On a day when the weather provided everything from pouring rain to sunny October blue skies to howling winds, 2,500 participants at the 6th Annual Montana Brewers Festival had 137+ opportunities to appreciate some of the finest beer anywhere.
The 2014 festival, held Saturday, October 11, was my fourth and one thing was readily apparent: the quality and variety of Montana beer continues to take significant leaps forward. Many of the new breweries are coming right out of the block with excellent beers. Established ones demonstrated expertise in emerging trends such as sours while reviving styles which had all but disappeared over the past decade.
Missoula’s homebrewing club, the Zoo City Zymurgists, provided groups of judges who had the difficult job of picking the best beers out of the 137+ entries. (Full disclosure, I participated in a small group assembled to select the Best in Show/Best of Festival from among the category winners.) Here are the results:
Light Ale – Draughtworks “That’s What She Said” Cream Ale
Belgian – Homestead Ales “Autumnal Saison”
IPA – Canyon Creek “C-4” IPA
Sour – Flathead Lake Brewing Co “American Sour”
Dark Lager – Überbrew Sticke
Wheat – Bozeman Brewing Co “Bozone Hefeweizen”
Pale Ale – Bridger Brewing Co “Lee Metcalf Pale Ale”
Imperial – Philipsburg Brewing “Headframe Stout”
Amber – Tamarack Brewing “Yard Sale” Amber
Marzen – Neptune Brewing “Oktoberfest”
Fruit Beer – Tamarack Brewing “Sip N Go Naked”
Light Lager – Bayern “Montana Helles”
Dark Ale – Kalispell Brewing “Snowslip” Stout
Best of Show and Best of Festival: Flathead Lake Brewing Company’s “American Sour Ale”
The big winners were the consumers whose interest in great beer continues to rise along with the exponential growth in the number of breweries and varieties of beer.
Here are a few photos from the fun.