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Sacred Waters ferments beer competition honor into expansion

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| July 7, 2024 12:00 AM

Building off its success at the World Beer Cup, Sacred Waters Brewing Company is now looking to double its production.  


The brewing company entered several of its beers in the 2024 competition also known as the “Olympics of Beer” and ended up with a bronze medal in the “best chili beer” for its Lil Salmon Fire.  


“At the beer cup, people were saying that they are keeping an eye on Sacred Waters,” said owner Jordan Gentry. “That's totally a testament to our team, Seth, Marty, and Kylie, for making an incredible beer. What they do for just the three of them is so impressive.” 


Since 1996, the World Beer Cup has been one of the most distinguished events to celebrate the art and science of brewing. It is recognized on a global scale, and every year, thousands of breweries enter thousands of beers to win in categories like “best lager” or “best experimental beer.” With such steep competition, winning a gold, silver, or bronze medal in any of the 110 categories is a challenge.  


In addition to the bronze medal, several of Sacred Waters’ beers went on to the final rounds of judging.  


General Manager of Sacred Waters Jackie Evans said the World Beer Cup is the biggest competition in the world with around 10,000 submissions coming from over 50 different countries. 


Sacred Waters is now looking to increase its capacity to brew by adding 30 barrels, allowing it to take on untapped areas such as Glacier National Park and Whitefish Mountain Resort.  


Head brewer Seth Orr said it's a rigorous process of becoming a judge for the World Beer Cup and the judging process itself.  


“You have to go through a four-year process to become a judge, so each judge that's sitting on a table is not only vetted, but bona fide, the most amazing,” he said. “The beers go through a series of eliminations and the beers that go on make it to a semi round. There are a couple semi-rounds, then the top 12 go onto the final table, the medal table. Out of those 12, our Lil Salmon Fire won third.” 


According to the World Beer Cup’s website, judges are assigned only to judge beers in their specific area of expertise and judge blind with “no brand knowledge of any kind provided to judges.” Judges are also not required to select winners in any category if the beer is not to a particular standard. 


In the future, Orr hopes to sit as a judge and has already started the process.  


For the award-winning Lil Salmon Fire chili pepper ale, the Sacred Waters team hand selects and cuts peppers which are then integrated into the beer through a mash. Then, the beer is whirlpooled, a simple mixing process which improves flavor and aroma. Beers are then bottled according to regulations and sent overnight to the competition, arriving cold and fresh.  


“Our beer is known as clean and straightforward without any super complicated flavor profiles,” Orr said explaining the judges’ description of Sacred Waters’ beer entries. 


“We don't plan on being too big as we are trying to fit this niche market,” Orr added. “We'll continue to literally hand make small batch beer on a large scale with consistency. We're proving that our beer fits on the level of breweries that have millions of dollars and we're able to do it with a mash paddle, carbon dioxide, and just the three of us.” 


Sacred Waters is also planning to start canning another one of its beers and has redesigned its can designs with the help of Morgan Krieg of Highline Design to reflect their story and mission better.  


To get a feel for which of the beers should receive the honor of its own can, Sacred Waters plans to enter the International Beer Awards in the U.S. Open and the Great American Beer Fest. 


“We want to see where our beer stands now that it's vetted and be on the same level as the big breweries that are winning awards,” said Orr. 


The redesign shows owner Gentry, her father and business partner Kirk Gentry, and her late mother on each can. While Gentry said the whole family’s happy place is on the water, each has their own way of reflecting that love. For Gentry, it's rafting, for her father it’s horse packing, and for her mother it was fly fishing, and each can tell the story of the passion for what Gentry calls the “sacred waters.” 


Sacred Waters Brewing Company is located at 3250 U.S. 2 E in Kalispell and is open Monday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. For more information, visit sacredwatersbrewing.com, call 406-257-1992, or email info@sacredwatersbrewing.com. 


Reporter Summer Zalesky may be reached at szalesky@dailyinterlake.com. 



 

    Sacred Waters Brewing Company's Catch 'Em Lager, Hungry Horse Hazy IPA and The Bob India Pale Ale on Wednesday, July 3. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 



    Seth Orr, Kirk Gentry and Jordan Gentry at Sacred Waters Brewing Company on Wednesday, July 3. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Seth Orr, head brewer at Sacred Waters Brewing Company, starts a brew at the brewery. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider 
 
 
    Sacred Waters Brewing Company brewer Marty Vollmer sweeps spent grain into a bin, which the company then donates to a local farmer for use on Wednesday, July 3. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
 Casey Kreider