Like it or not, another big city arrival is making local inroads in Bozeman: $5 pricing on pints of micro-brewed craft beer.

That’s according to numbers compiled for the second-annual Chronicle beer price index, where this intrepid reporter uses the slow news days of late December to call around and ask local bars what they’re charging for a pint of Bozeman Brewing Co.’s Amber Ale.

As was the case last year, the typical price for a glass of good craft beer in Bozeman is just about $4, though more places are selling on the high side of that mark than below it.

But prices are rising — and faster than overall inflation. The average pint price, $4.19, is up by 15 cents over last year, or 3.9 percent.

In comparison, the federal government’s consumer price index, its holistic inflation measure, increased by 1.7 percent between November 2015 and 2016.

(It turns out that 3.9 percent figure is close to the city’s current 4.9 percent annual population growth rate. If both trends continue at constant rate for the next decade, Bozeman will have 23,000 more people and the average beer will cost $6.14.)

About a third of the city’s establishments have raised their prices over the last year, most bumping the cost of a pint up by 25 or 50 cents. As a result, my count has the number of bars and restaurants serving $5 pints up from two to five, including higher-end downtown mainstays like Montana Aleworks.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Mixers Club now appears to have edged out the venerable Scoop Bar in offering the cheapest Bozone Amber in town.

While the Scoop topped the bargain charts with its $2.75 Bozone pints last year, a 50 cent price increase edges it into second-from-the-bottom position. Mixers is now the only establishment in town that sells glasses of the local microbrew for $3 or less.

On the supply side, Bozeman Brewing Co. owner Todd Scott said this week that the company has held the line on what its charges for beer sold for distribution to bars and grocers — despite fluctuations, often upward, in the prices of materials like barley and hops.

“We haven’t raised our prices in several years,” he said. “That’s something we’ve worked really hard at maintaining.”

For the record, pints of Amber at the Bozone’s tasting room remain the $4 a glass that’s standard on-site at most of the city’s breweries — this year and last.

Some final notes on the methodology here: For establishments that don’t sell Bozone Amber, I recorded the price charged for a comparable beer. I did my best to avoid happy hour or special pricing, but didn’t make an effort to track which bars are selling beer in full 16-oz pints, as opposed to smaller glasses.

I’ve also excluded places that don’t keep beers on tap, as well as establishments like casinos, golf courses and restaurants serving under a cabaret license (which, as I understand Montana’s liquor law, means they’re not supposed to sell alcohol without food). I also omitted a few establishments — Colonel Black’s, Zocalo and White Dog Brewing Co. — that I couldn’t get to pick up the phone.

Establishment Dec. 2015 Dec. 2016 Change
Montana Ale Works 4.50 5.00 + 0.50
Old Chicago 4.50 5.00 + 0.50
Rocking R Bar 4.50 5.00 + 0.50
Bar IX 5.00 5.00 -
The Bay 5.00 5.00 -
The Pour House 4.50 4.75 + 0.25
Bozeman Taproom* - 4.75 N/A
Buffalo Wild Wings 4.70 4.70 -
The Bacchus Pub* 4.00 4.50 + 0.50
14 North 4.00 4.50 + 0.50
Pub 317 4.25 4.50 + 0.25
Copper Whiskey 4.50 4.50 -
Midtown Tavern - 4.50 N/A
Red Chair 4.25 4.25 -
The Club at Best Western 4.00 4.25 + 0.25
The Cat's Paw 4.00 4.25 + 0.25
Applebee's 4.75 4.25 - 0.50
Bozeman Brewing Co. 4.00 4.00 -
The American Legion 4.00 4.00 -
Montana Outpost 4.00 4.00 -
Santa Fe Reds 4.00 4.00 -
The Cannery / Burger Bob's 4.00 4.00 -
The Haufbrau 4.00 4.00 -
Colombo's 4.00 4.00 -
The Filling Station 4.00 4.00 -
406 Brewing Co.* 4.00 4.00 -
Bridger Brewing* 4.00 4.00 -
Map Brewing Co.* 4.00 4.00 -
Bunkhouse Brewing* - 4.00 N/A
The Eagles 3.50 3.75 + 0.25
Outlaw Brewing* 3.75 3.75 -
Spectators** 3.75 - N/A
The Crystal 3.50 3.50 -
The Hide-A-Way Lounge 3.25 3.50 + 0.25
The Molly Brown 3.25 3.50 + 0.25
The Scoop 2.75 3.25 0.50
Mixers 3.00 3.00 -
AVERAGE 4.04 4.19 + 0.15

Eric Dietrich can be reached at 406-582-2628 or edietrich@dailychronicle.com. He is on Twitter at @eidietrich.

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