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Featured Beer Traveler: Ryan Newhouse

Ryan signing copies of his book "Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country"
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Ryan Newhouse is writer with a thirst for travel and when he travels beer is often involved. As a Montana resident he has helped advance the beer scene in the state by co-founding Missoula Craft Beer Week and creating MontanaBeerFinder.com. He has visited nearly all 39 breweries in the state and literally wrote the book on Montana craft beer. Make sure to read all the way to end where Ryan has offered up a signed copy of his book  “Montana Beer: The Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country” to one lucky reader.

Ryan signing copies of his book "Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country"

Ryan signing copies of his book “Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country”

TRP: Tell us about yourself in 140 characters or less. OR in a haiku
Ryan: I am living the life I’ve always wanted – writing, writing, writing – and now with a beer in hand.

TRP: If beer drinking was your “job” what title would you give yourself? If beer drinking is your job, tell us more!
Ryan: I say writing is my job, but the perk is getting to drink beer. I think my title would have to be “Director of Deliciousness”

TRP: Why do you travel for beer?
Ryan: I’m actually grateful that I can’t get every beer I want at one store, in one state. Traveling for beer adds another level of excitement to any trip I take. It’s part “thrill of the hunt” but with a tinge of visiting “old friends,” in relation to finding new beers and getting more of my favorites.

TRP: How long have you been seeking out craft beer when you travel?
Ryan: Honestly since I’ve been of legal drinking age. My first trip abroad was when I was 21 (I’m now in my 30s) and I traveled to Sicily and Malta to study food. And though legal drinking age there is 18, I was in my “infancy” and just tried to find the cool-looking bottles and whatever else the locals recommended.

TRP: What was your first craft beer travel memory?
Ryan: Being part of a crew that drove from Tennessee to Yellowstone National Park to volunteer for most of a college summer. We weren’t allowed to drink during the trip, but I bought two six-packs of Yellowstone River Brewing Company beers to bring back with me (Grizzly Wulff Wheat and Wild Fly Ale). For me, it was like finding a prize – something no else had – but I shared them with friends after I got home.

TRP: Where all have you been? What breweries have you visited?
Ryan: Like Johnny Cash, “I’ve been everywhere, man.” I’ve set foot in every U.S. state except Alaska, and I’ve lived in about 15 of them. I’ve been abroad to Germany, France, Sicily, Italy, Mexico, and Malta. Being of German descent, I really loved touring some of the beer-making abbeys. Perhaps my most memorable stop was Kloster Andechs – I had a huge plate of pork and a liter of beer!

Ryan Newhouse in front of teh famous Boulevard Brewing smokestack.

Ryan on a visit to midwest staple Boulevard Brewing Co.

TRP: How is German beer travel different than the US?
Ryan: In Germany, I think, beer is second nature. Here in the U.S. we might have to scout a little to see which restaurant or bars have an exciting tap list. In Germany, you don’t really question these things. The beer will be there, so just enjoy it.

TRP: What are you looking for in a beer destination when you travel?
Ryan: Honestly, proximity to where I’m staying for one. I like to see a city on foot as much as possible. I don’t want to drive around town for a sample here and there. So if a place can have a cool bottle shop, bar, and/or brewery all within walking distance, I’m a happy camper.

TRP:  What is your favorite beer travel memory?
Ryan: Other than the ones I’ve already mentioned, I took a road trip one Spring Break with my girlfriend at the time and we went up to Maine. I remember this convenience store having a display of some blueberry beer, and it opened my eyes to what beers could be – fruit + beer? I thought it was cool, and tasty. Again, it was a beer that reflected where I was and that featured what was local.

Ryan gets around. In clockwise order Ryan enjoying local food and beer in Germany, stopping by Wallace Brewing in Idaho, and holding down the first slot to get Pliny.

Ryan gets around. In clockwise order Ryan enjoying local food and beer in Germany, stopping by Wallace Brewing in Idaho, and holding down the first slot to get Pliny.

TRP: How do you find craft beer when you travel?
Ryan: I do my homework. I look over some of the popular beer forums and websites for recommendations. I’ll enlist Google Maps to find a bottle shop. But I always start by knowing where the breweries are – that’s what I want to find first.

The ultimate guide to craft beer in Montana.

The ultimate guide to craft beer in Montana.

