What you're doing: Once a year, people in Missoula try to prove their love for beer by drinking it outside in the dead of winter. Winter Brewfest, sponsored by the Missoula Downtown Association, showcases brews from across the state, and this year promises a lineup of 45 beers representing 27 breweries. You can't try them all (or can you?), but drinkers should expect to sip on standard favorites, seasonals and oddball one-offs. Speaking of oddball, there are a few Brewfest beers with names that worry and/or intrigue me—which means they'll be the first ones I try.
Veiled Philosopher Double Black IPA: This IPA from Imagine Nation Brewing sounds vaguely like a spell you cast during your weekly tabletop role-playing game. Owner Robert Rivers says it's the most complex beer the brewery makes—a balance of dark malts and citrus and tropical hops. As it turns out, the name is a reference to Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos. "Everybody's in for a revolution these days," Rivers says.
McGinnis Mist Scotch Ale: Although it would be the perfect name for a sassy private investigator, this beer from Libby's Cabinet Mountain Brewing is named after a meadow outside of town. The peaty, earthy scotch ale has apparently become a popular choice for brewery patrons.
Paramour Cherry Chocolate Stout: Do you want a beer or do you want dessert? Seems like the folks at Meadowlark Brewing in Sidney aren't making you choose. The Paramour is made with Belgian bittersweet chocolate and dark sweet cherry concentrate, making it taste a lot like chocolate-covered cherries. "Almost to the point where you question if it's a beer," says owner Travis Peterson.
Jazz Hands Simcoe IPA: What happens when a bunch of brewers sit around a campfire, presumably drinking beer, and considering what to call their newest brew? Jazz Hands happens. The West Coast-style specialty IPA from Great Burn Brewing is made with Chinook and Simcoe hops. "It dances on your tongue," says Great Burn co-owner Michael Howard.
How to go: At Caras Park Fri., Feb. 24, from 5 to 9 PM. $15 will get you one 7-ounce commemorative glass to add to your collection and three beer tokens. Additional tokens are two for $3.