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34 brewers from around the state ready for annual Montana Brews - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

34 brewers from around the state ready for annual Montana Brews & BBQ in Billings

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The weather is expected to be sunny and hot on Saturday. (MTN News Photo) The weather is expected to be sunny and hot on Saturday. (MTN News Photo)
Mark Hedin (MTN News Photo) Mark Hedin (MTN News Photo)
All beers will be served in a souvenir glass. (MTN News Photo) All beers will be served in a souvenir glass. (MTN News Photo)
BILLINGS -

Thousands are expected to descend on the MetraPark fairgrounds at the Chieza Plaza for an afternoon of beer tasting, food, and music on Saturday.

In seven years, the popularity of Montana Brews and BBQ has expanded to make the one-day event a summer staple in Billings.

"Let's just say we're not mental geniuses," joked Mark Hedin, show promoter who spearheads the event with his sons Beau and Devon. "Live music, all kegged beer, great food, it doesn't take a real smart person to know that event is going to grow every year."

This year, Hedin added eight more breweries from around the state, totaling 34 to fit all types of tastebuds.

From Libby to Wibaux to Polson to Hamilton, Hedin said Saturday will be the perfect opportunity to kickstart a "beercation."

"They vacation based on breweries in the state. So the neat thing about this is you can drive a few minutes down to Metra lakeside and you can have a 'brewcation' all in one spot," Hedin said.

Craft brewing continues to expand in the state. Hedin says he's never seen a group of people, who are competitors, who love working with each other.

"We like to call them a band of brewers, because they are comrades in this field. They share recipes with each other, they share secrets, they just want everyone to succeed in the process. I have never seen any industry like the craft industry," Hedin said, who also holds the bi-annual Home Improvement Show at the Metra.

The band Downtime will provide the music with a set list of classic rock to enjoy.

Food trucks are also increasing at the event. Hedin said when the event began in 2010, the goal was to provide just barbeque.

Now there is a variety of food to be found along the berm of Chieza Plaza with 13 food trucks.

Montana Brews and BBQ begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 15 and continues throughout the day and evening. 

Hedin suggests you come early as brewers will be showcasing special beer made for the event but in a smaller amount.

"It's going to be beer-drinking weather, because once a specialty beer runs out, you won't be able to get it later," he said.

The Montana Brews and BBQ pairs with the the Breakfast Exchange Club. Proceeds this year will go toward the Family Tree helping the prevention of child abuse.

"It's not only a fun time, it's a worthwhile cause."

The event is free admission. You can purchase a souvenir glass with 10 tokens for $25.

"We love to make Billings our central point for all breweries across the state," Hedin said. "You can actually talk to the head-brewers from the breweries and maybe get some ideas if you're a homebrewer."

Eight-thousand pounds of ice will be on hand to make sure the kegs stay cool throughout the day. 

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