For Tim O’Leary, who owns KettleHouse Brewing Co. with his wife Suzy Rizza, the possibilities are somewhat endless at the 18-acre Bonner site where they’re building a new 23,000-square-foot brewing facility. With a gorgeous view of the mountains and a location just a few feet from the Blackfoot River, O’Leary has dreams of someday possibly having a bike camp, a community garden, a walking trail, and wind-power generation on the site. “All of these things are just, ‘If we won the lottery here’s what we’d do,’ but it’s such a great location to tell our story,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. We can do a lot of concepts here.”
While those are all just ideas, the new building’s layout is set in concrete — with crews literally pouring floors as other projects go on around them. Last year, KettleHouse’s two Missoula locations combined produced about 15,000 barrels of beer. O’Leary doesn’t have an opening date set, but the new “K3” location will produce about 20,000 barrels annually to begin with, with plenty of room to grow in the future.
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KettleHouse leases space at its other two locations — on Myrtle Street and North First Street — so this is the first time O’Leary has been able to own a facility and design it from the ground up to be efficient. “We always knew we needed to find a place that we own,” he said. “We never had a taproom problem, we had a production problem, and this is to solve that. And sink our roots into property that we own and can’t be bounced out of. And the other thing we’re able to do is really invest in some high-quality equipment.”
They’ve installed a well that will draw extremely clean water from the aquifer, and after it’s used to create beer, the leftovers will be purified by an on-site wastewater treatment facility. Someday, that may be used to water gardens. Situated at the farthest point upstream on the old Stimson Lumber Co. mill site, the brewery will be the latest addition to a once-neglected property that has been revitalized with new industrial businesses in the last few years.
CTA PROJECT DESIGNER/AIT JAKE ZANDER:
“The new KettleHouse Brewing location has been a fun and challenging project to work though due to the technical logistics specific to brewery equipment. The brewery building isn’t much more than a metal building, but along with Tim and Suzy, we decided to install (4) 8’x16″ windows that face Highway 200, providing views of the 25-foot-tall brewhouse (the four silo tanks that make the raw beer) and the 20-foot cellars that age the beer. From the small (future) tasting room, there will be windows facing the canning operation.
Future options being considered (though they likely won’t come to pass until related laws are changed) include adding a larger taproom to the front of the building along with a fire pit, and potentially even a boat ramp into the Blackfoot River.”
Main image by Tom Bauer of the Billings Gazette: Tim O’Leary, co-owner of KettleHouse Brewing Co., stands on the bank of the Blackfoot River next to the company’s brewing and canning facility under construction in Bonner. When completed, the location on the old Stimson Lumber Co. mill site will produce about 20,000 barrels of beer annually.