Great Northern Brewing Company – Black Star Barter

By Ashley Garver

Black Star, the golden lager from the Great Northern Brewing Company in Whitefish, Montana may certainly not be the first brewery to give value to their beloved brew, but they are the first to make it an official currency. On Saturday, February 4, 2012, Black Star and the Great Northern Brewery are hosting the second annual Black Star Barter in Downtown Whitefish, asking beer enthusiasts the question, “What would you do or trade for a year’s supply of beer?” Contestants will barter various beer-worthy objects and talents for their chance at a year of beer!

The Black Star Barter originated in 2000, when Minott Wessinger, founder of Black Star and great-grandson of brewing pioneer Henry Weinhard, placed an ad in the local Whitefish newspaper asking residents to come down to the brewery and bring any item to barter in exchange for Black Star beer. The Barter was a hit, drawing local farmers and residents into the brewery to showcase their prized live stock, attic treasures and trinkets. 

Resurrected in 2011 as an official part of the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival, the Black Star Barter drew over 1,000 spectators who came to watch as beer lovers bartered their most over-the-top, outrageous submissions with the hopes of winning a year’s supply of the crisp and refreshing golden lager. From singing dogs to fine woodcraft, whitewater rafting trips and personal aerial drops of beer to your doorstep, barters came from across the Big Sky state for their chance at winning the grand price—52 cases of Black Star beer. 

2011 Black Star Barter

With their submission of a year’s worth of hilariously creative radio ad spots, filled with colorful vernacular and cunning wit, Tucker and Leah from Missoula, Montana won over the judging panel and took home the gold in the 2011 Black Star Barter.

On Saturday, February 4, 2012, the second annual Black Star Barter will be held in front of the Great Northern Brewery, home of Black Star. The Great Northern Brewery, built in 1994 by Minott Wessinger, is equipped with a gravity-flow system for the purpose of brewing the finest quality lager and other year-round and seasonal style beers. Though Black Star is the only beer from the brewery available outside of the state of Montana, the Great Northern Brewery offers 14 plus brews from Wild Huckleberry Wheat to Fred’s Black Lager that you can enjoy in their Black Star Draught House.

This year, Black Star and The Great Northern Brewery are expecting an even greater crowd at the Barter with fierce competition among the contestants. Barterers and their entries must be present in order to win as there will only be one winner.

“There is no telling what this year’s Barter will bring,” says founder of Black Star, Minott Wessinger. “The suspense and spontaneity of the Black Star Barter is what makes the event so exciting.  Well, that and the 32oz mugs of Black Star.” 

Immediately following the Barter, Black Star and the Great Northern Brewing Company will open the brewery doors to the entire community in celebration of 17 years of fine brewing at their 17th Anniversary Party. Joe Barberis head brewer, has prepared an Anniversary Black Lager especially for the occasion. “It’s a smooth and roasty Black Lager with sensible barrel-aged character that you won’t want to miss,” says Barberis.

Learn more about the Black Star Barter or email

Find Black Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact Info

Company: Great Northern Brewing Company
Contact: Ashley Garver