Happiest Hour: The Montana Brewers Fall Festival 

What you’re drinking: Beer, duh. Tonight is the seventh annual Montana Brewers Fall Festival in Caras Park, featuring more than 150 beers from 41 Montana breweries. Many of those brews will be special festival releases. And in the name of, um, research, the Indy crew got a chance to sample a smattering of them in advance of today’s festivities so we could tell you, the reader, what tickled out tastebuds most.
click to enlarge Sam Hoffmann and Doug "The Beerbarian" Bailey of Red Lodge Ales preview their Harvest Ale, one of dozens of festival release brews set to debut at the Montana Brewers Fall Festival. - ALEX SAKARIASSEN
  • Alex Sakariassen
  • Sam Hoffmann and Doug "The Beerbarian" Bailey of Red Lodge Ales preview their Harvest Ale, one of dozens of festival release brews set to debut at the Montana Brewers Fall Festival.

Where to begin:
If you were following any of our reporters’ Twitter feeds during our “speed-dating with brewers” Oct. 15, you’ll know we were blown away by pretty much everything. There were some crisp, easy-drinking options—Meadowlark Brewing’s Squashtoberfest and Red Lodge’s Harvest Ale for example—as well as some hoppier options like Kalispell Brewing’s new Fresh Hop By Pop and Bozone’s Terroir IPA. Frankly, any one of them would prove a good starting point come festival time.

What to savor: Some of the festival releases fell strongly under the “dessert” category. Descriptions of Neptune’s Oktoberfest put one in mind of a well-spiced pumpkin pie, and the Mae West Huckleberry Sour sounded like a pleasantly tart treat. The Vanilla Imperial Porter from Mighty Mo definitely stood out with a blend of vanilla and chocolate notes reminiscent of a milkshake.

How to be bold: Last month, Billings-based Uberbrew became the first Montana brewery to win the Alpha King Challenge at the Great American Beer Festival. The honor goes only to the hoppiest of beers, and Uberbrew’s Double Tap Tactical IPA claimed victory for obvious reasons. The earthy, hoppy aroma serves as a sort of early warning system; make it past that and you’re in for a sinus-clearing rush. Odds are the last of the Double Tap will disappear fast.

Where to go: The Montana Brewers Fall Festival is going down from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 16 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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