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Montana Treasure: Bozeman's Julius Lehrkind Brewing celebrates its roots

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BOZEMAN - The Gallatin Valley's newest brewery can boast roots going back more than a century.

On a recent afternoon, Robert Lehrkind pours samples of the three inaugural beers of Julius Lehrkind Brewing. The brewery mixes modern craft brewing with the styles and traditions of Robert's great-great grandfather, Julius, who emigrated from Germany and settled in Bozeman at the turn of the 20th century. Julius started his eponymous brewery in 1895.

"He moved slowly and slowly westward until he found the right water profile for his beer, and he made it all the way here and he was like, "Yeah, this is it!" Robert says.

But Julius' brewery folded in 1922 with the passage of Prohibition.

"Prohibition pretty much killed him," Robert says. "It took his passion away and he kind of curled up and died within a few years."

Robert and his cousin decided to resurrect their ancestor's legacy. The newly relaunched Julius Lehrkind Brewing is starting with bottling and distribution in Bozeman, and a taproom in Livingston.

Robert brought in master brewer Doug Frey, who recently worked as head brewer at Madison River.

Frey and Lehrkind's roots in the Gallatin Valley connect in a very small-town Montana way - Frey's wife's grandfather worked for Julius Lehrkind in the original brewery, hauling ice in the days before refrigeration was available. 

Robert says he thinks his great-great-grandfather would be proud of the new brewery.

"All these years later, it is like coming full circle a little bit," Robert says. "I think he'd be proud, yes."

Julius Lehrkind Brewery's first line of beers include an IPA, a pale ale and a witbier

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