Tuesday, September 13, 2011

2011 Montana Brewers Festival: A Showcase of Quality, Variety

Quality and variety were on display Friday evening as craft beer lovers by the hundreds took turns talking to brewers and  fellow fans while taking in some of the 70+ Montana brewed beers at the 2011 Montana Brewer's Festival.  It was a beautiful sunny evening in Bozeman and the only troubling aspect was figuring out where to start. (More pictures here.)

IPAs initially appeared to dominate the offerings, but a closer look revealed widely ranging styles from light lagers to Belgians and saisons, to Russian imperial stouts.  There was certainly something for everyone and judging by the excitement and buzz of the crowd, there was a lot of love for our Montana brewers.

We made a point of trying brews we've never had before along with breweries that are a bit out of the way from Missoula.  That means beer from Wibaux and Wolfpoint, for example, and I know what you're thinking.  They brew beer in Wibaux and Wolfpoint?  Yes, they do, and the stuff from Beaver Creek and Missouri Breaks is darn good, too.  We particularly enjoyed Beaver Creek's Paddlefish Stout and Missouri Break's Rattlesnake IPA. 

Others that stood out were Carter's Hop Delivery Vehicle IPA and Faux Pas Belgian Style Stout.  We heard some buzz about Bozone's Barrel Aged Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout, but couldn't find the stout behind all the raspberry aroma and flavor.  On the other hand, Bozone's Hopsimellia Imperial IPA and its 100+ ibus/10.8% abv was crazy good, combining a complex citrus/pine bitter bite with a rich, yeasty malt serving tray.  Blackfoot River' 2010 Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine is one I wish I'd had the chance to sit back and sip for an extended period.  The vanilla and bourbon flavors provided an excellent compliment to the barleywine, avoiding the overwhelming dominance too common of barrel aged beers.

There were several we didn't have a chance to try, some because they ran out and some simply due to lack of personal capacity.  Neptune's Imperial Brown Ale is one I missed, but I did rather enjoy their chocolate cream porter.  We took our time and practiced pacing, stopping for water and slices of pizza and the chance to talk with a few of the brewers. We enjoyed visiting with some Growler Fills fans and made a few new ones, too.  The music played on as we called it a night and vowed to return to the next Festival.  To see a collection of pictures from the event, check out our 2011 Montana Brewers Festival set here.

When the morning hunger and thirst hits you in Bozeman, head over to the Cateye Cafe for some awesome breakfast and Wild Joe's for some of the best coffee anywhere.


  1. We had a great time at the Brewers Festival! It was great to meet you and visit a bit. Dan Hare

  2. It was great to visit with you as well, Dan. The festival exceeded our expectations and we're looking forward to the next. Great beer, great people, great conversation. Cheers.