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From Gas to Beer — Old Station Brewing Co. Reopens the Nozzles

Old Station Brewing Co. owner Steve Neiffer talks about starting the business Friday during the brewery’s official busy opening.//Photo by Teresa Getten

After years of sitting, empty and collecting dust, subject to the extreme Montana weather conditions, the old Heltne’s station building on First Street is in service once again. The dust has been wiped down, the walls painted and scrubbed, pictures and fixtures have been hung.

This time, however, it’s no longer gasoline that flows out of the nozzles as it did in the structure’s gas station days, but a different liquid: 

Beer.

The Old Station Brewing Co. officially opened its doors Friday. By 6 p.m., the renovated building was packed with chatty and thirsty patrons enjoying home brews with names like Bullhook Pale, Old Drafty Kilt Scotch, and Twisted Axle IPA.

The Old Brewing Station is the realized vision of local home brewers Steve Neiffer and Jason Murri, who took their passion for brewing and started a business. Old Station is the second brewery in Havre, the other being Triple Dog Brewing Co. 

The reception was “crazy,” Murri said Friday, while taking a slight break from serving beer.

Yes, food is in the works, Neiffer and Murri said, probably a food truck. They’ll see how that pans out. 

Murri and Neiffer bought their brewing equipment in March of 2017 from a brewing company in Toldeo, Oregon that had shut its doors. Speaking of equipment, as the day was ending, Murri, who was wiping tables, said the next task is to install the dishwasher. He was tired of washing dishes. 

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

The building was designed by Cut Bank architect E. O’Hare for the Northwest Refining Company.  Danfield Heltne, who operated a local Mobil gas outlet in Havre, acquired the lease for the new station.  Construction started March of 1939 and the doors opened July 1, 1939.  Originally, the building consisted of where the two bays are facing east, along with the office area creating an “L” shape. In 1958, the former Dee’s Body Shop building, which was to the immediate west of Heltne’s, was demolished and an addition was put onto Heltne’s, this time facing north and south. -Mayer// Courtesy photo

 

When the building was constructed, Montana had many home-based refineries and marketed under local trade names. Grizzly gasoline was one such brand and Heltne’s sold it in the ’40s, Northwest Refining was bought by Carter Oil and later their brand, Oval E, was sold. In 1950, the name changed to Carter. In the 1960’s due to centralization of the petroleum industry, the brand names Humble and Enco were sold. In the early 70’s, Standard Oil consolidated its assets and Heltne’s offered Exxon products. Later, they offered Montana Refining Company products and sold them until Doug went out of business. The Heltne family purchased the building from the corporation in 1974. Mayer// Courtesy photo

 

Photo by Teresa Getten   

All background information has been provided by local historian and author, Emily Mayer. Visit High Line Heritage Resources for more on Mayer and Hill County historic touring options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correction: An earlier version of the caption under the picture of Neiffer said he was a  co-owner. Neiffer is the owner. 

editor@havreherald.com (406) 262-7778
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