Governor Schweitzer Meets With the King of Beers

by jhwygirl

The Good Gov reminded Anheuser-Busch of its commitments to Montana barley producers last week after hearing word that Belgian Brewer InBev was seeking to purchase the long-standing American brewer.

His concerns were spot-on, as InBev “acquired” Anheuser-Busch yesterday. Was it hostile?

Maybe not.

The beer market is, apparently, hot. What it looks like is that in the end, InBev gave them a $52,000,000 offer they couldn’t refuse.

Or maybe it was that extra $5.

Montana is the U.S.’s 3rd larger producer of barley – the main ingredient in beer, for those of you not in the know – and we provide 1/4th of the barley for Anheuser-Busch. Many farmers sign commitment contracts, agreeing to hold their best for A-B.

Anheuser is the largest buyer of Montana barley.

Anheuser has significant investments in Montana – not to mention significant payrolls: Between just Conrad, Sidney and Fairfield (the Barley Capital of the World), A-B has a payroll of $1,000,000.

Come to think of it, farmer Senator Jon Tester is a barley man.

Jon, it appears, as been paying attention too: While the deal still needs approval by both InBev and A-B stockholders along with review from U.S. and European Union antitrust regulators, both Jon and Senator Clair McCaskill (D-MO) – my pick for Obama’s Vice-Presidential choice, incidentally – have said that the deal is going to receive congressional scrutiny if needed.

InBev CEO Carlos Brito doesn’t expect any problems.

St. Louis, on the other hand, is feeling screwed.

Local brew pubs here in Montana might want to kick in….I know that some do NOT use Montana malt barley. Dare I say Canadian? Don’t know why, but you’d think they could find reason to do so, for a batch or two. US made? Avoid all that non-eco-friendly transportation of barley and hops?

Then again, maybe it’s because the Montana producers reserve their best stuff for A-B.

Which leads me to hops….

Hops (beer’s second ingredient) is an entirely different story here in Montana. Montana doesn’t even rank as a hops producer, that I could find. Actually, I do know some guys that have one growing on the back porch…..

Only Washington, Oregon and Idaho produce significant amounts of hops, (74%, 16%, 10%, respectively). Maybe we don’t have the proper type of soils and precipitation? I’m familiar with the hops-growing area in Idaho, and it’s darn similar to Montana’s barley land.

Maybe in the interest of diversification (didn’t I read something about Schweitzer and mint and toothpaste?) we should start growing some hops right here in Montana, and then someone can open a Beer Montana ala Wheat Montana.

Wouldn’t that be neat?


  1. As a dedicated beer drinker, I know where my beer originates but have no clue where the ingredients are grown. I do know that Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin and Fremont County grows a lot of barley. Anheuser-Busch and Coors buy some of it, and truck it to Colorado. Does Colorado not grow barley? Too many acres in sprawling housing developments?

    I like the fact that New Belgium Brewery 45 miles away in Fort Collins makes fine beers with power generated by wind turbines that I can (almost) see from my house in Cheyenne. Employee-owned too.

    I do not like the fact that big brewers in the U.S. are being sold to the highest overseas bidder. But Bud is still made by union workers, so I’ll keep drinking it.

    Thanks for the research, jhwygirl.

  2. The farmers contract with AB or Coors. I don’t know if they’d be allowed to raise a few acres for the microbreweries – but I don’t see why not. We never raised malt barley, only feed barley – so I really have no clue.

    But hops – now there’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while. Definitely better than sugar beets.

  3. Are hops hard to grow here, moos? They look like the type of plant that grows like weeds. The fields in Idaho look like big dense masses of green – you don’t even see the rows between them.

    We also had the same discussion today, at work, about barley…and were wondering whether it is a labor intensive crop or if it was something that was easy to grow.

    Easy as farming can be, I guess.

  1. 1 Stevensville Gets a Brewery: Blacksmith Brewing « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Maybe they can talk a local farmer down there into growing some hops, and Montana will have it’s first grown-brewed-and-served in Montana beer. Providing, of course, they use some Montana barley too. No Comments Leave a Commenttrackback addressThere was an error with your comment, please try again. name (required)email (will not be published) (required)url […]

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