Space Cowboy Bridger Brewing

Daniel Pollard, Brewmaster at Bridger Brewing, and Jake Teselle, owner of Crooked Yard Hops, celebrate the release a new beer in this 2019 Chronicle file photo.

One Bozeman brewery’s new beer batch promises to be out of this world — literally.

In one giant leap for breweries, Bozeman Brewing partnered with Crooked Yard Hops and Montana State University to launch all four primary beer components — malt, hops, yeast and water — into “the edge of space.” The mission came about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon.

To the group’s knowledge, they’re the first to successfully launch into space and retrieve all four ingredients, which have been used in Bridger’s latest brew, Space Cowboy Pale Ale. The beer was released Wednesday.

“The risk is, of course, you don’t know exactly where it’s going to land,” said Daniel Pollard, brewmaster and director of operations for Bridger.

To get the ingredients in the air, Pollard and Crooked Yard Hops owner Jake TeSelle asked for help from the Montana Space Grant Consortium and MSU students to use a Google balloon for the mission.

Pollard, TeSelle and students gathered at the Wheatland County Airport in Harlowton to launch the balloon into space on June 12. The winds all had to be just right to pull it off, Pollard said. Once the group released the balloon, it rose right into the stratosphere, at 106,011 feet.

The students were able to track the balloon with help from the Balloon Outreach, Research, Exploration and Landscape Imaging System program at MSU.

They didn’t know exactly where it would land, but it ended up near a road on their map, Pollard said. So the group loaded up onto a couple busses and drove out to a rancher’s field near Big Timber, knocked on his door and retrieved the balloon.

The ingredients were in lab-grade plastic containers so they wouldn’t break if the balloon popped. Everything was in the same condition it was before the space voyage, Pollard said. From there, ingredients were mixed into a batch to make Bridger’s Space Cowboy Pale Ale.

Some of the other hops used in the batch have space-related names, including Camas and Apollo hops, Pollard said. An American-style pale ale, he described it as being easy-drinking and having a piney, citrus-y aroma. Bridger made about 10 barrels of it, he said.

Overall, Pollard said Bridger and Crooked Yard Hops were excited to pull off the mission.

“We’re both pretty into space, whether it be sci-fi or real space missions,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is really surreal that we were able to do this.’”

Abby Lynes can be reached at or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.