Six must-try beers at the Garden City BrewFest

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Saturday marks Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby and, locally at Caras Park, the 20th anniversary Garden City BrewFest. In other words, you may have trouble deciding on today's drink of choice from your favorite margarita, a fresh mint julep, or any of the 60-plus beers available downtown from noon to 8 p.m.

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No worries, friend. We're here to help, at least when it comes to all those beers. Here are six purely subjective but thoughtfully selected brews that jumped off the page (you may have noticed the event's program in this week's Indy). We hope they'll also soon be poured into our taster glass.

1. Bayern's Wooden Barrel-aged Maibock, 6.5% ABV
Bayern describes this as "the typical Bavarian spring-opener with lots of body and more." We're sold on pretty much any beverage that matures in a barrel, except maybe milk. That'd be gross.

2. Big Sky's Anniversary Dortmunder Export Lager, 5.2%
This special reserve was made in honor of the BrewFest's 20th anniversary. Who knows when we'll have another chance to try it?

3. Rogue Ale's Chateau Rogue OREgasmic, 6.0%
This description intrigues beyond the whole "orgasmic" thing. It's a pale ale brewed with 100% Oregon ingredients, including First Growth Oregon hops and malt grown on Rogue's own micro hopyard and barley farm. Not a Montana brew, but something we can easily support.

4. Kettlehouse's Barrel-Aged Double Haul, 7.5%
Again, the barrel thing is key, especially when you consider the dangerous combination of putting the already delicious IPA in a Dry Fly Distillery whiskey barrel. Kettlehouse describes it as "a bit like having a pint of IPA with a Whiskey Back." This one will go fast.

5. Flathead Lake's Dirty Ginger Ale, 8.6%
What is this? Flathead Lake says they "take one Belgian Golden Strong Ale, add color and a subtle smooth flavor from de-bittered black malt, fresh ginger, and lemongrass." The result is a flavor that includes "ginger and alcohol warming, lemongrass tartness, fruity and fun."

6. Zoo City Zymurgists' Belgian Dark Strong Ale, N/A
This year's community brew winner comes courtesy of Rick Dahlen. We haven't tried it yet, but year after year the winning selection from Missoula's local beer enthusiast group is jaw-droppingly good. Thank goodness it'll be available in the Big Sky taproom beyond today's event.

If you're interested in tasting a few of these craft brews, the Garden City BrewFest runs $10 for a tasting glass and two drink tokens. Additional tokens cost $1. Things kick off at noon and end at 8, but get there early for the best selection. Music will be provided by Russ Nasset and the Revelators, Sick Kids XOXO, and Lil' Smokies. Oh, and if you come by the Indy's tent, I'll round things out by telling you how to make a dirty margarita and my stone-cold-lock pick for the Derby. Salut!

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