Summer kick off: Garden City BrewFest

Missoula's longstanding festival on May 5 features 70 beers, plus cider and wine

New & Notable
Garden City BrewFest
Garden City BrewFest offers 70 craft beers, plus wine and ciders.Photo © Tom Aldrich

The 26th annual Garden City BrewFest delivers a first taste of summer in Missoula with 70 different beers from 48 breweries, five ciders and six wines, offered for tasting Saturday, May 5, from noon-8 p.m. in Caras Park. Fifteen beers are from Missoula, 25 are from Montana-based breweries, and 30 come from breweries across America, from Boston to San Diego.

For the first time in its history, Garden City BrewFest will offer five ciders from three different locations, as well as a variety of wines and even mimosas.

The Garden City BrewFest is the largest and longest-standing BrewFest in Montana. Started in 1992, the event was originally called BRIW Fest – an acronym for its creators: Bayern Brewing Company, the Rhinoceros, the Iron Horse and Worden’s Market. The first brewfest in recent Montana history offered speciality beers that were not typically available for purchase.

The event was gifted to the Missoula Downtown Association in 2003 and has since served as a major fundraiser for downtown projects and improvements.

“The offerings for this year’s Garden City BrewFest provide a wide variety of new and traditional beverages to taste, including wines and ciders for those who don’t enjoy beer,” said Ellen Buchanan, planning committee chair. “We have a great line-up of music too.”

The popular event, she adds, “kicks off the summer season in Missoula!”

Entertainment will be provided by three local bands: Milltown Damn opens the festival at noon; Salsa Loca provides a little Cinco de Mayo flare from 3-5 p.m., and Marshall Catch closes festivities from 5:30-8 p.m.

Sponsored by Bayern Brewing Company, Farmers State Bank and nine other businesses, Garden City BrewFest is admission-free for all to enjoy. Those interested in tastings pay $15 for a 7-ounce commemorative glass, wristband, and three tokens. Additional tokens are $1.50 each. Several food trucks will be on hand, and Big Dipper will offer beer-flavored ice cream.

A unique feature is the Garden City Beer Awards, presided over by Missoula’s local brewing club, the Zoo City Zymurgists, who sample and judge each beer and dispense a variety of awards during the event.

The BrewFest also coincides with the first day of the Missoula Farmers’ Market and the Clark Fork Market, which provide a great start to the weekend’s festivities. For more information visit or call 406-543-4238.