Valley Journal
Valley Journal

Ronan Cooperative Brewery revitalizes downtown, one brew at a time

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RONAN — Montana’s first cooperative brewery recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. 

Though the doors of the Ronan Cooperative Brewery have been open for 15 months, the business model of the Co-op, as the town affectionately calls it, was embraced by the community back in 2017. Proposed as a project to revitalize downtown Ronan, the brewery has come a long way since its inception.

“[The biggest transition] was going from opening a business to running a business. Developing a customer base - developing some outreach towards local restaurants and bars in the area,” RCB Head Brewer Jim Myers recalled.

As a cooperative owned by members of the town, citizens came together with the dual  purpose of creating a thriving business and a thriving Ronan. Over the last year, the brewery networked with several businesses in the area, allowing a supply of local food to their patrons and shared success with neighboring establishments. 

“I’ve known Jim for a while before he took over doing the beer,” Jasen Rodda, owner of Pizza Café, commented. “[Working with them] has been good. They come and get pizza sometimes. I sell one of their beers here. Forbidden City, I think it’s called.”

“It’s been great since they’ve opened,” said Meredith Trosper of Mere’s Magic Universe and Tea. “They’re good about cross promoting... I was getting new traffic because of them. They do social events, like I love how they do the Trivia Tuesdays and Music Mondays. It’s bringing new life.”

Many American Main Streets have struggled with the rise of online shopping, and Ronan has been no exception. The convenience and delivery of internet shopping certainly has its benefits, but the Co-op understands that what it brings to the community, what could revive downtown, cannot be purchased from a phone. 

It’s the experience. Weekly social events and special occasions put on at the Co-op give people in Ronan a reason to get outside their homes and gather together, even when winter is well underway. 

“It’s about striking that balance of having a variety of activities, but also providing that laid back, comfortable place for people to come,” RCB Taproom Manager Eric Brunet explained. “I’d like to see downtown Ronan come more alive, and I see us as playing a key role in that. Being a destination place, we can get more people interested in checking out other businesses downtown. Our biggest mission is to contribute to the revitalization of downtown Ronan. One thing that’s a proven commodity is beer.”

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