Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happiest Hour: Garden City BrewFest

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 4:00 PM

It’s the time of year for the 22nd annual Garden City BrewFest, when our cups can’t runneth over enough. Breweries from across the state and country will be setting up shop in Caras Park with nearly 70 beers, so we’ve pulled together a few suggestions to help make the day a little easier to navigate.

Heart of Darkness: Draught Works cooked up a black IPA that comes in at a fairly tame 5.7 percent alcohol by volume. The beer is a fusion of chocolate and black malts with some serious bitterness from 13 separate hops additions. It’s a porter-ish brew with a nice hoppy bite.

Montana Lager: Bayern brewer Justin Lee gave us some backstory on this helles lager a while back. The recipe was originally an exclusive brewed for a bar in Seattle, but it got such a great reception at competitions last year (including a silver medal at the North American Beer Awards) that the brewery decided to try it on a wider audience. Perfect timing.

Quilter’s Irish Death: This year marks the first appearance of the Washington-based Iron Horse Brewery at BrewFest, and already they’ve piqued our curiosity. We’re particularly looking forward to this hefty dark ale (7.8 percent), which the brewery refers to as “beer candy.”

Gambler American Amber: BrewFest can be a point of frustration for the gluten intolerant, which is why we’re glad to see at least one beer on this year’s list billed as “gluten friendly.” Belgrade’s Outlaw Brewery says the Gambler is less sweet and more hoppy than your run-of-the-mill amber ale, and is brewed with an enzyme that makes it a nice gluten-reduced option.

Mandarin White IPA: Not everyone is a fruit beer fan, but Tamarack is walking the line with a generously hopped IPA that happens to be brewed with 3.5 pounds of mandarin oranges per barrel. At 6.8 percent, it might not be the fruity session beer that shandy and cherry ale fans yearn for, but sometimes it’s nice to have the best of two worlds.

Where to go: Garden City BrewFest starts at noon on Saturday, May 3, in Caras Park.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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