4 fantastic Whitefish and Kalispell Breweries to visit after exploring Glacier National Park

6 fantastic Whitefish and Kalispell Breweries to visit after exploring Glacier National Park by BoozingAbroad

If you are in Kalispell or Whitefish Montana, chances are you are going to be visiting Glacier National Park. Whether you are just here for the weekend or passing through, the Whitefish and Kalispell breweries are definitely worth a stop in.

From some surprising wits, beer slushies and great IPAs, you will be able to take your taste buds on a journey through the breweries in Kalispell, Montana.

Psst:  We have a bunch of guides about Montana. Browse them all here or check out some popular post below:

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Montana Beer Laws 

Montana beer laws

Let’s start this thing out with a quick lesson on Montana beer laws because they can be rough for the local Montana breweries (if you like to drink the amounts we do).

As of October 2020, Montana ranked second in the nation for breweries per capita. 

BUT, Montana state law sure makes it difficult for beer-lovers to saddle up at a Montana brewery for a few pints.  That’s because breweries can only serve customers between the hours of 10 AM and 8 PM.  

Also, it is unlawful to serve a customer more than 48 ounces of beer in a single day.  That’s 3 pints FYI. 

Even worse, if your brewery produces more than 10,000 barrels a year, you can only provide free samples to customers. (There are some loopholes to all of these, for what it’s worth). 

These rules are all in place to “protect” the bars and restaurants of the world. 

Although unfair to the craft breweries across Montana, it did force us to brewery-hop (and the rest of Montana) and taste everything that these local breweries have to offer.  Poor us!

Map of Whitefish and Kalispell Breweries

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: To view the layers and see the names of the places on this map, click the tab in the top left corner. You can select the check marks to show or hide certain layers. If you select the icons on the map, you will get more information about the point of interest.

HOW TO SAVE THIS MAP: If you select the star icon next to the map name, you can save this map to your Google Maps account. To view it, open Google Maps in desktop or on your phone, select the menu button, go to “Your Places,” scroll to the right to Maps, and you will see this map.

Backslope Brewery 

backslope brewing - kalispell brewery

The first of the Kalispell breweries on our list isn’t even really one of the Kalispell breweries at all! 

Located in the shadows (about 20 minutes south) of Glacier National Park in Columbia Falls, MT, Backslope Brewing is a great spot to grab a pint or flight of beer on your way into or out of Montana’s beautiful national park. 

 For reference, Backslope is located about 30 minutes north of the other breweries in Kalispell.

And much like Montana’s outdoors, Backslope Brewing has a lot to offer in terms of its beer styles.  Everything from the Pilgrim blonde ale and Crooked Wind IPA mainstays to the tropical gluten-free beer, saisons, wits, and Tripels that come and go from the tap rotation.

In addition to the good beer in this relaxed environment, Backslope also has a full kitchen that has dishes that are made to complement their beer varieties using locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible.  

While we didn’t have any of the main course meals, which all looked scrumptious being delivered to every table but ours, we did have some hand-cut fries tossed with garlic confit and doused in parmesan cheese. Mmmmm!

SunRift Beer Company 

sunrift beer co montana
SunRift Beer Company has a great outdoor patio and deck space that takes up two buildings and exposes you to the beautiful Montana outdoors (and hot summer sun).

This would be one of the fun Kalispell breweries to party at given its setup and large outdoor facility.

SunRift is inspired by the mountains, sun and water, all plentiful here in Kalispell and the surrounding areas, and they “strive to bring more sun in every pint with great craft beer.” That’s something we can definitely get onboard with!

The Blonde Bomber was one of our more favorite blondes while the Sol-Gravy oatmeal stout was bold and velvety all at the same time.

Bias Brewing

bias brewing - kalispell montana
We might be biased, but alcoholic slushies are awesome in the hot Montana summer!

Bias Brewing doesn’t really focus on many flagship beers, so they are continually experimenting and bringing new beers and ideas to the table, including this frozen daiquiri slushie made with their seltzer. A delicious frozen treat, just beware of the brain freeze!

Enjoy a pint or sample many of their offerings in the large tasting room or out back on their great patio.

The Hellroaring Hazy IPA, the Josephine Imperial IPA, and the Mittlekinder Kölsch rounded out our tray of practice beers.

Sacred Waters Brewing Co 

sacred waters - kalispell brewery
Sacred Water Brewing is inspired by the founder’s mother, an outdoor enthusiast and avid fly-fisher, who passed away after a battle with cancer. 

Wanting to celebrate the memory of her mother, the founder is putting everything into sharing the beautiful outdoors with everyone with that true Montana hospitality and great beer! 

The Raspberry Mojito Sour, Bull Trout Coffee Stout, and the Bob IPA were our favorites, but we really liked all 6 of our beers in our flight. 

Cheers to celebrating the things in life that matter: the people we love, the great outdoors, and delicious beer!

Bonsai Brewing Project 

bonsai beer white fish
This is another of the “Kalispell breweries” which isn’t really in Kalispell, but we included it on our list since it’s only about 30 minutes north and you’ll probably be going through here to get to Glacier National Park.

