Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Harvest Montana Brewfest in Great Falls

Harvest Montana Brewfest
A new brewfest is appearing in Montana, and Great Falls is the host city. Presented by and in conjunction with the Harvest Montana Grain Conference*, the Montana-only Harvest Montana Brewfest will take place on Friday November 21, 2014 at the Best Western Plus Heritage Inn from 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. Only 400 tickets are available for this premiere event. Each ticket is $50 and includes unlimited tastings.

Organizing the brewfest is Evan Bowser, owner of Bowser Brewing Co. The Harvest Montana Brewfest, however, will be quite different than a “typical” Montana brewfest.

“We’re flying in certified beer judges from all around the country to judge Montana’s beers,” says Evan Bowser. “This will eliminate any unintentional biases toward host city breweries, and the beers will be judged based solely on their merits. We’ll award gold, silver, and bronze.”

“I’m also requiring that any Montana brewery that wants their beer judged must send an owner or brewer so the attendees will get to engage with the brewery and their beer more personally,” says Bowser. “This will add value to the ticket price. We’ll be advertising the event in national magazines and up into Canada.”

Bowser has sent out invitations to all Montana’s breweries, and so far he’s received over a dozen positive responses, including from a few breweries that don’t typically pour at in-state brewfests.

“The breweries have told me they appreciate the fact that we’ll have BJCP judges on hand,” says Bowser.

“There will also be many elected state officials at the conference, and we’ve invited all of them to attend the brewfest afterwards,” says Bowser. “This will give them a chance to meet the brewers and craft beer fans, and vice versa, before we enter into another legislative session next year.”

The list of judges brought in for the event (as listed on the event page):

Bill Downs lives in Durango, Colorado. He is a BJCP Certified Beer Judge, home brewer and a Beer Journalist for the Rocky Mountain Brewing News. He also blogs [www. homebrewingnews .com] and is the author of 12 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Homebrewing.

Steve Luke is the Lead Brewer for Elysian Brewing in Seattle, Washington. He runs the experimental brewhouse at the Elysian Fields location. Previously, he was the Head Brewer for Rogue's Issaquah Brewhouse, the Cambridge House Brewpub in Connecticut, and a brewer for Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine. He has judged at the Great American Beer Festival since 2011.

Janet Hinkel has judged the National IPA Championship, the National Imperial IPA Championship, and the Global Warming Open since the inception of each beer competition. Janet is the former and original writer for the Beer Beacon, a snarky and honest tasting column in the Great Lakes Brewing News. While she no longer proselytizes in print, she will tell you how it is whether you want her to or not. Some of Janet’s fans call her the Original Beer Bitch, but it’s not true. She’s the Buffalo Beer Bitch, the East Coast counterpart to the West Coast legend. Janet now lives in Springfield, Oregon, where she refuses to denounce her East Coast beer roots.

Charlie Gottenkieny has been brewing since 1988 and is the only two-time winner of the AHA's Homebrewer of the Year award. He has been part of the Beer Judge Certification Program since 1994 and is a National-level beer judge. He is co-founder of Better Beer Scores, LLC, a webinar-based company that specializes in preparing beer judges for the BJCP exam. Charlie is opening an artisanal brewery in Denver, Colorado, in 2015.

Ron Carlson is a commercial beer judge living in Brooklyn, New York. He represents Pennsylvania's Voodoo Brewery, and has judged the National IPA Challenge and the Global Warming Open international competition since their inception.

Jamie Magee lives in Natick, Massachusetts. His beer journey began in Düsseldorf in 1984. He passionately discovered the newly minted microbrew scene at home, first in Colorado, where he was a journalism student; then in New England, where he worked in the publishing industry. He is a co owner of several Brewing News papers as well as American Brewer. Jamie's beer judging resume includes the the National IPA Championship, the Great International Beer Festival and the Alpha King Challenge.

Jen Schwertmann has been professionally involved in the Craft Beer world for over 20 years, having spent time behind notable beer bars in Denver, Colorado and New York City, before recently settling in Santa Barbara. She has started Jen Schwertman Consulting LLC, in order to help train bars and restaurants in the successful promotion of craft beer. The runner-up for Beer Drinker of the Year, in 2013, Jen is currently working on her BJCP certification.

Bill Metzger is the publisher of the Brewing News papers and owner of the Old First Ward Brewing Company, in Buffalo, New York. He is the founder of the National IPA Challenge and the Global Warming Open competitions. He also coordinates the judging for the Alpha King Challenge. Bill has judged in all of these, as well as over 100 home brew competitions.

*The Inaugural Harvest Montana Grain Conference is co-presented by Montana Farmers Union and the Lake County Community Development Corporation. It will “bring folks together from sectors of the grain industry to expand the grain, pulse, and oilseed economy through collaboration and business development, leading to additional profit retention and job creation in communities across the state.”  

Full disclosure: as a member of the "media," this author has been offered a free media ticket to attend the brewfest if he can/wishes.

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