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Christensen family to open Columbia Falls' first brewery

Published On: Jan 30 2013 01:38:54 PM MST   Updated On: Jan 09 2013 10:31:00 PM MST

Kelley Christensen is no stranger to Columbia Falls - as a former editor of the Hungry Horse News, she saw potential in the small city and moved back to the area with her husband Shawn and son Jonathan last year to start Desert Mountain Brewing.

"We wanted to start our own business and be in a profession that we knew would be there for many years to come," said Kelley Christensen.

Desert Mountain is a welcome addition to several other craft breweries in the area - Marcus Duffey of Great Northern Brewing Company said there's no competition, but rather camaraderie, within the valley.

"A lot of people that seek out breweries don't pick one over the other," Duffey explained. "They're going to swing through Whitefish, see us. They'll swing through Columbia Falls and see those guys."

The Christensens are hoping the busy Highway 2 corridor helps to draw in visitors recreating in or near Glacier National Park, but they also have a soft spot for the locals.

"Pubs come from the term 'public house,' meaning a place where you can gather," said Christensen. "We just want to be a place where people are comfortable coming and having a good time on a regular basis."

"People come to towns like Whitefish and Columbia Falls wanting to know what locals do," said Duffey. "If you don't have your bread and butter locals your tourists may come in, but it's not going to be the strong, sustainable draw that you want for a business like this."

Duffey wishes Desert Mountain luck in their endeavors, and sees the new brewery as a way to draw in even more people to a place where shopping, eating, and drinking local are mainstays.

For more on Desert Mountain Brewing, visit their website and Facebook page.