Guzzlers of brew, brace yourselves - Bozeman's about to get a new craft-beer locale.

Matt Muth, owner of 406 Brewing Company, said his business could open as early as the end of January. Located on Oak Street near the fairgrounds, it'll be the first in-town competition since the Bozeman Brewing Company opened nine years ago.

"I'm stoked," said beer drinker Pennie Allsop, 25, as she sipped a Bozone beer at Bozeman Brewing on North Broadway Avenue Thursday evening. "We'll have more beer and more choices."

Todd Scott, owner of Bozeman Brewing, said he welcomes the new business. In fact, he said, he's been "razzing" Muth about when he's going to open the doors, and has offered to help get the brewery up and going.

"There's no cutthroat attitude," Scott said. "That's the beauty of the craft-beer business as a whole. It's a fraternal organization."

In fact, Muth's already well-acquainted with Scott and Madison River Brewing Company's Howard McMurry. Muth started his brewing career by washing kegs at Madison River in Belgrade, working there and at Bozeman Brewing Company for a combined five to six years.

But now, he's setting out on his own. Muth said it's always been a dream of his to run a brewery, and he finally has the opportunity to make it happen.

"I wasn't going to let life pass me by," he said.

Muth began brewing home beers with a buddy while in college, and said he's "never looked back."

But will Bozeman be able to support a second brewery?

"The pool is big enough for all of us to swim in," Scott said, adding that his business is growing in a down economy, which is a good sign.

McMurry said Madison River just got two new tanks this week to increase production.

"We're growing just like everybody else," he said. "Everybody drinks beer in good or bad times."

Scott said another brewery would help widen the circle of ‘knowledge, patrons, and craft-beer aficionados."

Having a brewing community enables an exchange of information and ingredients, he said.

For example, Scott said there have been numerous times when he's run out of key ingredients like yeast, malt or hops. In those cases, he's called up McMurry and been able to run over and borrow what was needed.

"It's the more the merrier in many regards," said Tony Herbert, executive director of the Montana Brewers Association.

There are currently 26 registered breweries in the state of Montana, he said. And, as of 2008, the Treasure State had the second greatest number of breweries per capita, right behind Vermont.

"Craft brewing is becoming popular as people seem to be interested in having a variety of choices, and they like the local aspect," Herbert said. "There's been success in the business nationally, and Montana brewers have followed that trend."

Muth said in his brewery, the emphasis will be on the tasting room. He wants to start brewing later in the day so people can experience the smells and sights, and said he has "tons of recipes in mind." He plans to start with some seasonal winter brews at first.

Muth envisions having a blackboard in the tasting room where patrons can write recipe ideas and potential beer names. The brewery may also have beer-incorporated food, such as pizza with an India Pale Ale crust or beer bread.

But first things first - he's got to open the place.

This week, he was busy preparing the locale's interior, dreaming up a logo and pondering what the first 406 Brewing Company beers will be.

"It's a lot of fun and I haven't even started brewing yet," he said.

Carly Flandro can be reached at 582.2638 or