A New Brew in Town: Flathead Lake Brewing Co.

By RYAN NEWHOUSE

Two weeks ago, Flathead Lake Brewing Co. opened a new brew pub on the second floor of 424 N. Higgins Ave., which is above the (also) new restaurant, Sapore. Owners Sandy Clare and Carla Mancini received a warm Missoula reception to their two new businesses, which also provided about 40 new jobs for Missoulians.

Some will remember this downtown location as the former sites for The Loft (upstairs) and restaurants Higgins Alley and Zimorino’s Red Pies Over Montana (downstairs). The Loft was a dark, open space used mostly for concerts, holiday parties and receptions. The new owners did such a thorough remodel to both locations, it’s hard to imagine what it was like before today.

Inside, both Sapore and Flathead Lake Brewing Company provide a polished, big city feel to our small town. The FLBC, experienced the most “extreme” makeover, turning a creaky under-lit room into a vaulted and lively meeting place. The brew pub kept the exposed brick wall on the south side of the building, but complemented it with steel beams, a fountain, two HD TVs and a variety of seating options – from bar stools, high-tops, tables and even a little “nook” with plush chairs and a coffee table.

The FLBC is serving up full menu of their brews, including an award-winning porter and IPA. Two seasonal beers I tried during my initial visit were the Holiday Ale and Espresso Porter. The Holiday Ale features a “holiday spice” bouquet with caramel, chocolate and honey malts. The Espresso Porter is FLBC’s traditional porter with the addition of Missoula’s own Black Coffee Roasting Co. dark-roast espresso.

The FLBC has fine selection of branded clothing and a stunning ceramic growler for sale, perfect for last-minute holiday gifts. And growler fills are available for $10. Food is served until 10 p.m. and “word on the street” is that the burger may contend as the best in town.

The owners of FLBC and Sapore say they were excited to bring their craft beers to Missoula since our town has a strong and developed appreciation for local brews, and I agree with them. There’s certainly room for more beer at the table, always.

Hours for FLBC are Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2:00 a.m.

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Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is a full-time writer, husband and parent (in no particular order) and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for WildGame.