To celebrate the craft beer culture in Kalispell and bring the community together, Gabe Mariman of Bias Brewing had a vision to throw a winter party in the heart of the Flathead Valley.
That’s why he helped organize the inaugural Frosty the Brewfest last year, and the successful event will continue in years to come. Mariman wanted to bring a fun winter festival to Kalispell while working with other groups to benefit the city and local causes. The event raises money for the Kalispell Downtown Association (KDA) and a selected nonprofit each year.
Local breweries have collaborated with the KDA to organize this year’s event, which will take over the Valley Bank parking lot in a heated 40-by-60-foot tent on Jan. 18. Breweries include Bias Brewing, SunRift, Kalispell Brewing Company, Sacred Waters Brewing Company and Flathead Valley Community College’s Brewing Academy of Montana.
The fundraising event will donate 30 percent of proceeds to benefit the Abbie Shelter, a nonprofit that provides services to victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Last year, 1,000 people attended the brewfest, which raised $17,000, with $5,000 benefitting the Flathead Community Foundation and the rest going to the KDA. Mariman expects more attendees this year with more revenue to benefit the KDA and the Abbie Shelter.
“Breweries are a piece of the fabric of the culture of the towns we are in,” Mariman said.
Breweries often donate to local nonprofits, and it’s common to see them hosting pint nights and brewfests to benefit the community, Mariman said.
“It’s part of the craft brewing culture,” Mariman said.
Mariman is trying to enrich Kalispell’s culture by creating more activities and events. When he first started working in Kalispell, he noticed as soon as the clock struck 5 p.m., everyone got in their cars and drove either north to Whitefish or south to Bigfork to spend their money.
“I think Kalispell is coming up,” he said. “We wanted to do something to celebrate and to bring people downtown and to spread the love with the downtown businesses.”
Toyota and other local businesses have chipped in to sponsor Frosty the Brewfest, which will feature a number of activities. Kids can race to win $2,000 in gear at the Kids Dash, sponsored by Sportsman & Ski Haus. Children ages 2 to 8 can compete for a pool party at the Red Lion Hotel, while kids age 9 to 16 can win a Trek bike.
Wheaton’s Cycle is sponsoring a Fatbike Slowbike Race where contestants must ride 20 yards in four-person heats to compete for the slowest times and are required to finish an 8-ounce beer without setting their feet down. Participants can bring their own fat bike and Wheaton’s will also provide bikes.
Glacier Harley-Davidson will host a Frosty the Beard contest.
Frosty the Brewfest will be held from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18. Tickets are $20 for those 21 and older, which includes a mug, four drink tickets and admission to all events. Tickets are $10 for ages 14 to 20, which includes two nonalcoholic drink tickets, and kids 13 and under get in for free.
Smart Alex and Comatose Posse are providing live music, which starts at 3:30 p.m. and lasts until the festival ends at 6 p.m.