Montanans pride themselves on local craft beer. When boasting about the awesomeness of this state, the plethora of microbreweries comes in somewhere just below national parks and trout-choked rivers. While we still rank third nationally for craft breweries per capita, we wear our beer-lover status like a badge of honor and challenge anyone in the country to make a better pint. But attempting to rank Montana's best beers can seem like a fool's errand. How do you argue in favor of one sudsy gem over another? The Indy did its best, factoring in distribution, name recognition and awards won regionally, nationally and internationally. Even then we found ourselves at odds as to which should be first or fifth or even 30th, entering into fierce debate when the data came up even. It was an intense process, one that left many bottles and cans and heated words in its wake. This list may stir controversy, but we're hoping it also sparks conversation and prods drinkers to sample pints they've not yet tried. In the end, that's exactly the point: To inspire everyone to broaden their palates, talk amongst themselves and maybe, just maybe, brew another beer we can all be proud to brag about.
- photo by Cathrine L Walters