Triple Dog Brewing Company
Shorty Young's Pretty Blonde Ale
Havre is a small town in northern Montana that sits close to the Canadian border. Pronounced “HAV-er”, the town is loaded with history that aligns closely with the growth of the Wild West and for decades the daily activities in Havre would have fit perfectly into a Hollywood Western. For a while, many of Havre’s businesses even operated underground, literally. In 1904 the town burned to the ground (for the second time) and business owners decided they were better off moving underground while the city was rebuilt. Skylights were constructed into the sidewalks and rooms were dug out just below the surface. Many of the businesses operating underground were respectable like the laundromat, dentist, bakery, butcher shop, post office, barber shop and the drug store but others, like the saloons, brothels and opium dens, were less than desirable. As the new, brick buildings were built above, the underground businesses did their best to maintain and by 1906 most businesses were able to move back into the new brick and mortar buildings. The ones that stayed underground were generally the ones that had some shady dealings, and many of them had close ties to Shorty Young.
In 1894, Christopher William “Shorty” Young (1878-1944) moved to Havre, MT with virtually nothing to his name, but over the course of 35 years he built himself an empire. After arriving in Havre, Young took ownership of the Mint Saloon and the Montana European Hotel and Grill, better known as “The Honky Tonk”, which has since gone down in history as one of the Wild West’s most notorious bars. Both operations became known for their gambling, prostitution and, after the start of Prohibition, illegal sales of alcohol.
The Honky Tonk was a three story hotel that featured many rooms as well as a dance hall that had about 30 tables and a large stage. Vaudevillian and musical acts often frequented the hotel and patrons were served by girls (some of them pretty blondes) in skimpy outfits. “Shorty” Young, who was about 5-feet 2-inches tall, sold his beer for 20¢ a glass, much cheaper than anyone else in town and kept his offices in the building as well. The first floor was for entertaining, the second filled with rooms for rent and the third was for gambling. Young’s profits were so large that he soon built another bar as well as a series of underground tunnels that ran between his businesses, which included one tunnel that ran for hundreds of yards out of town, just in case he needed to escape.
When Prohibition began in Alberta, Canada in 1916, Young found himself about 45 miles away from a virtual goldmine. He knew the border well due to his hunting and fishing trips and was able to secretly ship cases of whiskey across the border as well as bring Canadian customers to his saloons, one of which he opened just south of the U.S.-Canada border. Prohibition started in Montana at about the same time it ended in Canada and Young basically gave his shipments an about-face. Young and his cronies, known as the Havre Bunch, organized with other bootleggers to maintain a steady stream of liquor flowing from Canada into Havre and then out to the rest of the nation. He used many of his underground businesses to help hide the goods and, allegedly, Young’s organization was responsible for delivering illegal alcohol to every U.S. state except Maine, rivaling that of the legendary Al Capone. Young became so rich that be bought 6,000 acres outside of Havre and managed over 600 head of livestock as well as a coal mine on the property.
Montanans voted to begin Prohibition in 1919, earlier than the start of the federal law, and they also voted to end it early in 1926. Around this time, Young’s empire started to crumble but not before he had amassed tremendous wealth. The local governments were well aware of what Young was up to but despite many raids they always had a difficult time proving he had ever broken any laws. A raid in 1929, however, did him in and when mixed with the end of Prohibition, he decided it was time to quietly live out his final years. For all his reckless doings, Young donated all of his property and a huge sum of money to local charities when he passed away in 1944.
Young’s life had all the elements of a Prohibition-era gangster mixed with a Wild West outlaw. Car chases, raids, arrests, murders and piles of money all swirled around him and his empire. He lies in rest at the Calvary Cemetery in downtown Havre, just down the street from Triple Dog Brewing Company.
From the Brewer: Light easy to drink beer. Sweet and crisp. ABV 4%, IBU 12
Michael Garrity - Owner & Brewer
Erin Garrity - Owner & Manager