Posted: Jul 13, 2012 8:32 PM by Shannon Newth - MTN News
Updated: Jul 14, 2012 8:40 AM
CHOTEAU - Company chairman Pete Coors and his daughter Ashley met with Montana barley growers for the MillerCoors Field Day, marking an expanding relationship between Montana and the Colorado-based beer company.
"You can't make good bear without quality barley," said Dave Dougherty, who works for MillerCoors of Montana and Wyoming.
Montana farmers are supplying MillerCoors' barley, and the company is brewing up relationships with barley growers along the Triangle Fairfield bench.
Dougherty said demand is increasing. "So this is a great production area, and we want to be part of it. We have a fit for this barley, we're growing our business meeting our barley needs, this is one area we hadn't expanded into," he said.
It's a welcome partnership for more than 250 MillerCoors-contracted barley producers in Montana.
Meeting face to face with MillerCoors chairs strengthens the network, said Steve Becker, with the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee.
"Producers like the one on one relationship, they like to be able to meet the people they're growing for," Becker said.
Fairfield barley grower Mark Lacher agreed. "It shows that we're very important and they'd like to expand in this area in a major way," he said.
Lacher said the key to this quality land is irrigation, which is especially important this season with below normal moisture.
"It's extremely important to have water to obtain the malting characteristics," Lacher said.
Despite the dry conditions, Lacher says the market is reasonably strong and the farmland is valuable, a win-win situation expansion for growers and executives alike.
A little bit of the Treasure State might be in your next cold one.
"The beer starts here," Dougherty said.
The event also honored some farmers. Marty Klinker, of Fairfield, received the Northern Montana Region Top Grower Award for barley quality, and Herb Karst, of Sweetgrass, was given the 40 year grower award.
PHOTO: Irrigated barley field near Fairfield, from the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee site.