Did you know that the Olympia Beer slogan "It's The Water" originated in Montana?
Also, did you know that "High Life" beer started in Montana too?
Yeah... Me neither.
That is until I met Steve Lozar at the Kaispell Brewing Company this last winter. He was giving a special talk about Montana beer and brewing history to the members of the Demersville Drinking Club (KBC's mug club). He brought along several Montana beer artifacts from his personal historical collection.
Right away, I knew this guy was very interesting, and that his collection was something that I MUST PHOTOGRAPH. (Obviously...)
Luckily for me, he happily obliged. So I drove down the West side of Flathead Lake and met him at his shop in Polson.
When I arrived, I have to admit, I wasn't sure what I was going to see. Maybe he had a couple of crates full of beer memorabilia in the back room... Au Contraire...
He led me up the back stairs to a room above his screen printing shop. From the outside, I had no idea there was anything up there. Oh my. I have never seen anything quite like this magnificent collection. Not only does he have an EXQUISITE array of beer bottles and memorabilia, he also has an extensive archive of beer advertisements. They are meticulously categorized by region, and he knows all the stories of every little piece.
The best part is his deep knowledge of the subject, and that he has such great family ties in Montana brewing history.
If you like beer, especially Montana craft beer, and have any interest in historical stories... MAKE AN APPOINTMENT to see this place and talk to this man. You won't regret it.
Until then, enjoy some photographs of Steve and his collection, and a brief interview:
I grew up in a beer culture where beer was the table drink, thirst quencher and refresher when family visited after a day of work. I have been fascinated by the artwork associated with brewing and very drawn to history.
WHAT LED YOU TO START YOUR COLLECTION?
Initially it was the graphic and fine art that attracted me to it so I started keeping different brewery items that I found visually interesting. Also it (beer) was around me and easy to really study so many facets of the whole industry and process that I was drawn to learn more. I am a native Montanan and delight in any history of our state.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BEER?
My current favorite brews are the Bock from Kalispell, Old Stache Porter from Tamarack in Lakeside, Firetower Coffee Porter from Ten Mile Creek in Helena and Glacier Brewing Co.’s Slurry Bomber Stout. Note that these can change seasonally or when a different brew hits a particular taste bud that shouts “add me to the favorites list”!
IF YOU HAD TO RUN AWAY WITH A SINGLE ARTIFACT FROM YOUR COLLECTION, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would take my Great Grandfathers brass engraved Kessler Lorelei Beer tray from the 1800’s.
WHAT ARTIFACT IS MISSING FROM YOUR COLLECTION THAT YOU ARE ON THE HUNT FOR?
I would very much want a mint Kalispell Brewing and Malting steel corner sign or any 1800’s Montana Bock sign.
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING PIECE OF BEER TRIVIA THAT YOU KNOW?
What we call a ‘growler’ today is misnamed. The traditional name for a 64 ounce glass bottle to carry beer home in was called a ‘jug’. A growler was a mug made of copper and lead based solder that usually held around 16 ounces. It was constructed for each brewery worker by the brewery’s ‘copper, the worker in charge of plumbing. By union contract with all Montana breweries at the turn of the century, each brewery worker was allowed to fill his growler 8 times per shift
WHAT IS THE MOST CLEVER BEER ADVERTISEMENT YOU'VE SEEN?
In 1933 with the repeal of Prohibition, the Missoula Brewing Company in an effort to bring beer back as a home beverage for the family, put out a 6 inch utensil that had a beer bottle opener on one end for dad and a spoon on the other end so dad could feed junior his pablum at the same time that he enjoyed his beer.
WHERE CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU NEXT (SPEAKING ENGAGEMENT, ETC)?
My next speaking engagement will be at the Imagine Nation Brewery this coming Friday March 25 on the subject of ‘The History of Women in Montana Brewery Advertising'.
FOR THOSE THAT JUST HAVE TO SEE YOUR COLLECTION, WHAT IS THE BEST WAY FOR THEM TO FIND YOU?
To see the museum, stop at Total Screen Design in Polson. The best museum tour is conducted personally by me. I can be reached for a personal tour at;
406-270-7672 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SOME THOUGHTS FROM STEVE:
I have spent literally a lifetime amassing the collection as I started as a little kid and am now 67 years old.
Because I started so young when mint condition brewery items, now called breweriana, were much more easily accessible I would often have duplicate items since very few people had any interest in them as a collectible. I would trade duplicates for pieces I did not have. I still do the same thing today, although it is very hard to find a quality piece that is still affordable to folks like me.