Is Montucky the new hipster beer?
Jeremy Gregory and Chad Zeitner wanted to put their home state of Montana on the beer map so they created Montucky Cold Snacks, a simple lager with a funky name that's gaining momentum with hipsters, outdoorsy folk and people who prefer – or occasionally prefer – a lighter-tasting beer.
"It's a low key, easy beer about outdoor culture and having fun," says Gregory. "It's the official, unofficial beer of Montana."
Although Gregory and Zeitner have lived in Montana for most of their lives – and still do – the "Montana-ness" of the beer is in its concept. Montucky is actually brewed at City Brewing Company, a contract beverage producer in La Crosse.
Gregory says the concept wasn't created as backlash to the craft beer movement and that he and Zeitner even considered opening a craft brewery prior to Montucky. Instead, they applied the sometimes-quirky craft brewery marketing approach to their "everyday" beer.
The name "Montucky" comes from a word used by natives to refer to large, rural parts of the state – of which there are many. "Cold snacks" is an expression the owners believe was coined by a friend and one they always found odd but funny.
Gregory admits that when they started the business five years ago and still in their 20s, they didn't really know what they were doing – but also didn't let that stop them. Originally, they attempted to get a bank loan to build a brewery, but were unable to secure one. Gregory started researching alternative options and cold calling breweries, eventually landing a deal with City Brewing.
Although Montucky has been brewed in Wisconsin since 2012, it only reached the Wisconsin market at the end of July. It's now available in about 100 bars and liquor stores in the state. Prior to this summer, it was sold exclusively in Montana, Colorado and the Pacific Northwest.
"We wanted to get into the Wisconsin market for a long time," says Gregory. "We know a lot of people from Wisconsin who are (in Montana) going to school or skiing and they have been really amped about it."
Biju Zimmerman is a bartender at Sabbatic, 700 S. 2nd St., and says it's selling fairly well. It is available in a 12-ounce or 16-ounce can and is priced in line with other macro beers.
"I describe it as a mix of High Life, Pabst and Schlitz," says Zimmerman.
Montucky contains 4.1 percent alcohol and a 16-ounce can – aka "tall boy" – has 110 calories, similar to a light beer, although it doesn't taste like one. In addition to the 12- or 16-ounce cans at bars, Montucky is also available in 12 packs at liquor stores.
The company gives eight percent of all sales to charities around the country and consumers choose the charities online. So far, Montucky has donated $38,000 to numerous not-for-profit organizations. They have partnered with LGBTQ+ organizations and for two years in a row created limited edition "pride cans" that drove 100 percent of sales back to those organizations.
"Our goal is to give back to others and help you celebrate the moments that you're in," says Gregory.
I tried it and I liked it. Nothing fancy, but it hit the spot. The name is fun to say and the can looks pretty cool. What's not to like?
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