Relax and enjoy Montana-made brews 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 Flathead Valley’s Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries Map, 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. The brewery even offers free beer with a growler fill on Wednesdays.
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. boasts two locations on the shores of Flathead Lake. The Bigfork Pubhouse on the north shore of Flathead Lake overlooks the sprawling lake and the new FLBC production facility. The pub offers 16 beers on tap, wine and a full liquor bar plus cocktail menu using FLBC beer and fresh ingredients. To taste its full slate of craft beers, you can also stop in at the original brewery site on the east shore of the lake in Wood’s Bay. 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), the Tamarack is a buzzing hub of activity year-round.
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.
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.