Local brewery pays it forward for firefighters


MISSOULA,Mont. - The Great Burn Brewery has been around since 2013. It's a family-owned business that crafts their own beers.

The brewery hosted an event to give thanks to all the firefighters for what they did to help with one of the worst fire seasons Montana has seen.

"It's a great way to give back to the firefighting community," said Greg Howard, owner and general manager of Great Burn.

Howard, his wife, Diana, and his brother Mike are all owners of the brewery. They lost a brother, Chad, to cancer in 2009. Chad was a Lolo Hotshot, and that is why they open their brewery up to the firefighters.

The brewery got its name from Chad's experience fighting fires.

"We're trying to think, what is a great name for a place, and Chad had spent a lot of time in the Great Burn, before he fought fires he worked on a crew," said Howard.

J.D. Bauman, a fire technician, is glad to have a place to unwind after a long fire season.

"It's just a good way to decompress after a long season, people can get together and talk about their experiences and how the season went for them," said Bauman.

The brewery had a potluck dinner and free beers for the firefighters. Howard believes his brother would be proud of the guys.

"He would have been totally psyched, and he would be right here with us if he were still alive. It was kind of our dream of the three brothers to do something in the craft beer industry, and I'm really psyched the youngest brother knew how to brew beer," said Howard.

Jennifer Wright later joined the team, and now the Brewery has a team of four. The team believes the name Great Burn Brewing encapsulates Chad's life -- firefighting and ruggedness.

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