Fifth annual Beer Fest in West

By Taylor-Ann Smith EBS Graphic Designer

WEST YELLOWSTONE – Breweries and beer lovers gathered on Oct. 17 at the West Yellowstone Holiday Inn to celebrate craft beer. During the fifth annual Beer Fest in West, participants tasted unlimited samples from 14 breweries and two distilleries, while enjoying classic German cuisine and local music.

While most of the vendors hailed from Montana and Wyoming, Upslope Brewery from Boulder, Colo., and Cincinnati’s Angry Orchard Cider brought new faces and flavors to the mix.

image5Montana breweries in attendance included Big Sky Brewing Co., Red Lodge Ales, Lewis & Clark Brewing Company, Outlaw Brewing, and Madison River Brewing Co. Everything from smooth golden ales to bock lagers to seasonal specialties were available to sip out of a special tasting stein that came with event entry.

New to this year’s event was the addition of the “HomeBrew Fest in West” competition. Home brewers poured their best beer in various categories including pale ale, Scottish ale, stout/porter, IPA, and spiced, vying for a $250 beer kit gift card. Nicholas Matulich took home first place with his pale bitter European beer named Rheinhart; Chris King came in second for his spiced Mayan Porter; and Derek Wolf placed third with his aptly named Scottish ale, Great Scott.

For those hoping to try some award-winning brews, there was no shortage at Beer Fest. Madison River took home a gold medal in early October for its Cold Smoke Scotch Ale at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

In 2014, Draught Works won very small brewery and very small brewing company brewer of the year at GABF. The Missoula-based brewery also took home the gold last year for their American-style strong pale ale called Scepter Head IPA.

Across the venue from Draught Works was another notable award image7winner: Jackson, Wyo.’s Snake River Brewing Co. At the 2010 GABF, Snake River received a silver medal for their small-batch brew Rolling Thunder Dortmunder. Derek Beardsley, the brewery’s director of sales, said this traditional lager emulates those found in Dortmund, Germany, and explained why Beer Fest in West is a must-attend event for his company.

“While we may be in Jackson, Yellowstone is our backyard and we love the opportunity to share our beer with everyone,” Beardsley said.

Accompanying libations were pretzels and mustard cheese dip, bison brats topped with sauerkraut, and beer cheese soup. Big Sky bluegrass band Gallatin Grass Project kept the crowd moving before Ennis-based band Fool’s Gold closed down the event with classic rock covers.