News & Features

Sweets and Spirits: 2018 Drinks Issue

Quench your summer thirst with everything from milkshakes and locally made root beer to brews cruises and vodka with a purpose

It’s August, historically the summer’s hottest, smokiest month in the Flathead Valley. If you’re looking to cool down by sipping a cold one, there are plenty of watering-hole options for you to consider, as well as a few important questions.

What’s the best milkshake flavor? Where can you go for a tour around the valley’s breweries? Who makes their own root beer? How is vodka helping rebuild the Sperry Chalet? And how does an independent beverage distributor thrive through decades of shifting markets and cultural trends?

Belly up to the bar and find out in the 2018 Drinks Issue. Cheers!


Jody McLeod and Britteny Jones, co-owners of Big Sky Brews Cruise, in Kalispell on Aug. 8, 2018. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Cruise for Cold Brews

by Justin Franz

Big Sky Brews Cruise offers public tours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The tours last between three and four hours and start in Whitefish or Kalispell. What makes Big Sky Brews Cruise unique is that its goal isn’t to bring passengers to as many breweries as possible, but rather offer them a unique experience at three different establishments.

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A huckleberry milkshake from Sweet Peaks on Aug. 9. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Sippin’ Sugar

by Madeleine Lamon

When it comes to sweet treats, milkshakes are the coolest. Blending ice cream with milk, shakes are the perfect addition to — or replacement for — a meal, especially on a hot summer day. Luckily for the Flathead, a number of local vendors offer their own scrumptious iterations of a shake with a variety of traditional, daring and delicious flavors.

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The Value of Vodka

by Madeleine Lamon

A little less than a year ago, the Sprague Fire east of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park burned down the Sperry Chalet. Now, as the Glacier National Park Conservancy works to rebuild the iconic structure, Whistling Andy Distillery is donating profits from a specially made spirit to help with the reconstruction.

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Lil Buckeroo root beer from Great Northern Brewing Company on Aug. 10, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

A Popular Soda with
Historic Roots

by Molly Priddy

Having root beer on tap is a popular option for breweries for various reasons, most notably so families can come to taprooms together and have a nice time with a foamy, cold drink. Bates said the Lil Buckaroo is a favorite among kids but also with adults who want a refreshing drink but don’t want the alcohol.

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Fun Beverage Inc. warehouse in Kalispell on Aug. 7. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Quenching Thirsts for Nearly Four Decades

by Myers Reece

Fun Beverage is the largest locally owned and operated beer and wine distributor in Northwest Montana, employing more than 100 people during peak season and operating out of an attractive 105,000-square-foot facility south of Kalispell that welcomes visitors with a striking, cavernous waiting area hardly reminiscent of a traditional industrial warehouse.

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Jaden Behrends, co-owner of Rough Cut Hard Cider on Aug. 10, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Along Came a Cider

by Tristan Scott

Cider making is, with exception, a blender’s art, and the different flavors mingling over at Rough Cut, the new cidery and tasting room located next to Glacier Sun Winery and the Apple Barrel Country Market on U.S. Highway 2 in Kalispell, are testament to the creative craftsmanship taking place in Jaden Behrends’ fermentation tanks.

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