Gearing up for the Great Northern Brewing Co. Anniversary Party


This Saturday, Missoula band, The Lil’ Smokies, will be headlining the 17th Anniversary Party for the Great Northern Brewing Company.

The party follows immediately after the infamous second-coming of the Black Star Beer Barter in Whitefish, where contestants plan on offering up anything from a collection of cats to songs and dances for a year’s supply (52 cases!) of Black Star beer. I’ll be heading up there to check in on the shenanigans myself.

At the Beer Barter, two special judges will be on hand to pick this year’s winner. Professional skiers, Andy Mahre and Lynsey Dyer (an MSU alum and American Freestyle skier), will be judging the competition, alongside Tony Herbert, Executive Director of the Montana Brewers Association, and Marcus Duffey, General Manager of the Great Northern Brewery.

One of the events I’m especially excited about is the Warm Up to Winter Carnival on Friday night, which includes a pub crawl and giveaway of a limited edition Black Star Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket at several different downtown watering holes.

Great Northern Brewing Company's Black Star Beer blanket.

Participants can register at the Palace Bar, The Bulldog Saloon, The Remington, Crush Lounge, Great Northern Bar & Grill, VFW Lounge, Craggy Range Bar & Grill, and the Black Star Draught House. At the stroke of midnight on Friday, the blankets will be given away.

Mixed into the weekend is the Whitefish Winter Carnival, a unique celebration of fun, frivolity and friendship in and around Whitefish. The carnival encompasses both the annual Penguin Plunge and the World Skijoring Championships.

The carnival comes with a 50+ year history, and in the January/February issue of National Geographic Traveler the Whitefish Winter Carnival was named as one of the top ten winter carnivals in the world! Check out the full schedule of events on Flathead Events.

On top of that, Vogue ran a column called “Destinations of the Month: Ski Towns, USA,” which also highlighted the winter carnival in Whitefish and the Skijoring Championships.

Built into the carnival festivities are a parade and a looming attack from the Yetis who try to kidnap the snow queen. Sounds dangerous, but I’ll report what happens with that.

On Saturday, after the carnival and the Beer Barter wind down, the Great Northern Brewing Company’s 17th Anniversary kicks off, with music by The Lil’ Smokies.

Joe Barberis, head brewer of the Great Northern Brewery prepared an Anniversary Black Lager especially for the occasion. As he describes it, “It’s a smooth and roasty Black Lager with sensible barrel-aged character that you won’t want to miss.” Sounds pretty good to me!

Who else is coming up to Whitefish this weekend? Are you bringing anything to barter? Chime in below.


Thirsty for more? Missoula’s beverage expert, Ryan Newhouse, has plenty on tap: The Black Star Beer Barter Returns to Whitefish, Get Your (Bar) Game on in Missoula, and The Best Bars for Celebrating a Birthday.

Looking for a local bar or pub? Check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

   Visit the Drink It Missoula archive.


Ryan Newhouse knows good craft beer.

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