Highlander Beer to expand under new president

MISSOULA, Mont. - While the pandemic brought challenges to many small business across the Treasure State, one Missoula beer company is expanding, and a woman is leading the charge. 

It's no secret Montana is known for its beer.

In 2019, C+R Research ranked Montana second for having the most breweries and largest economic impact per capita. 

Just last month, smartasset ranked Missoula 13th on the Best Cities for Beer Drinkers list. 

Part of what makes this industry so great, is the talented people within it. 

One of those people is Hannah Talbott. She's Highlander Beer's newest president. 

She brings extensive knowledge and 13 years of experience. She completed the World Brewing Academy Brewing Technology Program at the Siebel Institute in Chicago, has a Masters in Business Administration and is a Certified Cicerone.

On top of that, she's served in a variety of roles including as a brewer and CEO of a brewpub near Minneapolis. 

Talbott recognizes she's not the typical person you'd see running a brewery. She shared what it's been like to move up the ranks. 

"I think you're often very much underestimated, but it's a pretty opening and welcoming industry once you get in it and you can prove that you can do this job as good as a man," Talbott said. 

As president, she oversees the entire operation. One aspect being company culture and inclusion efforts. 

She said she felt like she really made it in the beer industry after getting hired at Highlander as general manager in 2017. As she now serves as president, she hopes others see they can do it too.

"It's a male dominated industry, but it's not only for men," Talbott said. "Women can be really successful in this industry and I want other women to know that. Know they can be in my shoes, at another brewery, doing the same thing and be just as successful."

Talbott's advice for anyone looking to get into beer is to get educated. Take any opportunity you can to learn something about the industry and surround yourself with mentors who can build you up. 

Looking ahead, Highlander Beer is expanding. It will be opening a second location in Salmon, Idaho later this year and expand distribution of canned beers into Idaho grocery stores. 

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