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The Story of the Bunkhouse

What do a sixth-generation Montanan and a pilot from the Midwest have in common? Beer, obviously.  But the story behind that common love has a single point of origin: Germany.

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Both of us developed our appreciation for good beer in Germany with about twenty years and under thirty miles between where we were. One of us lived in what was then West Germany in the early 1980s, while the other lived there after the fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification, but as fate would have it we lived within thirty miles of each other (a village called Winnweiller for one and Ramstein for the other…both communities had their own breweries).

The beers of Germany are rich and varied, just like the food (anyone who tells you Germans live on wurst and sauerkraut obviously never left the airport food court), especially in the region between the Mosel and Rhein rivers. In Germany just about every village has a brewery of some sort, and you can spend many days taking the train from one village to the next sampling the local brew in the gasthaus which is always attached to any small brewery. Where we both lived it was a quick jump from the wheat beers of central Germany to the rich and flavorful dark beers of Bavaria and a bit of a jog north to the pilsners of northern Germany. During the Cold War the Czech pilsners were hard to come by, but one of us did sample them in the post-Communist era.

We also share an appreciation of history. Montana saw just about every immigration wave pass through, leaving farmers, miners, and stockgrowers in their wake. And each culture brought beer with them, creating a rich tapestry for any beer enthusiast. Butte alone featured a number of small breweries, each one centered in a particular neighborhood and brewing beer favored by the ethnic group living there. An Irish neighborhood, for example, would produce stouts and possibly ales, while the Germans would favor lagers and pilsners. Lagers in particular were a German specialty. Prior to their arrival, most American beer was some variety of ale. Our beers and their names draw inspiration from those days, and we’ll even bring a handful of the old traditional recipes back to life.

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Traditions matter. For us it’s more than just a slogan. We’re committed to bringing back some of those old brewing conventions, making beer with both purpose and passion. We limit the number of varieties on tap so we can guarantee quality. That’s another of those traditions we value. We also choose those varieties with an eye to Montana’s brewing heritage. You’ll find a wider variety of dark beers (stouts and porters, along with black lagers and a surprise or two) than you will IPAs on tap at The Bunkhouse. You’ll also find beers that take longer to make (pilsners, for example), because they’re a part of our heritage (both Montana’s and brewing’s). Traditions matter.

There’s also a Montana tradition of giving back to your community. Maybe it comes from our hard winters, where folks pitch in to shovel each other out of drifts and lend a hand without a word being spoken. At The Bunkhouse we’re committed to that tradition. You won’t find us “tooting our horn” much, but you can find links to non-profit groups we’ve worked with in the past. It’s not just a phase or a phrase…it’s another of those traditions that matter.