Brewery Bustling In Bigfork

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Love of the beer coming out of Woods Bay has pushed the Flathead Lake Brewing Company to open another site, just ten miles up the road, in Bigfork.

"I'm excited," said Sandy Clare, the general manager of the brewery, "I think you can't go into something this big and be nervous."

"Of course with the economy and everything else that's been going on in the world, sure there's always a concern, but I feel 99% confident that this is where we want to go," said Greg Johnston, the owner and co-founder of the Flathead Lake Brewing Company.

Greg Johnston and his daughter, Sandy Clare, cannot wait for the spring opening of their new location in Bigfork--bringing their total capacity to 12,000 barrels to meet increased demand--although it has taken a little longer than planned. Clare says that' is because of LEED: leadership, environment, energy, and design--an effort to practice sustainability.

"We live in Montana for a reason and that's the environment and the beauty that surrounds us. We really wanted this building to outlast us," explained Clare.

It is slow going keeping track of every nail and wrapper, but the concrete has already been laid and the walls and trusses are coming within the week so the crew can work inside during the worst of winter. Clare says they are on time to start interviewing for every available position, from dishwashers to brewers, this coming January and February.

"What's neat about this little place down here, the atmosphere--it's like a Cheers, for all the older people out there," said Johnston.

For ten years, the Flathead Brewing Company has perfected its flagship ale at the Woods Bay location. With the 10,000 barrel addition in Bigfork, Johnston is now in the process of signing a distribution agreement with a company in Bozeman, hoping to soon send his beer all across Big Sky Country.

According to Clare, the new location in Bigfork will continue to serve their signature drink, while the Woods Bay location will focus more on experimental brews as well as their hit sour series.

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