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Montana Brewers Summer Rendezvous at Memorial Park

People enjoy beer at Memorial Park Saturday afternoon during Helena Brewers Summer Rendezvous. The event had 29 breweries and scores of beers to try.

The Montana Brewers Summer Rendezvous brought out over 500 people on Saturday to smell, swish and taste beers from 29 breweries from all over Montana.

Matt Leow, the executive director of the Montana Brewers Association, said that Rendezvous give craft brewers a way to show their wares.

"We put on three [Rendezvous] each year. May is in Bozeman, August, here in Helena and Missoula in September," Leow said.

Leow pointed at a tent where a "beer school" was taking place. "Each class goes through a different style of beer," Leow said. The three classes Saturday were on fruit beers, German-style beers and the now impossible-to-avoid IPA.

Pouring pale ale

A Helena Brewers Rendezvous volunteer pours a Blackfoot Brewery Pale Ale Saturday at Memorial Park.

Sarah Sorensen, part-owner of Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company, said that coming to Rendezvous was a great way to get exposure in a beer-loving state. 

Cabinet Mountain is the only women-owned brewery in the state "and the western-most too," Sorensen adds. She and her partner began the brewery in 2014 as a "Plan B," as Sorensen puts it, a next step in their respective lives. Their Ross Creek Red just won a gold medal at the North American Beer awards, their first national award, something Sorensen is still stoked about.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney found himself at the Rendezvous Saturday. "This is great," Cooney said. "The craft beer industry has grown so much ... it's close to a billion dollar industry."

Cooney said he's not much of an IPA-drinker.

"I prefer browns and darker beers," he said, but in the summer? "A nice light beer is good too."

Michael Garrity is the owner and head brewer of Triple Dog Brewing Company out of Havre.

"This is my favorite event," Garrity said of the Helena Rendezvous. "This one is fun to go to; it has a great atmosphere and great people."

Garrity's been running Triple Dog for the last four and a half years, and his theory of brewing is straightforward. 

"I like to make well-balanced, easy drinking beers," Garrity said. "With no weird flavors!"

He started brewing beer when he was 19, and when he turned 23 decided that maybe turning his hobby into a business wasn't a bad idea.

"My daughter inspired me," he said, and by the time he was 25, Triple Dog was up and running.

Helena breweries had tents at the Rendezvous, including Snow Hop, Lewis and Clark, Blackfoot, Crooked Furrow and Ten Mile Brewing.

Nicholas Balken, a Blackfoot Brewery brewer, said that coming to the event was a plus because "being Helena, everyone knows you and people want to drop by."

He said that the people that came the furthest that he knew of at the event were from Baltimore. "They're my in-laws," he said with a laugh. Balcken thinks that the lack of tokens and unlimited tasting really adds to the event. "Everyone gets as much or as little as they want," he said. "Everyone is fun and having a good time."

This story has been updated to note that Snow Hop Brewery participated in the rendezvous.



Reporter at the Helena Independent Record.

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