Happiest Hour: Higherground Brewing Company 

When it's raining in the valley, head for Higherground.

New brew: Montana’s newest microbrewery, Higherground Brewing Company, in Hamilton, opened Dec. 19. After two weeks, brewery co-owners Jasper Miller and Fenn Nelson say they can barely keep up with Bitterrooters’ thirst for local beer. “We just unlocked the doors and they flooded in,” Miller says.

Claim to fame: Miller and Nelson, lifelong friends who grew up in Hamilton and graduated from the University of Montana in 2010, are both 24, making them the youngest brewers in the state, and, they figure, among the youngest in the country.

What you’re drinking: The chalkboard above the bar lists an IPA, Irish red, stout, scotch ale, Belgian white, hefeweizen and a crystal ale. You opt for the crystal ale, a light, refreshing beer that’s been the most popular so far, Miller says. “A lot of other breweries over-flavor you, and I wanted something neutral in flavor and still drinkable.” Plus, it goes great with…

What you’re eating: Simple, tasty wood-fired pizza. The kitchen also serves soups and salads.

Where to find it: 518 North First Street in Hamilton, about an hour south of Missoula. Open 11-8 Tuesday through Saturday; 11-6 on Sunday.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail editor@missoulanews.com.

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