Outgoing and articulate, Dustin Breau is the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with. Despite his denials, he knows a lot about craft beer.
The host of the show “Micro America,” Breau, 47, of Salt Lake City, is in Billings Saturday to film two episodes for his show, which will be available at www.microamerica.beer but, he hopes, will one day find a home on cable television — say, on Spike or Food Network.
Breau, an actor who went to high school in Joliet (he later appeared in a number of films, including “Dumb Luck” starring Scott Baio and Tracy Nelson, and he had a role in the TV series “Touched By An Angel”). His day job is photographing jets in beautiful spots around the world.
When Visit Billings offered to bring him and his production partner, Zach Cipriano, to film their visits to craft brewers inside the city’s 1.5 miles of walkable breweries, Breau hopped at the chance.
“I actually get paid to drink beer,” he said. “To see the growth of craft breweries in Billings has been amazing. I could not have imagined it.”
After a quick stroll around Billings’ walkable brewery district, Breau said he was reminded of another city famous for local beer — Portland, Oregon.
“You can’t throw a rock in Portland without hitting a brewery,” he said. “Given time, downtown Billings will become something unique.”
Local tourism officials say that’s the idea behind the kind of exposure that Breau and his team can bring to Billings’ brews crews.
“One of the biggest things from a tourism side is that anytime people can come to our city and experience something different from other cities, we are all about that,” said Aly Murnion, leisure marketing and sales and social media manager for Visit Billings. “With a lot of our hops grown here and everything as locally sourced as it can be, we have great food and people who are invested in our community.”
Murnion said both Breau and Visit Billings get something out of this weekend’s filming and the ensuing airtime.
“He has a great show, and we have a great destination, so he’s really helping us out,” she said. “I know our beer tastes good, but I’m not a connoisseur. He is, and for him to speak to that is a good thing. You want to go have a beer with him, and that’s what everyone wants from a host.”
Breau said that the first season of “Micro America” — which included an episode exploring Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company as well as craft brewers in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and other cities — allowed Breau and Cipriano to get a feel for how they want to tell the stories of the places they visit. Featured breweries all have three things in common, he explained — good beer and appetizing food, an interesting and knowledgeable brewmaster, and nice ambiance, “a place where you’d want to hang out,” he said.
During their second season, the two plan to air more interaction with patrons. That’s where Breau’s daughter, Jentry, 15, comes in.
A member of her high school debate team, her job at any brewery her father is featuring is to speak to customers, talk up her dad — and get willing patrons to sign a release form so that Cipriano can film them while her father chats with them about their mutual favorite topic, quality beer.
“For now she’s our production assistant,” her father said with a laugh. “But we all know she’ll be a lawyer someday.”