I recently had an opportunity to attend another TBEX travel bloggers conference.
It was in Billings, Montana and I got to know the locals via a couple of my favorite things: hiking and beer! (Which usually SHOULD be in that order!)
Located on a plateau 2 miles east of downtown Billings, Four Dances Recreation Area offers fantastic views of Billings and a chance to see some birds of prey while hiking around. The area was named after Chief Four Dances, an important religious and military figure in the history of the Crow Nation. There is a parking lot with restrooms and signage and an older gentleman that works there for the bureau of land management. He’ll give you a free trail map. He’s also a local historian, so he’ll also answer any questions you might have about anything pertaining to the Billings area. I found him quite charming and fascinating and he talked to me a lot about the old gold rush days in Billings.
A quarter mile footpath leads to the top of a rimrock wall overlooking the Yellowstone River. The plateau is edged with cliffs that drop 200-500 feet down to the river. Overall, it’s an easy hike and to do the entire loop is approximately 1.5 miles. For photos, you’ll get a lot of “bang for your buck” here in a short amount of time and minimal exertion.
But what the heck, you’ve done a hike in nature in Billings! Now, you’re thirsty and it’s time to head to downtown Billings to walk the famous Brew Trail. This self-guided tour is made up of six breweries, two distilleries and one cider house, all within easy walking distance. Take this 1.5-mile brewery route and enjoy historic sites along the way.
Here’s an overview of the 4 places on the trail that I visited:
“The Garage” at Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company features a variety of tasty craft microbrews. Award-winning brews including Black Widow Oatmeal Stout, Wild Fly Ale, Numbskull IPA, Buffalo Bill Cody Rye Beer, Grizzly Wulff Wheat, Renegade Red, Huckleweizen, and a hearty Wooley Bugger (Grand Cru) Root Beer. Next door’s Spirit of Montana Distilling with Cliffhanger Vodka and their unfiltered 40 Love Gin! It’s a big place that has live original music every Saturday, sometimes Wednesday, and Open-Mic Tuesdays
Last Chance Pub and Cider Mill. It was here where it was explained to me that a pub, or public house, is an establishment licensed to sell alcoholic drinks, which traditionally include beer, ale and other brewed alcoholic drinks. It is a relaxed, social drinking establishment and in many places, especially in villages, a pub is the focal point of the community. Samuel Pepys described the pub as the heart of England. The Last Chance Pub’s aim is to create a vibrant, comfortable atmosphere that encourages appreciation of elevated cuisine and libations.
The rear (North side) of their interior is the production facility – the cider mill. The key for them to great cider is using ripe, hand-picked fruit and they have a massive cooler full of it. They source their apples exclusively from Montana and Michigan and consider them to be some of the best in the world. They press their apples on Wednesdays between October and March so go there and watch the process, or better yet contact them and schedule a time to go there and help yourself.
Uber Brew won the 2016 Small Brewery & Brewer of The Year. Uberbrew serves superlative pints of beer with colorful pub food in beautiful downtown Billings Montana.
It was here that I learned about The Crowler, which is quickly growing in popularity as a better way of taking craft brews home
Essentially, a Crowler is a giant, 32 oz. can. These oversized containers can be filled on any ordinary tap line, but the catch is that you have to have a Crowler sealing machine to cap it. The machines make it possible to fill and seal a Crowler in just a few seconds
Beer’s least favorite things are UV rays and permeating oxygen. Cans offer protection from both, whereas glass bottles let light touch your beer, and even if you can’t see or hear it, they let oxygen both in and out of your beer through small gaps in the cap, flip-top, or screw-on
The Crowler is the answer for the active beer drinker’s adventuresome woes!
Thirsty Street is a laid-back microbrewery offering all natural, unfiltered, keg conditioned brews. Montana made hot dogs and sausages. Their flagships are Good Time Belgian Blonde and Big Bison Stout. They have a nice game room with pool and shuffleboard. ,
So whether you add Billings, MT on to your itinerary as an extension while visiting Montana’s Yellowstone National Park or Glacier National Park, or you come to Billings as your core trip focus (Billings has 45 miles of multi-use trails for biking, dog walking, or any other activity you might enjoy and lots of Western History such as the nearby Little Bighorn Battlefield made famous by Custer’s Last Stand), you’ll enjoy the laid back atmosphere, the hospitable locals, as well as a foodie scene on par with the offerings of much larger cities.. darts, and big screen TV, will keep you entertained!
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness and Health Coach “Get Fit with Witt” Individuals / Groups / Corporate
310.562.5629 Cell / 818.760.3891 Main Twitter / Instagram /LinkedIn / YouTube My latest book – “Fitness and Anti-Aging Secrets” Click here
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