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.
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!
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.
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.
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.