Mountains Walking Brewery & Pub
Taylor Owens | Friday Dec. 1st, 2023
Nestled in the up-and- coming Northside neighborhood of Bozeman, Mountains Walking Brewery stands as a testament to the vibrant craft beer culture flourishing in the area. Owned and curated by Gustav Dose and his partner Sarah MacDonald, this brewery has become a focal point for both locals and visitors seeking a comfortable, satisfying beer and food experience.
At Mountains Walking, you can expect to find all types of beers. With over 20 taps, you’ll discover entirely new flavors, and enjoy beers that couldn’t come from anywhere except Bozeman. From classic pilsners and lagers to IPAs and sour beers, there’s always something new to try out at the brewery. I sat down with Dose to chat about Mountains Walking, and offerings to look forward to this winter season.
Taylor Owens: How was Mountains Walking Brewery & Pub conceptualized?
Gustav Dose: I studied Asian philosophy a lot. I grew up in Tokyo and in Asia and I’ve always been interested in Eastern philosophies like Buddhism, and Taoism. I grew up studying that stuff, and martial arts. The name Mountains Walking comes from a book called The Shobogenzo, which was written by a Japanese philosopher. And without getting too into the weeds, one of the chapters is called “The Mountain and Rivers Sutra,” and Dogen is the philosopher who wrote that book in, like, the ninth century. I’m kind of grabbing that from my head. I can’t remember exactly, but he writes about how you understand your own walk. You begin to understand your own walking, and you understand the mountains walking. And it’s a little bit of a curve ball because, you know, I guess it kind of points out the transience of a lot of things and how everything is always moving—to me anyway, always moving, always changing. We’re walking, and mountains are walking. There really isn’t separation, but it’s also what I love about something like this, how it engages people, and it’s just like mountains walking. You know, maybe it’ll draw you in, maybe not, but it’s not like if we were called “Purple Dog.” Okay, we’re Purple Dog and that’s it. But Mountains Walking is kind of engaging and it’s kind of fun. And I think that’s what I really like about it.
TO: What would you like people to experience when they walk through the doors?
GD: I think just a sense of comfort. You know, I had this place designed [the way] a lot of breweries and beer halls I’ve worked for are. German breweries, sometimes beer halls, and tap rooms can be cavernous, echoey and big. And I think that’s really cool. But I think what I really wanted was to go in a different direction and really have it be intimate. And so, when you walk in, you’re not sure what it is actually when you come in. It’s a very engineered small space with a lot of sound dampening, a lot of speakers. So you can kind of hear the music, but also hear when you’re talking in this place. If you’ve been here when it’s quite busy, you kind of get the sense that it’s busy, but it’s not like you can’t still talk. You can still engage with who you’re with fairly comfortably, because of the space. So yeah, I guess a level of comfort and ease. I want people to feel like they’re coming here to spend money on a beer or pizza, or whatever, and I want it to be comfortable.
TO: Do you have a food or drink that regulars keep coming back for?
GD: Our best seller, beer-wise, has been Grazing Clouds, a hazy IPA. What I really like about it is we focus on New Zealand hops for a lot of our beers. It’s my favorite. I love New Zealand hops. Pests don’t grow in New Zealand, so they’re all 100% organic and good. But I really like delicate, fruity, floral types of flavors. American hops are just as good, not better or worse. But they tend to be a little more bitter, a little more in your face. Not necessarily a bad IPA, that’s just my taste. So, I really like the Raising Clouds. When we started this, I thought it would be cool. I didn’t come from a restaurant background. I’ve been in breweries, including this one, for almost 20 years as a brewer and other stuff. It was a learning experience, but I thought it would be cool if we did one food item well. And I think that’s our pizzas. We spend a lot of time on them. We pull them from our dough; they are hand tossed and 100% wood fired. However, I think we’ve gotten a lot of publicity for our wings. And so I’m happy about that, as well. And I think everyone’s excited about it, too.
TO: Do you have a personal favorite menu item?
GD: Pizza. For sure.
TO: A specific pizza?
GD: No, not really; I like it all. Sometimes I feel like a basic pepperoni or margarita. Something simple is usually what I like.
TO: Do you have a favorite drink on the menu right now?
GD: It was probably Nice Fella. We just got it back on tap. And I really like how Nice Fellow has kind of evolved, where it’s an Italian Pilsner. I really like the Italian Pilsner because American brewers just grab the name “Italian Pilsner.” It doesn’t really taste like Italian Pilsner. People don’t really know what it is. It’s like a Peroni or whatever, but it doesn’t taste like a Peroni. I really like that American brewers have decided to call this dry hop, fruity Pilsner “Italian” for some reason. So Nice Fellow Italian Pilsner is my favorite right now.
TO: What would you say makes you unique in the local food scene?
GD: I thought Bozeman had some really cool high-end places, like Open Range and some other spots. Then, some really good barbecue type places. But I thought there was a bit of a void for the in-between. I thought we could kind of go in the middle with a little elevated food scene. We’re not really a restaurant because of our closing time at 7:45, but I really wanted it to be kind of elevated food, but also comfortable. I didn’t want to overthink things, so pizza, wings… then we got creative to see what sticks. When we started, there was a food item I really liked that I found in Portland, called tachos, and I noticed no one was serving them here. I was like ‘oh, let’s try tachos.’ Nachos are pretty ubiquitous, but it’s just tater tot nachos, so it’s not rocket science, but people love them. So that’s been kind of fun. Every time I come in, I hear people in the line excited about tachos.
TO: What do you personally enjoy most about being a part of the greater Bozeman community?
GD: I really like engaging with the public, and people that have become regulars. I’m really grateful for our neighbor, who’s dug me out of the snow a hundred times and really helped me when I was just a small, desperate business owner trying to survive. I’m really grateful for them, and for a lot of the charities and nonprofits that we work with. That has really been rewarding, and I think it’s just like where the rubber meets the road with all these people. So, that’s really what I’ve been grateful for.
TO: How long have you been in Bozeman?
GD: I’ve been here about 10 years; I moved here from Eastern Washington. I was there for about three years, and then I was in Asia. I was born in Taipei; my mother is Japanese. I grew up my whole life in places like Tokyo, Taipei, and China, but I went to college in San Diego. After college, I moved and just floated around all over New York for like seven years, and ended up back in Asia. But long story short, I’m almost 50 now, and I’ve been here about 10 years.
TO: Do you have anything coming up at Mountains Walking or in the community that you would like readers to know about?
GD: I’ve been working on this non-alcoholic tea program, because I’m super passionate about tea. The first iteration of that is coming out in a couple of months. I’ve been trying different things in different realms, and that has been really fun. We’re really small, so we can innovate and try different things here on tap.
TO: Would it be on-tap tea, or how would that work?
GD: I would say it would be mostly packaged. Like, a sparkling green tea type of thing. I’m obsessed with Japanese green tea, so it would be something like that. That sounds so tasty. In the wintertime, we have a special lager program that we’re going to have coming out when it starts snowing.
Surrounded by a beautiful view of the Bridgers, Mountains Walking Brewery is a hub of rotating beer offerings and creative dishes. Check out the brewery this winter to warm up on a chilly night with friends and family.