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Helena Brew Fest, Helena Montana

Helena Brew Fest
Boomer at the Helena Brew Fest

I am always looking for a reason to visit Montana. It’s beautiful scenery, fast speed limits and well let’s be honest… the beer! My friend Jen, Boomer and I headed over to Helena in the morning last summer. It was a bit of a drive but we did not mind as we all love visiting Montana and we all love beer, Boomer included.

Helena Brew Fest
Helena Brew Fest

Helena was hosting their 150th birthday and because Helena knows how to throw a birthday party they invited 22 of Montana Breweries, who brought along 77 different Montana beers. Now that’s what I call a good start to a party. The also invited some bands, one of which was Wylie and the Wild West, although I was not familiar with them Jen informed me that Wylie is the guy who does the Yahoo yodel. Jen is always a wealth of knowledge.  I am not sure where she picks it all up from, but I’m positive she’d do well on Jeopardy.

After receiving the go-ahead from the festival staff, we brought Boomer in with us to the festival. I have taken Boomer to beer fests in the past as a solo traveler and it never works out well. Because he’s short (when compared to a human) people don’t see him, specifically people who may have had some beers in them. He gets stepped on and I get pissy. He probably gets pissy too, because who likes getting stepped on. This go around worked out well as Jen and I could trade off holding his leash while the other person got their beer. It took the fun out of us deciding on beers together but we rarely do that anyway as Jen and I do not have the same taste in beer.

Helena Brew Fest
Boomer likes beer just as much as I do!

After pursuing the beer list I decided to start with Lewis & Clark Brewing Company’s Prickly Pear Pale Ale. Lewis & Clark is a local Helena Brewery and this would be my first taste of their beer. I liked this one so much that I ended up buying a 6 pack of cans later and bringing it home with me. It had a fresh crispness to it with a medium alcohol by volume (ABV) of 5.3%, which makes it an all day drinker if you ask me!

My next taste was the Redheaded IPA from Beaver Creek Brewery, located in Wibaux.  This beer is a 7.3% ABV and dry hopped. I love a good red beer along with dry hopping makes for a nicely done IPA.

Up next was a taste from an o’ favorite brewery, Great Northern Brewing out of Whitefish Montana. I tasted the Good Medicine, which is classified as a strong red ale. It has a decent 7.5% ABV and had a nice malty balance.

I am not a fan of lager beers but I decided to give the Winter at Noon beer a try from Kalispell Brewing. It was a good lager beer, but not really my style. A decent 5% ABV but the 18 International Bittering Unit (IBU) was too bland for this hop head.

I got back on the IPA wagon with Madison River Brewing’s Dropper IPA. Madison River Brewing is out of Belgrade (that’s Montana, not Serbia), and has a nice tight collection of beers. The Dropper has a 6.2% ABV and a flavorful amount of hops.

Outlaw Brewing was my next stop. I gave their Passive Aggressive Pale Ale a try, mostly because I found the name amusing. This pale ale comes in with a 6.7% ABV. The hop flavors were interesting with some spice but the Liberty Hops used for this beer lack the punch I look for in “aggressive” beers.

I know you’re probably starting to judge me on a number of beers I have tasted so far and you can see that the list continues on below. Although tastings were limitless, they were just tastings, not full pints 🙂  Now that I have dismissed my shame, let’s continue.

A few years ago I pulled into Philipsburg Montana with hopes that Philipsburg Brewing would be open.  I had heard it was but when I located the site of the brewery my heart broke. Papered windows and obviously no beer. Philipsburg finally opened their doors last year and I was excited to finally try their beer. I selected the Silver Chief IPA. It was a 7.3% ABV with some dry hopping and two great hop flavors, Citra and cascade.

Helena Brew Fest
Tamarack Brewing Am-Bru-Lance

I have been yip-yapping about Tamarack Brewing out of Lakeside Montana for years. Their Yard Sale Ale is one of the best ales around Montana. I broke from tradition however and selected the Blue Jay White IPA. Another dry hop, which I love, but this beer reminded me a lot of a Saison farmhouse style in flavors, with lots of spices and orange peel flavors. The beer was also served out of Tamarack’s Am-Bru-Lance – which is hilarious if you ask me.

My last full taste was the American Mutt Pale Ale. Another beer picked for its funny name. I could not pass it up because I had my American Mutt with me at the festival. This beer is from Triple Dog Brewing out of Havre Montana, a town kind of in the middle of nowhere. The beer has a decent 6.9% ABV and a good amount of hop flavor.

I also sneaked a taste of one of Jen’s beers, the 1864 Old Ale by Blackfoot River Brewing, who is out of Helena. Jen really enjoyed this beer but I was not the biggest fan. Which was strange because the beer was brewed with rye and I typically love beers made with rye. This beer had a 5.7% ABV and a 35 IBU. This beer was interesting in the fact that the brewery was trying to replicate a beer that you may have been able to find in Helena back in 1864.

After our day of fun, I ended up earning the Untappd Take It Easy Badge: “Either you must be sampling or you really like beer. That’s 12 beers in 1 day”. Well, I was just sampling but I do really like beer too 🙂 I also think that Boomer had a great time at the beer festival as he received a large amount of pets and hugs from fellow beer drinkers. I’m sure he allowed the affection only because he believed he would be able to sneak some beer from the people.

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