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Bucked, Twisted and Stomped

by Alayna Johnson
June 28, 2024

Montana Craft Malt Brand Storylines:

How Everything You Need to Know About Craft Brewing, You Can Learn at The Livingston Roundup

Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2024!

The Livingston Roundup is Montana’s oldest rodeo, bringing cowboys and cowgirls to southwestern Park County for a chance at hard-won prizes and glory. Broncs and bulls with names like Bushwacker, Bodacious and Avalanche ultimately sort out the gritty details of the competition.

While craft brewing and Montana rodeo may seem a world apart, the lessons learned in that fairground’s arena offer great reminders to those of us who love craft brewing.

Never Stop Learning
Local stockmen are constantly honing their skills, learning from each run and seeking to improve. It’s the difference between being in the prize money and being listed as an also-rode. Their pursuit to get one more notch better is mirrored in the craft brewing world. Seeking out new tips and techniques from those who’ve already ridden are the keys to staying upright.

You Only Score When You’re Creative
Creativity is at the heart of rodeo and brewing. In both, competitors have a high technical proficiency. But to win the attention of judges and the adoration of fans, there needs to be some flair, expression and charisma. A routine ride of unremarkable Hazy IPA, or a yawn-inducing Pilsner isn’t going to survive the rounds. Proficiency earns brewers a chance in the market arena. Charisma sets beers apart.

Ride Your Draw
There’s an inherently unpredictable nature to brewing and rodeoing. Cowboys often get a tough draw, like a bull that wants to wheel fast when the score demands a showstopping kick. These past few years, craft brewers likewise suffered a tough draw when a pandemic chucked everyone’s plans out the window. And too much competition. And a lot of price pressure. And so-much-sameness in products. So if we’re going to have to our place in the market, we have to gain extra points somehow. Being ordinary won’t cut it when pushing boundaries is required.

Stay Close to the Beast
In rodeo, staying close to the beast is critical for control. You hunker, sense and anticipate. For brewers, that beast is the brewing process itself.  Sometimes ornery, moody and temperamental, your brewing – like our malting process – simultaneously requires a firm grip and a light touch, to be monitored carefully at every step. And when things start to happen, balance, flexibility, coordination, quick reflexes and a good mental attitude are what pay the bills.

Be Fearless
Whether you’re barrel racing or bronc’ing, stepping into the arena requires courage and a willingness to face the unknown. Success and failures play out in front of others. Similarly, craft brewing demands a willingness to experiment, try the unconventional and wrestle with failure. Trusting a combination of practiced skills, learned experience and raw instinct, great brewers take bold steps.

It’s a Family After All
The rodeo community is known for its tight-knit, supportive nature, forged by a shared experience not always understood by those on the other side of the rail. The craft brewing community is much the same. At our best, we collaborate, share knowledge, celebrate and support one another. Building relationships within the brewing community provides invaluable support and inspiration. Often it’s not just about the beer; it’s about the people who share this passion.

Get Up and Dust Yourself Off
Throughout the pandemic, and now an inflationary economy, craft brewers have been bucked and stomped. If nothing else, we’ve all learned resilience. But the future is demanding experimentation, exploration and differentiation, often associated with risk.

In fact, the greatest risk is to not dare, resulting in commodified, fresh-brewed sameness.

Sometimes cowboys fall off, or miss with a rope. And in brewing, not every batch will be a winner. But we keep trying new things. Because it’s how craft brewing responds that matters.

The Livingston Roundup returns to showcase the greatness of Montana, over the July 4th Holiday week.

Find out more! https://livingstonroundup.com/

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