The Great Northern Brewery makes some of my favourite beers, so we were excited to finally check out their location. It is a beautiful spot with a wood burning fireplace crackling near the entrance, filling the room with that cozy warmth you only seem to get from an open fire. There are bars both upstairs and down, with an open view of the brewery itself from most of the second floor.
They offer a selection of salads and sandwiches, a bit more of a pub than many other breweries and rightly so, it’s right in downtown Whitefish. It was a perfect place for lunch and for a somewhere that we didn’t expect to serve food the meal was quite good.
We tasted all nine of the beers on tap; of the seasonals, the black IPA was excellent, we grabbed a couple of those to take home! Their ‘Going to the Sun IPA’ is also solid beer and nicely balanced. That, along with their wheat ale and huckleberry wheat, were ones we already knew were making it into our grocery cart later on! Their “lumbersexual” scotch ale was another delight – but, unfortunately, was on tap only.
As our hotel was only a couple blocks away, we came back after dinner one evening as well and took advantage of the darts, board games and shuffleboard at the back of the brewery. Needless to say, the Great Northern Brewery isn’t worth a visit – it’s worth two!
You know when someone tells you a place has a ‘great atmosphere’? Well, this one is better, trust me. Just look at that little house nestled into the snow with its bright lights and cute, colourful sign. I just wanted to eat it up, but I suppose settling for drinking up some delicious beers did the trick too! The little brew house was packed full of regulars and skiers, still dressed in their winter gear. We would have stayed longer, but because cabs are so hard to get in Whitefish that they may as well be unicorns, we could only really have our samples.
We tasted eight of their ten selections. They had some very creative options, including one called Ice Cream Sandwich; a barrel-aged stout with vanilla, maple syrup and cocoa. On their “Always” menu, the pale ale and IRA were our favorites, I can imagine I will be stopping in for a cold pint of one of those next time I’m in the area. Bonsai is a must visit, and with only half of their menu consisting of regular options and the rest fun seasonals, I can imagine if you live in the area, it’s hard to stay away from this charming little spot!
Kalispell Brewing Co. was worth the short drive from Whitefish if you have the time. Located right on the Main Street, and with floor to ceiling windows, it was a pleasant and very open bar. A steady stream of regular customers popping by to fill growlers or grab a pint. Having just opened in 2014 the brewery is very fresh, the lauter tuns we’re so shiny and clean I almost think you could see your reflection in them!
We sampled their whole lineup of 10 current offerings: a dopplebock, dubkelweizen, dunkel, stout, black IPA, pilsner, rauchbier, IPA, barley wine and pale ale. The IPA, part of their regular lineup, was one of my favourites, with 2lbs per barrel of late hop additions, it had bold citrus hop aroma. My other favorites surprised me, the barley wine, at 10% alcohol volume was very palatable; sweet but not overpowering. Their rauchbier was the right amount of smoke; normally I am a no-go with these, so I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed it.
Nearby the bar, popcorn rhythmically popped away, offered free to patrons it was a nice little treat, and as a bonus made a good little palate cleanser.
These three breweries made a worthwhile tour to do over a couple days and if you have a bit more time there are plenty more breweries in Montana. We received a dangerously intriguing map put out by the Montana Brewers Association and would have kept going if we didn’t have to get home!