When the folks at Bias Brewing thought about what they wanted to see in 2019, it struck them that Kalispell does not have a defining winter brewfest for its downtown core area.
In a state with a burgeoning beer culture and a valley with three new breweries opening recently, brewfests are increasingly common. People gather outdoors to taste beer and mingle while listening to live music and enjoying local cuisine, and it seemed time for Kalispell to start this tradition in the winter, Gabe Mariman of Bias Brewing said.
“A winter event that brings the entire Flathead into downtown Kalispell to celebrate our community is something we really wanted to do,” Mariman said.
On Jan. 19, Kalispell’s four breweries — Bias Brewing, Kalispell Brewing Company, Sacred Waters Brewing Company, and SunRift Beer Company — along with the Brewing Academy from Flathead Valley Community College will present the first Frosty the Brewfest in downtown Kalispell. The event will take place in Valley Bank’s parking lot on the corner of Third Street West and First Avenue West. It runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The brewfest idea also grew from a desire to work more closely with the other breweries in town, Mariman said.
“The breweries in this valley, we’re all friends, we all talk, we support each other,” Mariman said.
Frosty the Brewfest was an easy sell to the brewers, he said, who want to bring people downtown while also supporting the city they love. To this end, 70 percent of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Kalispell Downtown Association, and the remaining 30 percent will
go to the Flathead Community Foundation.
The idea was so popular with local businesses that they got onboard and sponsored much of the festival’s costs, Mariman said, with almost 80 percent of the costs already paid for. That means the majority of beer sales at the event will go toward the nonprofit organizations.
Along with the breweries, the festival will include live music from Smart Alex and Jameson and the Sordid Seeds, food trucks, and activities for participators and spectators to enjoy. And since it’s in the winter, there will be heated tents under which to shelter from the snow.
Wheaton’s is sponsoring a slow race on fat-tire bikes, during which riders must have a beer in hand while they pilot a fat-tire bike in a straight line from point A to point B. Whoever gets there the slowest, without putting their feet down or otherwise holding on to something for support, wins.
“Beer in hand on a fat bike and the slowest time wins,” Mariman said. “I think it’ll be fun for the public to watch.”
Those interested in participating are encouraged to bring their fat-tire snow bikes, but if you can’t bring it, one will be provided from Wheaton’s in the form of five demo bikes.
For the kids, the festival secured a hefty load of outdoor gear and various prizes that will go into a pile made of either hay or snow, and it will be a mad dash to the gear and pile to get the prizes. Sportsman’s and Ski Haus and REI donated gear for the event, Mariman said, with Sportsman bringing in a new Trek bicycle for the grand prize. Builder Creek Realty also chipped in with a generous donation, he said.
Tickets to the event are $20 for adults, $5 for kids 12 to 18, and free for kids 12 and under. The first 500 adults through the gates will receive a ceramic camping mug marking the first-ever Frosty the Brewfest; all ticketholders will receive four, 6-oz. pours as well.
For their tickets, kids will receive one drink ticket for a warm beverage from DeSoto Grill.
Frosty the Brewfest should bring people downtown while also giving the city a potential new winter tradition to look forward to after the wildness of the holiday season, Mariman said.
“We think Kalispell is cool,” he said. “When you wake up in the morning and you’re driving to work, there’s just a string of cars driving to Kalispell for their livelihoods. We want people to come here on the weekends. We want people to shop downtown. There have been a lot of positive changes in the last eight years in this historic downtown; we believe in it.”
Presale tickets to Frosty the Brewfest can be purchased at the participating breweries.