History of Wildwood Brewing

 

Jim Lueders, Patriarch

Wildwood Brewing began as a dream in the mind of Jim Lueders, an emigrant from Chicago.

After moving to Montana in 1979 to be schooled, he started homebrewing in 1981.

In 1987 he was hired as assistant brewer at the Bayern Brewery in Missoula and thus began his commercial application.

In 1990 he shipped himself off to Munich, Germany and spent the next 9 months, with nothing more than weekends free, studying brewing, malting, and soft drink technology at the prestigious Doemens Acadamy.

To pay for this expensive endeavor he shipped over his 1952 Chevy pick up truck, which he meticulously restored over the past two years, and sold it just a week before graduation.

After finishing at Doemens, Mr. Lueders went on a tour through 12 countries getting behind the scenes tours of nearly 100 breweries and related facilities.

Upon returning to the USA, Jim found himself in demand in the young craft brewing industry which was growing fast.

He was first hired as start-up consultant and head of production for the Saxer Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon in 1993. This is where he first set up the beautiful German made brewery which would later become his own brewery in it’s new home at Wildwood.

At Saxer Lueders’ remembers brewing 3 decoction brews by himself in 18 hours. With youth still on his side he left Saxer to continue consulting for brewery start-ups across the US and overseas.

 

The Wildwood Project

The Wildwood project started in earnest in 2002 when Lueders’ bought all what was left of the Saxer Brewery from his past employer.

That same year Lueders’ completed a training certification class with Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives (ZERI.ORG).

Jim, under the tudelage of the renown Prof. George Chan and Prof. Gunter Pauli, designed and dimensioned the integrated system which will bring the Wildwood project towards sustainability.

A suitable, and affordable site was found in the Bitterroot Valley, near Stevensville, just 24 miles south of Missoula.

Construction began in fall of 2008 with the pouring of the concrete which utilizes as much waste fly ash from the Eastern Montana coal burning power plants as we could put into it.

In Spring of 2009, the timber frame structure, salvaged from a Wisconsin barn originally built in 1901, was put back together at its’ new home.

The roof system was completed using metal from 100% recycled material and made in Missoula.

Locally available wheat straw bales were used as insulation exterior of the frame, nearly 800 of them in total.

By fall of that year the bale walls were competed and plastered.

The inside of the building was finished in early 2011 and the brewing tanks and equipment started to come into the building in February.

The building of the brewery took nearly a year since Lueders’ had to have everything a certain way and did much of the work himself.

Operations began in late January 2012 with the brewing of a Mai Bock which was labeled Bodacious Bock.

The first brew, a keeper.

Subsequent brews were, in order, Discerning Pilsner, Mystical Stout, White Bark Wheat, and Ambitious Lager.
Wildwood quietly opened its doors on March 16, 2012.

Read more about the state-of-the-art brewery at Wildwood.