Beer lovers, rejoice.
Winter BrewFest is back for a second year and will offer 36 beer taps from which to sample.
Hosted by the Missoula Downtown Association, the Winter BrewFest will kick off Saturday at 2 p.m. in the former Safeway grocery store building at 610 W. Broadway.
It's a second coming for the fundraiser, held last year in the Historic Missoula Mercantile. More than 4,000 people attended the 2011 Winter BrewFest, which raised thousands of dollars to help build the permanent stage at Caras Park.
Even with the success of last year's event, "we didn't anticipate we could do a second event," said Linda McCarthy, director of the Missoula Downtown Association.
But MDA board member Diane Lanning of St. Patrick Hospital brought the idea of using the old grocery store space to McCarthy.
St. Patrick Hospital owns the building and has donated the space to the event. The space is currently used as storage and miscellaneous work space for the hospital. During the winter, the Missoula Mavericks American Legion baseball team practices there.
But on Saturday, kegs from 30 breweries will roll into the old grocery store.
"We are just so lucky we have such wonderful choices for beer. A large portion of it is brewed in the state, a good majority in the city," McCarthy said.
Thirty of the 36 beers featured are brewed in Montana, and 15 come from Missoula-area breweries. The oldest brewery in the state - Bayern Brewing - and Missoula's youngest brewery - Draught Works - will have beers at the fest. Attendees will also be able to special order All Souls Ale, a specialty beer brewed by Big Sky Brewing. Proceeds from All Souls Ale sales go to help the community service nonprofit Imagine Missoula.
As Missoulians taste the beers, they can weigh in on the experience via the social network Twitter.
Local beer bloggers Ryan Newhouse and Alan McCormick are promoting the Twitter hashtag #mslabrewfest to get an online conversation started about the event.
"We want to create a fun dialogue through social media, so it's kind of a ‘tweet what you drink' thing," said Newhouse, who recently started the blog MontanaBeerFinder.com. "Alan and I will be tweeting and looking at tweets that come through."
McCormick writes the Growler Fills blog at growlerfills.blogspot.com.
The pair will choose the "best tweet" from the event Sunday and the winner will be awarded at $25 MDA gift card. They will also put up Twitter statistics, such as most mentioned beer and brewery, on their blogs.
"Live tweeting is not something new, but I think it's just another fun element. People can go there and be part of a bigger conversation. Or, people can follow it even if they can't be at the festival," Newhouse said. "We're not sure what the ‘best tweet' entails, but we're encouraging people to make it fun and funny."
St. Pat's, the MDA and the Missoula Business Improvement District pitched in to get the expansive space ready to host the BrewFest.
"It's a large open space, with a cavernous, curved feeling to it," McCarthy said. "It will probably be pretty loud. All of the sounds equipment from Caras Park will be there."
Local band Cash for Junkers will play from 2 to 5 p.m, then another local favorite, Tom Catmull and the Clerics, will play from 5 to 8 p.m. The event is sponsored by KettleHouse Brewing and All Souls Missoula.
Thomas Cuisine Management, the food vendor for both Missoula hospitals, will bring a teams from Community Medical Center and St. Pat's. The Community team will serve up a Cajun alligator and beignets with jalapeno raspberry sauce. The team from St. Pat's will feature Montana-made bratwurst soaked in KettleHouse's Cold Smoke Scotch Ale and served on a Worden's Market deli roll. MacKenzie River Pizza and El Cazador will also be serving food.
Money raised will go to fund various Missoula Downtown Association projects and events.
Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at email@example.com.