working as a river guide for a Missoula raft company.
"While guiding, one of the most frequent questions is, 'what is there to do around town? Where do we go?'" Shultz said.
His suggestion has always been to check out the local breweries, but he's found that tourists often don't know where to find them.
Those reoccurring conversations prompted Shultz, 24, to start a business offering tours of the area's breweries.
He launched Montana Brewery Tours in May and offers tours of Missoula-area breweries and breweries in the Bitterroot Valley.
The tours "cater to both craft beer enthusiasts and novice beer drinkers, with hopes to give everyone a better understanding of beer and how to truly appreciate the art of craft beer in Montana," Shultz said.
The tours aren't just a booze cruise, Shultz said.
"We definitely try to add more of an educational aspect," he said.
Some of the stops include a tour of the brewery's facilities.
"They get the behind-the-scenes tour," Shultz said.
Shultz currently offers two regular tours, the Missoula Hop-on Tour and Bitterroot Hop-on Tour. He hopes to add a Flathead tour soon.
The "Hop-on" tour allows anyone to join if the bus isn't full by booking a ticket on the website. Parties also can organize private tours.
The Missoula tour starts with a stop at Draught Works, where participants learn about ingredients and the basics of brewing beer and taste some different styles. From there, the tour moves on to Bayern or Big Sky Brewing Company for a full behind-the-scenes tour of the facility. The KettleHouse or another brewery is the third stop, and at that point the tour focuses on having fun and tasting brews.
The Bitterroot Tour is a similar format.
"A tasting journal/guide is included for taking notes, and a flight or pint of beer is also included at each brewery on our tour," Shultz said.
The private tours are fully customizable with options to choose which breweries they visit.
The tours are given in a shuttle bus, although Shultz can accommodate any sized group and uses a school bus when necessary.
Shultz has gotten good feedback from the breweries he includes in the tours.
"The breweries have all been great," he said.
Montana Brewery Tours also offers some specialty tours.
This summer, the company held a couple whitewater tours where participants floated the Alberton Gorge with a stop along the way for appetizers and beer tastings. A local brewer came along on the tour to explain the brewing process.
Shultz is now working to develop a beer and cheese pairing tour.
"I'll be coming out with a lot more specialty tours soon," he said.
Shultz came up with the idea for Montana Brewery Tours last fall.
"I worked two full-time jobs all winter in order to get started," he said.
Shultz currently runs every aspect of the business from graphic design to the website creation to leading the tours.
"Breweries are a culturally rich place for tourists or locals wanting to experience Montana," he said. "Our main goal on our tours is to give people a better understanding about beer and the tools necessary to truly appreciate great craft beer."
For more information or to book a tour, visit mtbrewtours.com.
Reach Tribune staff Writer Erin Madison at 406-791-1466 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at GFTrib_EMadison.
Montana Brewery Tours
What: A Missoula-based business that offers tours of local breweries.
Cost: Tours range from $49 to $79 per person.
For more information: mtbrewtours.com