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Missouri Breaks Brewing

For Whatever Ales You

406 Brewing owners, Matt and John
Doc Z and Katie of Missouri Breaks Brewing.

We've all been told that we should do just what the Doctor ordered, right? Now, the people of Wolf Point, in far northeastern Montana, are finding it remarkably easy to be compliant patients. And when you pass through this remote ranching and farming community, you can also get the cure for whatever ales you.

And here's how it came to be.

A few years ago Dr. Mark Zilkoski, a GP who has serves the local community as one of Wolf Point's's family doctors in the local rural health clinic, decided to take up home brewing. Then, one day he and a few of his fellow, as described on the company website, "microbrew sippers" and "river bottom hoodlums" were tasting some of Doc'Z, as he's called, creations as they enjoyed the view of the Missouri Breaks. Somebody suggested they start a their own brewery, and shortly thereafter, November 2009, Missouri River Brewing aka Doc'Z Pub opened its doors.

Missouri Breaks Brewing, co-owned by Dr. Zilkoski and Mark Sansaver, soon became the consummate family business. Doc'Z brews some of the beer and the rest is brewed by his daughter Katie who also manages the business. The following spring, the owners decided to expand the operation and make it an espresso and coffee shop during the morning hours, and Katie's sister, Marianne Rees, joined the fun and became manager of the coffee shop. Their mother, the Ziloski family matriarch, Myrtle, is there providing ongoing support and also making homemade soup and bread for the coffee shop.

Missouri Breaks Brewing is hardly alone in being a family operation. That's true with several Montana microbreweries, and there's even one other father-daughter team in the state, about 550 miles away over at Hamilton's Bitter Root Brewing. So what then, is different about Wolf Point's newwest, biggest and best brewery?

That was a tough question for Katie, but not too much. She said they really haven't been to too many of Montana's other breweries and are instead just doing their local thing, but one obvious difference was the coffee shop. No other brewery in Montana doubles as a coffee shop during morning hours, which actually seems like a logical move for a lot of small brewers who want to expand and maximize income from the same space.

Otherwise, there isn't much different, Katie admitted. Katie tries to buy local as much as possible, growing some of their own hops and buying honey from a bee farm on the edge of town, and like most brewers, she tries for a friendly atmosphere in the taproom.

"We brew about once a week," she said, "and we like to do smaller quantities. This allows us to put more flavor in our beers, and it seems more homey."

You can also find Missouri Breaks brews at a few pubs and taverns along U.S. 2, often called the Highline, in Glasgow, Malta, Havre and other rural communities, which could be a sign that we're finally starting to see a few rare microbrew blossoms in the Budweiser Desert.

Beer cometh
Tester tray.

Katie also said they hope to either can or bottle their beer in the future, but they need to get a little bigger first. Right now, she estimates Missouri Breaks produces between 250 and 300 barrels per year, which would rank it among the smallest craft breweries in Montana.

Again like most if not all of Montana craft breweries, business is good for Missouri Breaks Brewing, one of the most remote breweries Montana (tied with Beaver Creek Brewing for that honor). "Things are working out as planned," brewmeister Katie Ziklkoski agreed.

-Bill Schneider

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