MISSOULA – To help celebrate the 125th anniversary of its founding next year, the University of Montana has licensed Big Sky Brewing Company, the state’s largest microbrewery, to create a new beer called Griz Montana Lager. The product hit shelves Aug. 22 and will be available through next spring.
Bjorn Nabozney, co-founder of Big Sky Brewing and a 1993 graduate of UM’s School of Business Administration, described the beer, a Bohemian-style pilsner, as “crisp and refreshing, which works well with a variety of foods or backyard barbecues.”
A portion of sales of the officially licensed UM product will benefit University student-focused wellness and Associated Students of UM transportation programs, as well as community outreach efforts.
“UM is a major asset to Missoula and the region, and we want to do everything we can to help the University succeed,” Nabozney said. “We thought this partnership was a wonderful way to market a new product and give back to a great institution at the same time.”
He wrote the original business plan for Big Sky Brewing in a UM finance class. Then he, Neal Leathers and Brad Robinson went on to launch Big Sky in 1995. The company now employs 40 workers and sells 43,000 barrels of beer a year in 24 states. Some of the company’s signature brands include Moose Drool, Summer Honey and Big Sky I.P.A.
The new brew features a grizzly bear designed by UM graphic designer Neal Wiegert. The initial run will be available across western Montana and select UM markets within Big Sky Brewing’s national territory. In addition to cans, kegs and wearable merchandise also will be available.
Erika Palmer, UM’s trademarks and licensing director, said the University works with a variety of vendors to creatively market UM-affiliated products. A portion of proceeds are passed on to the University as revenue.
“Big Sky Brewing is a major success story for the University of Montana and our state,” UM Chief Marketing Officer Mario Schulzke said. “Through this collaboration, our alumni here and across the country can celebrate the University’s anniversary and support our students by enjoying a cold can of Griz Montana Lager.”
A promotional video about the new lager is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhS_quyi-VQ