RONAN — The first community-owned brewery in Montana is officially up and running in downtown Ronan after 400 community members came together to help make their dream of having their own brewery a reality.
“Teachers, their business owners, there are just a lot of people who’re into the cooperative,” Ronan Cooperative Brewery board member Heidi Fleury told MTN News.
Community members in Ronan came together in 2016 to gather ideas on how to revitalize downtown and now, five years later, they have their own brewery.
“Ronan kind of offers one degree of separation for everybody,” said Ronan Cooperative Brewery Head Brewer Jim Myers.
Close to 400 members own shares of Ronan Cooperative Brewery which is the first community-owned brewery in Montana.
Fleury said it’s one of just 40 community-owned breweries in the United States.
“It is really neat to have a community-owned brewery, that also our head brewer is from the community. He’s lived here for quite a while and he and his wife own a business, it's nice to make new jobs that are reliable in our community as well,” said Fleury.
Myers has eight beers on tap including an IPA, Kolsch and stout brewed primarily with Montana ingredients. He noted the brewery gives beer lovers a chance to bond over something they love while showing pride in their community.
“It’s an experience, it’s not just going home with a bag with a product in it, now you’re coming down here to be around other people and a greater sense of community,” said Myers.
Myers said a share cost $250 to become a member and part-owner of the brewery and an elected nine-person board meets once a month to oversee finances.
“A brewery is a large investment, if you don’t have big investors then everybody’s kind of got to pitch in but we’ve been really fortunate that there’s still continued interest in that,” said Myers.
Fleury said the brewery plans to help revitalize downtown Ronan by attracting new businesses and visitors.
“And I’ve been in here where at least maybe 25 different people have come in the span of a weekend, who have said, you know I’ve driven past Ronan for the last 40 years and I’ve never turned down Main Street and I saw that beer sign and I was like we got to check this out,” said Fleury.
The brewery is located on Main Street in Ronan is open daily from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m.