The 22nd annual Garden City BrewFest is still a week away, but for the third year in a row, Missoula has one heck of a primer in store. Sunday marks the beginning of Missoula Craft Beer Week, a seven-day lead-up to BrewFest that's crammed about as full of awesome events as you can imagine. The celebration—founded by local brew fanatics Ryan Newhouse and Alan McCormick and sponsored by Draught Works and the Missoula Downtown Association—promises to be a party befitting this state's booming craft beer industry. This year's docket includes upwards of 30 separate event listings, from all-day blind beer tastings at the Rhino to brewer's dinners at various local breweries and restaurants. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Brews on the Block (Party): Immediately following Draught Works' Bacon 'n' Beer breakfast Sunday, beer drinkers will be congregating along Toole Avenue between the brewery and Summer Sun Garden and Brew for a massive block party from 12:30 to 6 p.m. The afternoon includes bar games, brewing demos, outdoor cinema and rides on Missoula's Thirst Gear brew bike.
Kettlehouse's Female Cream Ale: At 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Kettlehouse Northside will be tapping a limited special release of its popular Female Cream Ale, a recipe crafted by former K-Hole brewer Colleen Bitter Stiles and current brewer Corey Regini. Word from Regini is that she invited all of Kettlehouse's female employees to lend a hand in brewing this batch. "We didn't let testosterone touch it," she says. Regini is also working to launch a state or regional chapter of the Pink Boots Society.
Inaugural Craft Beer Cup: Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., teams of locals will be participating in the Craft Beer Cup, a competition that stretches across nine bars. It's mini-golf meets pub crawl, with teams of four to six people drinking beer from nine breweries while putting nine different holes. Registration fee is $20 per person, and the event promises to be replete with brew swag and prizes. The costume theme is "Tweeds 'N Knickers."
Of course, we're just scratching the surface here. Bayern Brewing is tapping its first batch of Dump Truck next week. Glacier Ice Rink is hosting a beer-based hockey and figure skating showcase. The Top Hat is screening a beer documentary. Check out www.missoulabeerweek.com for the full rundown.