Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen introduces the latest installment of the Montana Business Spotlight series recognizing and highlighting local businesses across the Treasure State. This feature introduces Montanans to Sacred Waters Brewing Co. in Kalispell. Click the featured image above to view the Montana Business Spotlight from Sacred Waters Brewing Co.
KALISPELL, Mont. — Jordan Van Eimeren always assumed she would enter the hospitality industry. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind it would be in Montana.
Van Eimeren’s parents purchased the acclaimed Spotted Bear Guest Ranch when she was 3 years old, leading to a “wonderful childhood up here in the valley.” Offering world-class guided fishing tours, lodging, food, and all-around experiences opened Van Eimeren’s eyes to the unlimited beauty of the Treasure State.
“Sharing Montana with others is really where it’s at,” she said. “It’s not hard to share God’s creation up here, it just already sells itself.”
Her upbringing led Van Eimeren to the idea of a “glamping” business, a glamorous camping experience where one could be “just free and one with nature,” similar to her Spotted Bear childhood. But it was another sector of the hospitality industry that ultimately drew her in.
“My husband and I have always loved craft breweries, and it’s another way of sharing Montana through craft,” explained Van Eimeren. “After a great day of fly fishing or snowboarding, just being outside in Montana, you can reconvene with your friends. It’s like the confluence, just like we had up there at Spotted Bear on the South Fork River.”
“I don’t know much about making beer, I’ll find someone to do that,” Van Eimeren recalled of the idea. “We tried a home brewery just in our little apartment kitchen … and I was like, ‘I don’t think it’s going to be me brewing the beer.'”
With the home brewing kit tossed aside, Van Eimeren and her father, Kirk Gentry, officially opened the doors of Sacred Water Brewing Co. in November 2018.
“My dad’s always about learning from other people and getting good mentors, surrounding yourself with smarter, wiser people than yourself,” Van Eimeren said of their research at numerous breweries around the region. “We’re not reinventing the wheel. There’s a lot of good breweries around the world, and especially in Montana.”
What makes Sacred Waters Brewing Co. stand out?
“We want to celebrate, promote the sacred waters of the Flathead Valley,” said Van Eimeren. “Finding like-minded people that have just the same kind of heart and soul that we have, and the same vision. … We live in Montana because we work hard and play hard, so we want everyone to kind of have that same concept. We’ve been so lucky with a great team, great staff, great people.
“It’s a family. At the end of the day, we’re brewing beer, this should be fun. It should be a great atmosphere to work in, so that’s our main thing is having fun, but getting the job done at the same time.”
That job is being done well per taste testers near and far. Sacred Waters’ beer menu seemingly has something for everyone, and Van Eimeren is quick to credit head brewer Seth Orr, along with assistant brewers Marty and Kylie, for their ideas and efforts.
“We’ve won a lot of awards recently, which is fun,” Van Eimeren beamed. “Seth and them have been entering these competitions. We won a gold medal for our Little Salmon Fire Pepper Ale, which was in the chili beer contest. It won an International Beer Award for that, which is pretty awesome and a pretty big deal. And then our Bull Trout Coffee Stout just won a gold medal at the Denver International Awards, and we won four silvers for our other beers in our categories. So, pretty amazing.”
The Bull Trout Coffee Stout, along with the Catch ’em Lager and Hungry Horse Hazy IPA, are just a few of Sacred Waters’ flagships. But, the brewery also understands the importance of keeping the rotations fresh, while having some fun along the way.
“It’s a team effort to be like, ‘Well, I don’t think that beer’s going to really resonate with our clientele like we are in Kalispell,'” she said. “We’re kind of a blue-collar area where we’re located here by the airport. Obviously, we get a lot of tourists, but we have mostly a working class here — construction crews and all this — so our locals are our main people. Our main concern is taking care of them, then adding that flair and our seasonals and stuff like that.”
“We are so blessed with so many regulars and local customers,” Van Eimeren continued. “At the end of the day, they support us year-round, while tourist season is short. It’s a fast summer. … We have locals that come five times a week, maybe seven. … Our regulars are our life, and it’s just so fun to see the same face all the time. They make my heart so happy; every time I give them a hug, they think I’m doing them a favor, but I’m like, ‘No, you’re doing me a favor. You’re fueling me to get through this day or this week.’ It’s been awesome.”
Waiting to greet all visitors is Sacred Waters’ beautiful logo — a woman gracefully casting a fly rod in waist-deep water while the sun sets in the background. That fly-fishing woman is Cathy Gentry, Van Eimeren’s late mother, whose love of wild places and people is celebrated in Sacred Waters Brewing Co. daily.
“My beautiful mom, she passed away from ovarian cancer almost seven years ago, and I really wanted to honor her and celebrate her. So, she is our logo, fly-fishing woman,” said Van Eimeren. “I have a wall dedicated to my mom here, right in the brewery behind our stage. It really brings a lot of purpose in my life and a lot of joy knowing that I’m honoring and celebrating her and sharing her with the world, because she was the most amazing person. She would be super proud of what we’ve done here.”
“I think of my mom every day, and I come in here when I’ve had a bad day or (I’m) a little stressed about the future and business in general,” she continued. “I know that she’s right here in my heart and she would absolutely adore it because, she wouldn’t want any of the credit or the eyes on her, but she seriously was the most sincere, selfless, caring person I’ve ever met, and she just loved meeting new people. She would get so much join in that we have such a wide variety of people coming in here … and it’s so cool to see them meet at the bar and make a friend. One of her things was, everyone has a story, everyone needs a friend, and if I can do that by talking to someone, giving them a hug, then they get introduced to someone else, she would just be in heaven. … I just give all the credit to her and God that we are still in business, and I just think of her daily. It’s a fun, fun place. You can feel her love and energy in here always.”