From my very first sip of Anchor Steam beer over 20 years ago the vision of Bridger Brewing was realized. It was beautiful; cold and luscious in the mouth, though it almost burned going down, warming my insides and dancing in my head...like drinking pure liquid gold. The American microbrewery revolution was still in its infancy and true entrepreneurs like Bert Grant, Fritz Maytag, Charlie Papazian, Jim Koch and Ken Grossman would lead the charge and inspire many more to join their ranks. I was young and living in the epicenter of this movement in the Pacific Northwest and quickly discovered that not only could beer be done better, but food, coffee... Everything could be done better.
I first learned to homebrew with my older brother in Alaska and fell in love with and celebrated the tradition of creating such a magical drink. Maybe I was an artist after all? And though we brewed some fine beers together, I immersed myself in my new hobby and soon began making beers of more distinct character and quality that matched my desires. Whether I needed the money or not, I always seemed to find part-time work at breweries and brewpubs while doing stream work for the U.S. Forest Service, while getting my graduate degree from Montana State University in Environmental Engineering and even after I started my first environmental consulting firm in Bozeman, Montana. Though I was determined and passionate about this work too... I think I always knew that it would one day have to give way.
How could I turn this dream into reality? In 2007 I met David Sigler with whom I teamed up to form a new engineering consulting company. Before we started the company I warned David that I was not sure if I wanted to continue consulting...that it might be time to pursue my dream of opening a brewery. He said “Why don’t you do both?”...a typical response from David, optimism and energy are never in short supply with this man! And so I did, with his indispensable help. We built our new company from the ground up and in our spare time we researched locations for our future brewery. We had several chances and many disappointments over the years that only hardened our resolve. During this time we learned more and more about business, the craft brewery industry and what it would take to not just be successful, but great!
In 2011 the final and perhaps most essential piece of what would become the Bridger Brewing cog was brought on board. My long-time friend and cooking companion Jim Eberhard would run the kitchen and bring his enormous passion for food to match my brewery creations. Jim's expertise in the kitchen was passed down through a talented family tree and has been honed over campfires and cook stoves...and a love of the outdoors. For 20 years, he has guided on Montana's rivers; running Bridger Brewing's kitchen would become a natural extension of his attention to detail and excellent service.
Choosing the Bridger Brewing name for our dream was easy. From the mountain man Jim Bridger himself; to the beautiful mountains that surround our community, the name is legendary; inspiring happenings that are outside the realm of “possibility” for most, but not for us. We climb the iciest peaks, swim the swiftest rivers, con the most elusive trout, still hunt, gather or grow many of our meals, laugh easy, cry some and perhaps most of all, relish and appreciate this miraculous spot on the globe we call home.
So the Bridger Brewing Story is rooted in creativity, in friendship, in perseverance, in trust, and emphatically in the belief that anything is possible and that we can all do everything better! We can!