Friday, May 5, 2017

Happiest Hour early edition: The 25th annual Garden City BrewFest

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 4:16 PM

Where you’re drinking: Yeah, as if you don't already know. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the bulk of Craft Beer Week, tomorrow, May 6, is Missoula’s annual Garden City BrewFest. And it’s become something of an Indy tradition over the years for us to pick through the offerings ahead of time so as to give our beer-sodden readers a nudge in the direction of a few thirst-inducing brews. Without further ado—because seriously, we’ve all got some drinking to do—here’s a rundown of the taps we’ll be elbowing our way to come Saturday.

Enter the dirty 30s:
This year marks the 25th anniversary for Montana’s oldest brewfest, but that’s not the only commemoration on display. Bayern Brewing (Montana’s oldest craft brewery. Theme!) is celebrating its 30th year producing beer in the fine tradition of Germany’s purity law. To honor the occasion, Jürgen Knöller and his compatriots have brewed up a 30th anniversary pilsener. If the flagship Bayern Pilsener it’s based on is any indication, this 5.4 percent ABV beer will be well worth the hype.

Not quite to sweet 16: Bayern isn’t the only Montana brewery marking a milestone in 2017. Helena-based Lewis and Clark Brewing has officially turned 15, and while that’s still a ways from legal drinking age, it’s as good an excuse as any to release an anniversary IPA. The description promises a hopped-up, pleasantly bitter brew with the brawniness of a varsity linebacker—7.4 percent to be exact.

One birthday slightly used: OK, so this one’s a holdover, but it’s still worth mentioning. Last year, Red Lodge Ales tapped a new brew commemorating the 125th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park’s Lake Hotel. The 1891 Summer Ale—infused with honey and boasting a mellow, citrusy taste—was enough of a success that it’s back to ring in the hotel’s 126th birthday. Or, you know, just provide Missoulians a 5.1-percent break from all those high-octane IPAs.

Old brewery, new brew: Usually when the Garden City BrewFest rolls around, the offerings from Harvest Moon are pretty familiar—namely Beltian Wheat or Pig’s Ass Porter. This year the brewery has cooked up something new: a seasonal called Watermelon Wheat. As the name suggests, this American wheat beer is pretty big on the watermelon flavor. And since the brew is still in diapers, so to speak, we’ll consider this one a “first birthday” situation.

Where the party's at:
The 25th annual Garden City BrewFest kicks off at noon on Saturday, May 6, in Caras Park. Certain brews tend to go pretty quick, so get there early.

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