Bridger is your much-anticipated 5 o’clock classroom. Both students and professors convene in the warm and inviting spot just a hop and skip from campus to chat over stellar beer and spectacular pizza. Walking in, patrons are greeted by rustic wood floors, a timbered industrial high ceiling and glistening fermentation tanks. Walls adorned with skis and local photography give it a distinctly Bozeman feel. The brewery is noisy with conversation, but not loud, and club meetings are as common as family dinners among these friendly tables.
But no one goes to Bridger only to bask in the ambiance — it is a brewery, after all. Bridger offers a palette of unique beers that rotate frequently. “We take a lot of pride in the diversity of the styles we offer,” commented David Breck, owner and general manager. They all have less than 10 parts per million of gluten, which makes their beers accessible to nearly anyone.
Bridger has made themselves known for their unique ingredients. Their upcoming fall ale is an imperial brown brewed with dark chocolate cocoa nibs and fresh and dried chilis. And recently Bridger has started using a Randall infuser to reinvigorate certain beers post-tap with fresh hops.
By far our favorite libation offering is the coffee stout. Toasty and rich, the beer woos the drinker with intense but smooth flavors of deep arabica with chocolate ribbons. Indeed, this Rwanda Abakundakawa brew is not unlike a scoop of ice cream. The startlingly strong flavor and high carbonation scrape across the tongue as if frozen, only to melt and take on a creamy texture.
Bridger’s other brews are also fantastic. You’ll find a unique companion in the Bobcat Brown: a thinner, almost citrusy dark ale. Sweet and smooth, it has an immaculately clean finish that unequivocally blows away the famous Montana commodity Moose Drool.
If you’re sacrilegious — er — not a beer-drinker, don’t worry. Bridger, the first full-service brewery in Bozeman, has spectacular food to complement their remarkable beer. There’s a lot of notable pizza in Bozeman: MacKenzie River, Red Tractor and Tarantinos, but – and this is a big claim — Bridger is home to Bozeman’s best pizza. They aren’t just the most sophisticated pizzas (with toppings like bison pepperoni, lamb sausage, Cajun shredded chicken and roasted pepper pesto), but Bridger’s haute pies are perfectly executed and consistently blow away the local competition. Breck expressed that Bridger’s main goal is to provide “craft beer with craft pizza.” Without a doubt, they’ve nailed it.