Relax and enjoy Montana-made brews, hard cider and spirits.
After a day of playing in the Flathead Valley or Glacier National Park, there is no better way to relax and recap the day’s adventure than a stop at a local brewery, distillery or winery. Have your pick of local potables — Northwest Montana has become a veritable oasis of the craft and small-batch beverage industry.
There are so many options to try that you may not want to relegate your taste testing to evening hours. Download a map of the 17 Flathead Valley’s Breweries, Distilleries, Wineries and Cideries, designate a driver and make a day of sampling small-batch porters and pilsners, rieslings and ryes found in tasting rooms across the valley.
Whatever your preferred beverage, the vibrant city of Kalispell serves as an ideal jumping-off point for a tasting tour of the region.
On the corner of Fourth and Main streets in a renovated, 10,000-square-foot space behind massive glass windows, professional skiers Cole Schneider and Maggie Doherty, his wife, own and operate Kalispell’s first modern craft brewery. The two-story Kalispell Brewing Company tasting room features live music and other events, events, and a rotating selection of eight to 10 beers on tap including its famous German-style Two Ski Brewski Pils and Winter At Noon Dunkel.
Sunrift Beer Company opened their doors in 2018, serving quality craft beers in a warm and friendly historic building in downtown Kalispell. They pour a variety of beers from IPA’s to Belgians, stouts to lagers, each inspired by Montana’s mountains, sun and water.
The latest addition to downtown Kalispell is Bias Brewing who’s owners have an experimental streak to nurture so feature a rotating selection of beers such as blackberry sour, a pale ale steeped in black tea leaves and a chocolate porter that has been rested on cacao nibs.
Since 1995, Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish has been known regionally for its flagship beer, Black Star, a double-hopped golden lager. But visitors to the brewery also know it is home to an array of unusual seasonal offerings including bourbon barrel-aged porter and huckleberry wheat.
Local favorite Flathead Lake Brewing Co. is located on the north shore of Flathead Lake overlooking the sprawling lake. The pub offers 16 beers on tap, wine and a full liquor bar plus cocktail menu using FLBC beer and fresh ingredients. Dark-beer lovers must try the 369’ Stout, a World Beer Cup winner.
On the opposite side of Flathead Lake, in the small town of Lakeside, the Tamarack Brewing Company Alehouse & Grill is hard to miss. With its eye-catching modern design and long list of beers (including everything from traditional IPAs to an apricot ale called Sip and Go Naked), the Tamarack is a buzzing hub of activity year-round.
Visit the cozy taproom and spacious outdoor seating area at Bonsai Brewing Project, a small independently-owned craft brewery. Bonsai offers a wide variety of ales specializing in IPA’s, barrel aged delights and wild ale sours along with a full made-from-scratch food menu.
Vilya Spirits Distillery located in downtown Kalispell, produces small bath, award-winning and critically acclaimed artisan spirits with an emphasis on tradition and flavor. Vilya’s owners grow and wildcraft the majority of the rare herbs used. Top sellers are Superior Absinthe Verte, Silvertip American Dry Gin, and Wild Huckleberry Liquor.
Located almost at the doorstep of Glacier National Park, Glacier Distilling Company in Coram specializes in small-batch whiskeys that reflect the rugged beauty of the surroundings. Using local grains and pure glacial water from the Northern Rockies, the distillery produces traditional as well as specialty spirits such as a peach-infused rye whiskey.
Even if Bigfork’s Whistling Andy Distillery hadn’t won the 2011 platinum award at the Spirits International Prestige Awards, you’d probably still be tempted by its unusual specialty: a hibiscus coconut rum. Try the rum, gin and other savory spirits and cocktails at its tasting room on Montana Hwy. 35.
In downtown Whitefish Spotted Bear Spirits Distillery and Tasting Room draws inspiration from Montana’s rugged landscapes and tight-knit, hardworking communities — using local, organic ingredients in its spirits and cocktails whenever possible. Grab a bottle of its gin or vodka to enjoy after a day on the river or cozy up with Spotted Bear’s coffee liquor made with locally roasted beans from Montana Coffee Traders.
Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits is located in a friendly and cozy tasting room for the distillery that also offers a full service family restaurant. As their website states, they are half alchemists, half artists. Perfecting each product until they are proud to put their name on it. They they pour it and serve it up with style.
Tailing Loop Winery selects wines produced from reputable and well established family vineyards located in the Pacific Northwest, including critically acclaimed vineyards and cellars in the states of Washington & Oregon. Think of a brew pub but for wine. Enjoy a variety of quality wines in a relaxed atmosphere set in a historic gallery two miles east of downtown Kalispell.
At Kalispell’s Glacier Sun Winery enjoy tastings of its unique blends featuring Washington grapes and Montana-grown fruit, including apricot and chuckleberry (blending local cherries and huckleberries) dessert wines, or its more traditional white and red selections.
Rough Cut Hard Cider uses apple juice from the Pacific Northwest and fruits from right here in Montana. Jaden Berends brings craftsmanship and creativity to the traditional English Cider by using unique flavors and styles offering a rotating selection of flavors.
Big Mountain Ciderworks is the newest addition to the Valley, opening fall 2018. They offer cider made on-site at the family farm using fresh-pressed apple, cherry and pear juice from their orchards and other orchards in the northwest.