Great Northern Brewing Company Continues Expansion

Whitefish microbrewery broadens its reach with addition of new tank

By Tristan Scott
Crews install a new 100 barrel fermentation and conditioning tank at Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish on March 4, 2016. Courtesy photo

The Great Northern Brewing Company in downtown Whitefish launched the second phase of its expansion project in as many years, installing a custom-made 100-barrel fermentation tank on Friday as part of its ongoing efforts to extend the reach of its distribution.

Standing at 23 feet tall, the tank spans the height of the brewery’s ceiling, and on March 4 it was added to the three other 100-barrel tanks installed in April 2014. On Friday morning, the existing 40-barrel tank was removed with a crane to make way for the massive new tank.

The installation required careful coordination as Highpoint Contracting, LLC, cut a hole in the brewery’s roof so the tank could be ferried down to the brewery floor with a crane.

Engineered by Portland, Oregon-based Pioneer Tank and Vessel, the new tank is a continuation of the expansion project the brewery began two years ago. Since then, it has increased its production and distribution exponentially.

“The plan for it is to better facilitate production as we grow and expand our distribution footprint,” said Thomas Sierra, director of operations at Great Northern Brewing. “This tank will be used to brew our flagship beers primarily, as well as open production for more seasonal options.”

Great Northern Brewing Company now distributes in five states throughout the Intermountain West, and has developed partnerships with major retail grocery chains, and even Whitefish’s own Glacier Restaurant Group, operators of the MacKenzie River Pizza restaurants.

With the addition of the new tank, the brewery will boost its annual production capacity to more than 8,000 barrels – more than 248,000 gallons of annual beer production (1,984,000 pints).

“Not only has demand for our flagship beers increased, but so has demand for the Bushwhack Series and Weathervane Seasonals. Both are creative outlets for our team of fantastic brewers, as well as a way to meet the ever changing tastes of today’s craft beer drinkers,” said Marcus Duffey, General Manager of Great Northern Brewing Company.

Combined, the four new fermentation and conditioning tanks will increase Great Northern’s production capacity by 50 percent over its 2013 production capacity.

Great Northern brewed nearly 4,500 barrels of beer in 2013, and produced more than 6,500 barrels in 2014 and 2015.

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