our story

who we are

The Flathead Lake Brewing Company started in 2004 in Woods Bay, Montana. Our owner Greg Johnston has two very specific goals. The first: to make the best beer ever. The second: to have fun doing it. Naming the brewery wasn’t hard. FLBC overlooks the shores of the largest freshwater lake in the West – and we would argue the most beautiful.

In 2006 we were honored with becoming the youngest brewery ever to win not just one, but two, World Beer Cup awards. Our brewery brought home a Bronze medal for our Peg Leg Porter (now the Painted Rock Porter) and a Silver medal for our Mutiny Stout (now the 369′ Stout).

By 2010, Greg’s daughter Sandy Johnston joined the crew and took over as General Manager and helped remodel the taproom in Woods Bay into a pubhouse and started on the rebranding of the company’s look.

By 2012 the Woods Bay brewery was at full production and plans were made to expand. With not wanting to leave home (Bigfork) the old bowling alley in Bigfork was acquired and the next two years were spent remodeling the building to become one of the most sustainable breweries in Montana. In 2015, Sandy’s FLBC Pubhouse and Greg’s second brewery opened in Bigfork.

Now, one can find an FLBC ale throughout Montana, Eastern Washington, and northern Idaho.

We at FLBC work hard, play harder, and do everything to the highest standard. For us, it’s about being leaders in the beer industry, it’s about supporting local and environmental sustainability, and it’s about contributing to the community that has so graciously embraced us. Most importantly for our crew, it’s about making beer and food that we are proud of. We love what we do, and we hope you do too.

Montana is the Treasure State, and we are Montana’s Liquid Treasure.



Great beer calls for quality ingredients and quality ingredients require a healthy environment. So it should follow that sustainable brewing makes better beer, right? Well, we’re putting that theory to test and we think its working.


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an accreditation program established by the U.S. Green Building Council to change the way we design, construct and operate our buildings and communities. LEED awards points for meeting criteria in various categories such as Sustainable Sites,  Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation in Design. The more points a project receives the higher the certification.  For our Bigfork brewpub we are pursuing a LEED Certification for New Construction and Major Renovations. It’s been an awesome challenge and the ideals are something that we try to apply to all our operations.


For our Bigfork facility we chose to renovate an old bowling alley near the heart of Bigfork. Doing so improves a vacant site within the community and increases connectivity by allowing more people to walk or bike from the surrounding area.  Formerly, this site had no storm water infrastructure and potentially contaminated surface run-off was allowed to flush downhill into the lake.  We improved this condition by designing our roof and parking lots so that the vast majority of storm water is collected and cleaned as it infiltrates to the aquifer.


Remodeling the bowling alley required a lot of demolition work.  However, we were able to divert much of our waste from the landfill by carefully sorting and re-purposing demolition materials:

  • Many materials were reused in the finished building including 100% of the insulation
  • Windows, doors, ceiling tiles and duct work were donated to Habitat for Humanity
  • Scrap steel was donated to local groups to sell for fundraising
  • Concrete and asphalt were crushed and offered as clean fill for local projects

Building and interior design materials for the Bigfork facility were selected with preference towards regional and recycled sources:

  • 100% of our brick was reclaimed from old buildings in Spokane
  • 100% of our lumber is locally sourced
  • Vinoture furniture is made from old wine barrels   
  • Four trees on the property that had to be cut down were used as trim for the building’s interior

Effluent Reuse  –  This isn’t your typical geothermal system. Our facility borrows clean effluent from the nearby Bigfork Water and Sewer District and uses it to run several WaterFurnace heat pumps.  This equipment provides heating and cooling for our building and processes. Cheers to the folks at JE Engineering for designing this system and to all the residents of Bigfork for providing us with this renewable source of energy!



Energy Efficiency –  Energy-efficient appliances and our “Effluent-Thermal” System significantly reduce the energy demands of our facility.

Solar Thermal –  The sun isn’t just for fun. We’re putting it to work with four solar collectors on our roof that soak up rays and heat water for kitchen. Check out Apricus Solar Hot Water for more information on this technology.

Atmosphere –  NO and NO2 are compounds that can be formed during combustion and contribute to smog and acid rain. Our Bigfork facility uses a low-NOx Parker boiler to reduce these emissions, keeping the air clean and clear so you can enjoy the view while you have your brew.


Installation of low-flow fixtures reduces our facility’s water usage.


Good for beer and good for the environment, cans are the ultimate sustainable packaging.  We started canning in 2015 and this is why:

  • Cans keep out light and prevent beer from skunking
  • Cans go where bottles don’t. Take them up the mountain, down the river and across the lake without worrying about breakage. When you’re done crush ‘em down and pack ‘em out
  • Aluminum cans are 100% recyclable. 75% of all aluminum that has ever been produced is still in use today (www.cancentral.com/sustainability)
  • Cans take less energy to produce, ship and refrigerate than glass bottles.
  • For more information on cans in the craft beer industry check out www.craftcans.com

Breweries historically produce a lot of waste.  At FLBC we’re always working to divert solid waste from the landfill by reducing, reusing and recycling.  100% of our spent grain is given to local farms where it is used as feed for livestock.


We are constantly striving to decrease our energy and water usage and urge you to do the same.  Instead of just paying your monthly bills (or blissfully ignoring them), try tracking them in a spreadsheet, making a graph, framing it, showing your friends.  They’ll love it!  Once you know what you’re using, set goals for reductions and brainstorm ways to achieve them.  Then you can calculate your savings and reward yourself by buying dinner and drinks at your favorite local Brewpub!


The Montana Sustainabrew Award was created to highlight a Montana brewery for their efforts in sustainability and to demonstrate that business decisions made with sustainability and conservation in mind are good for their beer, their business and their community. On April 24th, 2018 we were honored with receiving this inaugural award sponsored by the Montana Brewers Association, Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund, and Montana Renewable Energy Association.

The Flathead Lake Brewing Co. came in THIRD place in the nationwide Brews from the Sun competition put on by Solar United Neighbors. We couldn’t have done it without the amazing community we have here in the Flathead Valley and beyond. THANK YOU to everyone (all 771 of you) who took the time to vote for us. This competition was a great tool to help us educate more people on the sustainable aspects of our brewery and why we feel that using solar power is an important aspect of our overall goal of being environmentally responsible