Sacred Waters Brewing Co., Kalispell
Story & Photography by Lido Vizzutti
Jordan Van Eimeren remembers the way her mom could hold court around the campfire.
At the end of a long day spent in the deep wild of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the guests of Spotted Bear Ranch would gather at the fire, passing along tales of heroism, one-upmanship and close calls from the day’s adventures.
Van Eimeren’s father, Kirk Gentry, owned the celebrated ranch from 1993 to 2005 — running it for another two after that — and her mother, Cathy, would be there fireside, stoking the creative retelling of stories.
Cathy passed away in 2015 after battling cancer for nearly six years. Sacred Waters Brewing Co. is Van Eimeren’s way of celebrating her mom’s “love of wild places and people.” Growing up at the confluence of the South Fork Flathead and Spotted Bear rivers inspired in Van Eimeren a love of wilderness and her backyard waterways.
“I want to share (mom’s) personality and love of people,” Van Eimeren said. “This is my tribute to her. No matter what business I did, I wanted her there with me.”
“We really want to celebrate and promote the wilderness waters around here,” she added. “And the wild and scenic of the South Fork and Spotted Bear is a very special place to us.”
That’s why 10 cents of every The Bob IPA sold goes to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation.
“I’ve grown up loving and adoring the Bob Marshall,” Van Eimeren said. “I wanted our IPA to have a presence for everything we encompass.”
Joe Byers, head brewer at Sacred Waters, laughs as he confesses he hasn’t spent “too much time up in the Bob” because he’s spent “too much time in the brewery.”
“The style (IPA) is very open to interpretation these days,” Byers said. “With this particular beer, we decided West Coast (style) was the way to go to represent what we envisioned with that rugged wilderness area.”
This means using classic, northwest-style hops focusing on citrus and pine notes and building a bitter, dry beer with big hop flavors.
“But we’re trying to also get a unique thumbprint on it,” he said. “So we’re using a German yeast with it.”
The German kolsh yeast is certainly a different direction for an American IPA.
“Which I was scared to use,” said Byers, laughing. “I had never made an IPA with that yeast. But I think the flavor matches pretty well.”
The Bob is work in progress, with Byers “trying to find the best representation of this style that we can make and present.”
For example, the current batch has a small amount of oat, which in the next batch will be replaced with a slight bit of rye. The rye should add a bit more spice, Byers said, and a subtlety of flavor. Byers is also tweaking the hops in the next batch as well, changing Warrior and Bravo out for Loral and Simcoe.
“(The IPA) is unique, and that’s what the Bob Marshall is,” Van Eimeren said. “It’s unique and untouched. I love the new flavors I get out of tasting it every time. It’s always something a little bit different.”
The Bob is a dry IPA with hints of apple and pear esters and a piney, clean finish.
“We’re intentionally trying to restrain the caramel malts,” Byers said. “We want to let the hops come but with some restraint. There are some nuanced flavors in there.”
The camaraderie through stories has moved from the campfire to the bar stool for Van Eimeren and her father. Cathy still holds court over the room, however — in the photos of Van Eimeren and her mother playing in the cold waters, and of Cathy grinning into the camera from under a white cowboy hat, and in the logo of Cathy wading hip deep into a river, casting a rod into the setting sun.
Cathy still reminds us, “Everyone has a story and everyone needs a friend.” That everyone has their own sacred waters.
Style India Pale Ale (IPA) IBU 75 ABV 7.2% Malts Pilsner, 2-row, Oats, Carapils Hops Amarillo, Ekuanot, Chinook, Warrior, Bravo Yeast German Kolsch Appearance Bright, golden hay color, unfiltered and cloudy due to dry hopping. Description Dry and clean. Light effervescence with first sips, palm fruit esters with light malt character. Citrusy and floral hop notes with subtle pine aroma. Finishes dry, piney and clean.