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Carter's Brewing

From Newwest.net, 11-23-08 of published article, Microbrew Montana: Bayern Brewing: The Only German Brewery in the Rockies, Bill Schneider. This article is presented in agreement with Newwest.net. All rights reserved, Copyright (© 2008)

carters_brew
Mike Uhrich, the Young Buck Brewer of Billings.

Carter's Brewing of Billings is on the rails--right out the back door, in fact.

At Carter's, one of Montana's newest breweries, it's not only about making craft beer, but also about railroads and trains. If you're into railway culture and history, and happen to enjoy great microbrew, add this taproom to your pub crawl.

Carter's is part of the de facto Brewery District in downtown Billings, where four breweries (Angry Hanks, Carter's, Montana and Yellowstone Valley) thrive within four blocks of each other, making it convenient to stay at a downtown hotel and have a microbrew tour on foot. Nobody seems to know why all the breweries located in such close proximity, but it certainly is serendipitous for craft brew fans. Billings has its own micro-microbrew tour.

Unlike most brewers, Carter's sells almost all of its beer right in the taproom--no bottling and only a few local keg accounts. And no wonder--on some nights, up to 200 thirsty craft beer fans crowd into the tasting room. That's one thing that makes Carter's different from most other breweries, owner and "brew conductor" Mike Uhrich, the self-proclaimed "young buck brewer" of Billings, said, but he admitted his new business isn't that unlike his fellow craft brewers. Most Montana microbreweries credit their success to taproom sales, but very few sell almost all the beer they make on site.

"We do have a little more to choose from," he added. "We have as many as twelve beers on tap. That's more than most taprooms or bars do. A lot of people come here looking for more taste."

That includes tourists. "We didn't get too many last year because we opened late in the tourism season, but we're getting more this year."

He also regularly offers "Young Buck Special" brews in at attempt to appeal to the younger beer drinker.

And the railroad theme permeates everything at Carter's--a great location (previously used by the railroad for storage), the logo (a toy train favored by Uhrich's son, Carter), and of course the beer names--Train Wreck Imperial IPA, Switchyard Scottish Ale, Dark Horse Stout, Golden Spike Pilsner, et al, and Uhrich's three "signature beers," Handcar Hefe, Derailed IPA and Black Magic Porter.

"We aren't trying to convert Bud Light drinkers," he noted. "We're trying to appeal to craft beer drinkers. We also get a lot of home brewers and have a great reputation with the more experienced beer drinkers."

Uhrich, who brewed beer for his neighbor, Yellowstone Valley Brewing, for five years before opening his own place, had to expand his limited capacity in the first year and is considering canning beer. Unlike a lot of brewers, he has plenty of room to expand.

Perhaps because of Carter, his three-year-old, you also see a small kid's play area at Carter's, something you don't see at many breweries, although most of them welcome families to their taprooms.

So don't miss Carter's while in Billings sampling the local microbrew.

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