I spent this past President's Day weekend with my family, touring around our great state's Capital. This is something I deeply recommend for anyone in Montana, regardless of your political affiliation. This gave my wife and I a wonderful opportunity to show our kids, first hand, how and where the state's laws are crafted. I wanted them to come away with the understanding that making laws, like making beer and root beer, isn't an automatic thing. It takes effort, time, resources, and it takes a passionate person behind it; a maniac-on-a-mission!
We got the opportunity to sit in on a meeting of the Senate, bask in the regimental meeting structure, and hear opening debate on a bill; this one was about repealing the death penalty. While the meat of the debate was very deep and serious, the process was truly amazing to witness. The speed at which these bill votes were made was dizzying. Compton rappers have got nothing on the people running these meetings!
My interest in our state's law-making process is, admittedly, selfish in origin. I have been following the evolution of HB 400, increasing the legal amount of alcohol in Montana-made beer. I listened to the sponsor "make her case" before the House of Representatives, I heard the bill's opponents make (what I thought) were unrelated and arbitrary arguments, I got to see some humor and humanity from other House members. Truly fascinating. This bill is headed for the Senate, hopefully it'll receive positive votes there as well.
Anytime I go to Helena, I have to make a stop and pay homage at the historical Kessler Brewery (now a food distribution company). This brewery is located in west Helena and, directly adjacent to the brewery, is the Kessler family home. Unfortunately, this wonderful landmark is in very bad shape having had numerous episodes of vandalism and a fire on the top floor. Nonetheless, it is truly a thing of beauty. There is a big part of me that wants to buy this tarnished building, dump in my life's savings ($23.42) and refurbished it to it's original grandeur. I could see myself and my family living very happily in Helena. Only problem is that Helena-to-Polson commute would be a killer!
Not many are aware of the fact that Nicolas Kessler also ran a very successful brick factory. The Kessler bricks are present throughout Helena, I found quite a few in the pavement of the walking mall of downtown Helena, Last Chance Gulch. These bricks are quite large by today's standards. They are also blond in color and have a neat cross-hatch pattern on them. If you're quite lucky, you might find a smaller, red brick with the initials "N.K." in raised relief on the face. Literally a piece of history in your hand!
Helena, city of many faces and times. It's always good to get out of Dodge for a day or two, gets my creative juices going.
Until next time,
your humble brewer