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Ronan Cooperative Brewery holds member meeting

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RONAN — Members of Montana’s first cooperative brewery crowded into the Ronan taphouse for its third annual member meeting on March 3. 

The Ronan Cooperative Brewery now has over 500 owners who contribute to keep it running, over 100 more than the previous year, and a couple dozen turned up for the meeting – which was accompanied by a street closure happy hour – both in person and over zoom. 

The meeting gave the board the opportunity to tout some of the achievements the brewery made in 2022. For instance, the Co-op’s Dunkles Bock and Schwarzbier both won medals at the North American Beer Awards, along with four other brew fest awards across the state. 

Financially, the brewery is making progress as well. According to the financial report done by RCB Finance Committee members Monty Cheff, Larry Hall, and Jesse Gray, while still not profitable, the Co-op was able to achieve cash equity to meet all their bills. With total sales coming in at $181,155 – a 20% increase over 2021 sales – cost of goods at $45,279, and total expenses at $264,438 – a decrease from 2021 by 20% – the brewery only lost $28,563. “If 500 of our members bought 15 more beers this past year, we would have breakeven,” the committee wrote in their report. “The value of continued owner support cannot be stressed enough, and we want to thank all our dedicated members for helping us succeed so far.” 

On the HR and marketing sides of things, the board members acknowledged the departure of former Event Coordinator and Taproom Manager, Eric Brunet, whose duties have now been passed onto Head Brewer Jim Myers. 

“Jim is really the heart of this operation and he’s doing a great job,” one board member commented. Myers will be selecting a lead server among the serving staff to help with brewery responsibilities.

“I’m excited about going into the summer,” Myers commented. “We’ve got some momentum … and really the most important thing about these (upcoming) events is we get back to the mission of drawing people into downtown Ronan.”

The marketing committee is also in the process of applying for a grant for $5,000 for marketing specifically, which will allow the cooperative to put up a new billboard. They’ll also use the additional funds to contract with the person who made their initial market plan to create a new campaign to generate patrons from outside of Ronan as well. 

During the meeting, brewery members were also able to vote to fill five available slots within the board of directors. Some applicants were new and other were looking to continue their duties. The elected board members are Monty Cheff, Dale Engstrom, Carlee Schnase, Colin Smith, and Til Tullis. 

With upcoming summer events and new ways generated to bring food to patrons, the board members were optimistic about the upcoming year at the brewery. Two additional members joined the brewery on the night of the meeting and board members challenged everyone to keep their support strong and get involved. 

“We’re really moving along in the way of membership,” board member Larry Hall commented. “I challenge everyone here to buy at least one share this coming year … What that does is it allows us to plan improvements and make our equipment even better.” 

“(If) you have an idea, we want you here helping us,” board president Jesse Gray said. “We have a lot of committees … if you have any interest and you would like to help, please come help us.” 

To learn more about becoming a member of the brewery, or about ways to get involved, visit: 

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