-Mari Hall reporting for the Missoula Current
MISSOULA – The concept behind Level Up Brewing can be explained in a simple venn diagram, with overlapping circles labeled “Board Game Fans” and “Craft Beer Fans.”
The area where those circles intersect represents the beer drinkers who love playing board games, and that’s where Naomi and Tim Gerheim want to build their board game brewery.
Not only would Level Up Brewing be a first for Missoula, but also for Montana and, in fact, the nation, the Gerheims said.
“We’re excited about building a community around people who love to do some of the same things, and just to have something to do when you go to a brewery other than sit there with a beer in one hand and a phone in the other, not talking to each other,” Naomi Gerheim said.
The brewery will provide hundreds of board games for its patrons’ use, as well as a number of beers made from home recipes. Tim Gerheim has more than a decade of experience brewing beer.
Right now, the Gerheims are looking for a location, which may be within Southgate Mall.
“The board game industry has not failed to increase by less than 10 percent every year,” Naomi Gerheim said. “It’s really undergoing a renaissance.”
Tim Gerheim and a friend were playing a card game when they came up with the idea for an arcade brewery in Missoula. After Gild announced plans for an arcade in the basement of its new Hip Strip brewery, the Gerheims shifted their focus to board games.
In 2017, Naomi Gerheim went to the Last Best Conference and pitched the business idea, and from there, the pieces all started fitting together. Now, they’re working on logistics and plan to open within the next year during MisCon, Missoula’s science fiction and fantasy convention.
The business will also be a meeting place where organizations can host charity pint nights and other events.
“Being a brewery in a way is sort of secondary,” Tim Gerheim said. “So we’re not trying to be another brewery. I think it’s the kind of establishment that people want to have here, but have no idea that they want to have it.”
Playing table games has been a tradition in pubs for years, but was challenged in recent years by technological changes. Now interest in traditional games is returning.
Soon, both beer fans and board game fans will have a place to come together, at least in Missoula. Those who may not know they’re nerds at heart are encouraged to explore the many games the brewery will offer.
“If you look back at pubs of the old days, they’d have games,” Naomi Gerheim said. “They would talk and they’d come up with their own games. Hundreds of years ago, people were using games as a way to come together, and that’s what we want to do.”
Contact reporter Mari Hall via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.