Located just a few minutes from Whitefish Lake which gives this charming town its name, Bonsai Brewing Project is specializing in IPA’s, barrel-aged brews, and sours, along with all styles in between.

After the closure of one of Whitefish’s long-time breweries, Bonsai Brewing Project is the only remaining brewery in town. Thankfully, they are serving up some delicious craft beers and food to satiate the inhabitants and tourists alike.

There is a cozy tasting room inside, but we chose to sit in the huge outdoor green space and enjoy our flights and pints on an unseasonably cool summer day in Whitefish.

We liked everything we tried but really enjoyed the Cranky Sheriff, a sour brown ale aged in red wine and bourbon barrels, the Sea Walk, a barrel-aged gose, and the Quarter Wit, a super-simple wheat ale with lemon and coriander.

On your next trip to Glacier National Park, which should be soon because it’s stunningly beautiful, make a stop in Whitefish for some great local brews.

BONUS: Glacier Distilling Company 

glacier distilling montana-2

Though not one of the Kalispell breweries or in Kalispell, Glacier Distilling Company is located about 7 miles from the West Entrance of Glacier National Park so it is the perfect location to take a break from the park and enjoy some local booze.

The Whiskey Barn is where you’ll do your tasting and features a large covered patio and a cozy tasting room with barrels (and pieces of barrels) everywhere.

We visited during COVID, so they were only offering tasting flights of 4 spirits for $5 (a steal, in our opinion).

With over 20 different spirits to choose from, we opted for 3 tasting flights and purchased a handful of airplane bottles to go (we have limited space in an RV, remember?).

During non-COVID times, they offer tastings or house-made cocktails.

The idea for Glacier Distilling Company can be traced back to a great Montana snowstorm in the winter of 2009-2010 when the founder and some of his friends were contemplating how they would survive if that snowstorm was the beginning of the end of the world.

glacier distilling montana-1

Naturally, the conversation turned to how they would get their whiskey to warm their souls. And they determined the prudent thing to do was to start a distillery. Cheers to that!

A completely full lineup includes your core spirits (vodka, rum, gin, whiskey — many of them award-winning) as well as some Montana specialties like their single malt whiskey flavored with the juice of a bear’s favorite treat, hand-picked Montana huckleberries.

This delicious creation is simply known as Bearproof.

Unfortunately, although you might feel like it after a few drinks of this whiskey, you most certainly are NOT bearproof!

From our tasting lineups, our favorites were the Bearproof and the Trapline Rock & Rye, which is their house rye whiskey sweetened with honey and flavored with orange and other spices.

It’s an old-age recipe that is said to cure what ails you. This won a silver medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition!

BONUS: Spotted Bear Spirits 

spotted bear distillery white fish

Again, not one of the Kalispell breweries, but Spotted Bear Spirits is located in Whitefish and has figured out the craft cocktail game and has managed to capture the essence of Montana in a drink.

With an emphasis on supporting local farms and produce, you’ll be delighted with the creative cocktails they offer. 

We enjoyed their Barracuda, a blend of pineapple, cucumber, lime, Serrano, and agave and the Montana Mule, a huckleberry-infused take on a timeless classic.

Spirits include vodka, gin, agave, barrel-rested agave, limoncello, and a coffee liqueur.

We also sampled their limoncello which was recommended to us by a fellow local bartender.

Having been to Sorrento, Italy, we can vouch that this stuff was fantastic!

Their tasting room is a nod to all the adventure to be had in Montana.  With rotating seasonal mules and margaritas,  Spotted Bear has figured out how mixology and craft cocktails can prosper in a rugged mountain town.

Bonus: Glacier Sun Winery 

glacier sun winery montana
Glacier Sun Winery is located in between Whitefish and Kalispell, so you know the scenery around this place is just gorgeous. And any time you have wine in your hand, the views are amplified.

Connected with Rough Cut Hard Cider (which is next door), Glacier Sun is known for their Huckleberry Peach wine which uses local fruits, but also features red, white, and dessert wines using grapes from eastern Washington state.

While we didn’t make it over to the attached cider house, it’s a great option if you have a friend who doesn’t like wine (and you can’t get rid of said friend). Plus, Sacred Water Brewing is right next door too, so you have beer, wine, and cider within crawling distance!

Worried about getting the munchies while drinking all this local booze? Fear not! Fork in the River is located within the brewery to keep you nourished.

Overall Whitefish and Kalispell Breweries

If all that hiking wasn’t enough in Glacier National Park, all the Whitefish and Kalispell breweries and bars will be enough to fill you up!

We find that a post-hike drink is a handsome reward for all the hard work and there are plenty of places in Whitefish and Kalispell to celebrate! 

Ready to visit to Kalispell? Read hotel reviews on TripAdvisor then book your room here!!

Don’t forget to pick up an Montana guidebook for your other adventures.

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Samantha and Chris fell in love with traveling together back in 2015. They met, married, and lived together in Richmond, VA for 7 years before becoming full-time travelers in 2020.

Along the way, they’ve traveled to over 40 U.S. states and 20 countries while drinking local beers, wines, and spirits during their journeys.

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