Beer and Bozeman

Posted: January 17, 2018 by rebekahschields in Uncategorized

It seems that Bozeman’s beer scene has been growing exponentially lately, with eight breweries and counting! Many of these new breweries are located up and coming commercial hubs, including the Cannery District and Bozeman’s Northside. And while it seems that craft beer might be a new trend, beer has always been an important beverage in our city.

Some of the first residents of Bozeman, Jacob Speith and Charles Krug, opened

speith and krug

Speith and Krug two story frame brewery pre-1882

Bozeman’s first brewery at 240 East Main Street. Their two-story frame brewery, built in 1867, was successful, partially due to its location above Bozeman Creek, which flows right next to the building. Bozeman Creek provided a good source of water and refrigeration for their brewing operation. Unfortunately, their building burned down, and so in 1883, Speith and Krug decided to rebuild a brick building just to the east of their original saloon. A brick shortage slowed the construction, and the brewers had to settle for two different colors of brick for the top and bottom floors, resulting in the two-tone brick color still observable today at 242 East Main.


In 1895, a new brewer began making waves in Bozeman. An immigrant from Germany fleeing compulsory militia service, Julius Lehrkind came to the United States in 1860 and moved to Bozeman in 1895. Having already owned a brewery in Iowa for several years, he realized the potential of Bozeman’s clear water and the grain grown in the valley. Family legend says that the Lehrkind family boarded a train going west, and at every stop, Julius would get off the train to taste the water. In Bozeman, not only did the water taste great, barley was also being grown in nearby Manhattan.

Photo Courtesy of the Pioneer MuseumThe Lehrkind Brewery circa 1902.

Lehrkind Brewery circa 1902. Note the railroad tracks in the foreground.


Lehrkind bought out Speith and Krug and moved the Bozeman Brewery to North Wallace Ave. The brewery was immense in size and production, it produced some 40,000 barrels every year and was the largest building in Bozeman until the building of the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse in 1957. Successful from the start, Genuine Lager Bozeman Brewery boasted four stories, thick 18 inch walls, three wells, and an attached malting house. With the advent of Prohibition in the 1920s, came the downfall of Bozeman Brewing. The passage of the law was said to have broken Julius Lehrkind’s heart and he passed in 1922.

Today, the Lehrkind family is still in the drink business – bottling and distributing soft drinks! The Bozeman Brewery was the cornerstone of the Northside neighborhood for years. Now home to several new breweries, bakeries, and art studios, the Northside is ready to reclaim its place in the Bozeman community.

Drinking beer at a Bozeman brewery is a great excuse to get out of the house, try something new, and support local businesses and non-profits. Don’t forget to join The Extreme History Project at Bozeman Brewery to Raise a Pint for History on Sunday January 21st from 2-8pm. Click here for the Facebook Event Page.

Want to learn more about historic brewing in Bozeman? Check out these resources:

Photos courtesy of the Gallatin History Museum


Bozeman Daily Chronicle 5/2/2011, Amanda Ricker

Bozeman and the Gallatin Valley: A History, Phyllis Smith

A Guide to Historic Bozeman, Jim Jenks

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