406 Brewing Company: Keeping the north side hopping

Unlike other local breweries, 406 Brewing — which opened its doors in 2011 — has no “signature beer.”

Owner Matt Muth had a lot of beers up his sleeve, “and we didn’t want to be stuck with flagships,” he explained. The experimental and ever-changing beer at 406 can be sampled in their taproom — the brewery doesn’t distribute  — on the north side of town.

The taproom is a large space with a casual vibe, cluttered with tall tables and a variety of leather and wooden stools. Patrons are offered a full view of 406’s brewing equipment, along with a hodgepodge of Montana-themed artwork and a shuffleboard table for tipsy recreation. When we visited, the taproom was quite busy, and people had a more casual vibe than at Bozeman or Bridger Brewing. A kitchen was installed a month ago and offers excellent pizza, salads and numerous appetizers. 406 also hosts live music most nights of the week.

As for the beer itself, the Runoff Brown Ale is a classic brown ale, malty and full-bodied, with pleasantly smoky notes. However, when we tried this beer, there was a strange, burnt flavor that lingered long after the sip and coated our mouths, having us reaching for our water glasses. But with some tweaking, this has the potential to be an excellent winter brew, especially as you watch the snow fall through the taproom’s towering windows.

This month, 406 offers an Octoberweissen that is surprisingly sessionable and refreshing. While light and fruity, the beer is upsettingly watery. As an autumnal beer, we found it rather unseasonal and superficial. Late fall demands a bolder beer and this flat ale feels more appropriate for July or August.

Naturally, Muth is enthusiastic about all of 406’s beers. Soon to arrive is the Maple Rye IPA, which uses organic Vermont maple syrup, as well as the thirteenth incarnation of the Hop Punch IPA. The amount of tweaking Mute does with his brews speaks to the meticulous nature of the brewing process at 406. He emphasized that brewing is a “craft,” and “always evolving, ever-changing. We try to be all around the board, be ever-creative, and always offer something new.” Even if 406’s beers aren’t always successful, we are optimistic that the brewery will continue refining their craft and create something that is truly memorable.