Exhibit: Montana Brewery Oral History Project

About the Project


The Montana Brewery Oral History Project was established in 2016 by Anneliese Warhank, Archivist and Oral Historian at the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Its aim was to gather the stories from those individuals who worked in the brewing industry prior to and during the legislative debates surrounding the legalization of on-site sales. In the 1980's and 90's although breweries in surrounding states could sell full size pints directly to their customers through taprooms, Montana law prohibited the on-site sale (a residual effect of Prohibition). Something needed to change, so beginning in the 1995 Montana Legislative session a small group of Montana brewers brought forth a bill to modify the law. This bill was strongly opposed by the tavern owners of the state, who wanted to protect the interests of their own industry. The bill was defeated in 1995 and once more in 1997. It was not until an agreement was made with the Montana Taverns Association during the 1999 session that a revised version of the bill was passed into law. 

While the first two interviews were conducted by Anneliese in 2016, a $4500 grant from Humanities Montana allowed the project to expand. An advisory board, comprised of members of the Montana brewing industry and Montana historians met in early 2017 to define the main interview topics and to identify potential individuals to interviews. With the assistance of a contract oral historian, an additional 18 interviews were conducted during the following spring and summer. A contract transcriptionist transcribed those 18 interviews in their entirety. All participants were given the opportunity to review these transcripts before they were posted online.

All 20 interviews, transcripts, and additional photographs can be accessed in person at the Montana Historical Society Research Center.

About the Project