Happiest Hour: Hops and History 

What you’re doing: Learning about the Bitterroot Valley’s drinking history through photographs of local bars and soda fountains during this Aug. 3 Ravalli County Museum fundraiser at Bitter Root Brewing in Hamilton. The museum will chronicle friendly poker games, rowdy barroom encounters and pleasant ice cream socials in a series of 100-year-old photos that event organizer Steffani Hakes dug up from museum archives.

Some of the iconic Hamilton establishments featured in the presentation include the Brunswick Pool Hall and Kendall Drug Store. Hakes says Kendall Drug Store was a popular gathering spot decades ago for local teenagers who enjoyed the soda fountain’s homemade ice cream. Kendall occupied a structure at 170 S. Second St. that was designed by architect A.J. Gibson and erected in 1909. The building still stands today.

Why you’re here: $1 of every Bitter Root pint sold on Aug. 3 will benefit the Ravalli County Museum. Hakes says the museum generates much of its funding through events like this one.

What you’re drinking: Bitter Root Session Pale Ale. It’s light and hoppy, yet with a 4.9 percent ABV, it’s perfect for a full evening of soaking up history.


Some extra color: Hakes is interning with the museum while earning an associate’s degree from the Bitterroot College. Aiming to bring a modern take to the old photos, she added splashes of color to the historic images. In the 1933 picture titled “Cheers,” for instance, once sepia-toned dresses worn by smiling young ladies holding drinks are now pastel.

How to find it: Bitter Root Brewing is located at 101 Marcus Street in downtown Hamilton. Hops and History starts at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3, and runs until 8.

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

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