Saturday evening a boat filled with over 120 Montana beer enthusiasts (brewers, homebrewers, craft beer fans, MBA members) and Charlie Papazian left port and started a cruise along the shores of Flathead Lake.
It was Mr. Papazian’s first official beer business in Montana, and when he got up to the boat’s microphone, he made a telling announcement. This is “the best state association gathering ever!” he said (twice).
In the spirit of the moment, it was clear to everyone aboard what that meant. It meant that we Montanans know how to have a good time. We were cruising around the largest body of fresh water east of the Mississippi on a stunningly beautiful August evening on a boat filled with over 40 different Montana beers provided by over a dozen different Montana breweries. Yes, that would make it an unforgettable event.
Instead of a brief keynote talk at some function, the MBA put together an event that focused on the social experience for everyone as much as provided a unique opportunity to mingle with one of the greatest influences on craft beer today.
Papazian’s remarks on the boat were of how the United States’ brewing industry sets the example for collaboration and cooperation, a brother- and sisterhood as it were (my words). Others look to U.S. breweries as leaders for what-could-be in the industry.
Yet bringing it closer to home, Papazian also reminded those brewing in Montana that although “you might not have the same interests all the time…you have to look at the big picture, the big vision, and help each other out.”
As a participant at the event, I saw nothing but camaraderie. These were friends here, and though most are always busy brewing the beer we enjoy in Montana, here was an opportunity to catch up, share the beers they created, and just have a good time.
It also showed that whatever the MBA faces in the future, or faced in the past, they have something to be proud of – they have strength in numbers and a band of brewers who have each other’s back.
To see more photos, check out the Montana Beer Finder album on Facebook. For some highlights on the tasty beers we had, check out Growler Fills: Craft Beer Enthusiasm.
Personal thanks go out to the MBA (Blake and Tony) and Tamarack Brewing for hosting and feeding us.