TRP:  You literally wrote the book on Montana beer. What spurned you to do this?
Ryan: I’ve lived in Montana for over a decade now, and in the last few years I’ve been trying lots of beer and blogging about it. I also started our local Craft Beer Week two years ago. But I’m also the kind of guy who likes to have guidebooks and check off the things I’ve seen or done (from birdwatching and rockhounding to the “Top 10 Must See” lists). There’s just something about having a real book in your hands as a travel reference. When I was approached last year by the publisher, who asked, “Do you think Montana should have one?” I was able to fill their ears with all the good beer news we have in Montana.

TRP: What is it about Montana beer that you love?
Ryan: From start to finish, it’s a Montana product. We’re the number one barley-growing state in the country, we have the largest malting facility in North America, our glacial waters are fantastic, and now we’re even getting into growing hops. And it’s good beer! Most of the beer made here doesn’t make it across state lines; it’s made for us to enjoy, and I like that.

TRP: How is Montana’s beer scene different than other places you’ve been?
Ryan: Montana breweries, for the most part, aren’t out to be trendsetters. Most are brewing traditional styles. A few are barrel-aging. Only two or three have had much success with sours. We tend to march at the pace of our own drums here.

TRP:  What beer travels are on your wish list?
Ryan: That’s a tough one. But I would love to go on a session-beer trip around England. Sometimes-warm, low-alcohol beers might not be on everyone’s bucket list – but they intrigue me.

TRP: If you could have dinner and beers with anyone in the craft beer industry, who would it be and where would you go?
Ryan: I literally just did that with Charlie Papazian last week here in Montana, so I can’t say that anymore. I think meeting and talking with Lauren Salazar from New Belgium would be fun – she knows her stuff and I’d like to ask her about sensory training. I’d probably go to Toronado in San Diego; I haven’t been there yet.

[box]Ryan has offered up a free signed copy of “Montana Beer: The Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country” for one lucky TRP follower. Just leave a comment on this post stating what Montana brewery you would most like to visit or the one on have most enjoyed visiting. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday August 30th.[/box]

Where can we find more about you online?
Twitter: @RyanWritesWords, @MTBeerFinder
Online: www.MontanaBeerFinder.com, www.MontanaBeerBook.com
Facebook: facebook.com/MontanaBeerFinder

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Andres Buitron says:

    Blackfoot River Brewery, still need to make it to Helena for it.

  • Todd Skibbe says:

    I am most interested in visiting Wildwood down in Stevensville.

  • George Horning says:

    Blackfoot River for me as well. I’d love to get up to Montana for some mountain biking and breweries!!

  • Brent Walker says:

    Tried a fantastic Nut Brown from Bitter Root Brewery last night so I’ll say that’s my tops of places to visit right now. Blackfoot River is excellent and 406 in Bozeman is fantastic, would be happy to go back to either.

  • Brian says:

    Maria and I have technically never been to a Montana brewery, but did drive to Big Sky Brewing when we first hit the road only to realize it was Labor Day and closed.

  • Dan says:

    I like how they literally can say that all of the products for a beer can come from Montana. Truly local, and makes me want to take the EM-50 up there for a Beer Trip sometime.

  • Eric Steimle says:

    I just took the family for a trip to Big Sky. I was very impressed with Madison River Brewing in Belgrade. The Salmon fly Honey Rye is great. I was able to get a six pack safely back in my luggage and have shared it with some of the distributor in the Tampa Bay area. I really enjoyed the Juice double IPA, great flavor for a 9% IPA. Anyone up for a beer exchange?

  • Eric says:

    I look forward to getting a chance to read this book, I would like to make it to all of the breweries in Montana (and am almost halfway there!)

  • Katie O'Reilly says:

    I was at a conference at Yellowstone National Park and drove back-and-forth to Gardiner, Montana each day to try the local craft beer choices at the local pubs. I had no idea how many breweries riddled Montana… and they make good beer!! I found a little store that allowed you to create your own six-pack (jackpot). After sampling more than 2 dozen Montana brews, I really liked Red Lodge Ale’s Bent Nail IPA and Lewis & Clark’s Tumbleweed IPA. I even brought some back to Colorado to share with friends! Good job, Montana!

  • Damon Bay says:

    I was born in Montana and have returned several times to visit family.
    Been enjoying the craft beer scene since the early 90’s, been a few
    years since I have been back, gotta get back to the Montana Mts and
    beer. Looking forward to reading this book.

  • Brian says:

    Congratulations to Todd Skibbe who was randomly selected from the comments on this post to win a signed copy of “Montana Beer: A Guide to Breweries in Big Sky Country”! Thank you to all who left a comment and I hope everyone gets to try some Montana beer from the source at some point.

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