Happiest Hour: Imperial Red Lager 


The backstory: It all started last year when the Missoula Tavern Association and local brewers at Bayern, Big Sky, Draught Works and Kettlehouse decided to tickle Missoula’s palate and raise money for local causes at the same time. Twice a year the Garden City Community Brew torch is passed and the chosen brewmeister rolls out something new. Proceeds from the new brew’s sales are donated to a local cause. This batch’s proceeds benefit the MaxWave.

What you’re getting: An Imperial Red Lager crafted by Bayern. With a lingering, silky head and a nice bronze body, you’d easily mistake this for an amber ale if you didn’t know better.

What you’re tasting: Subtlety. Staying true to lager form, the hops are subdued and mainly contribute to this beer’s slightly fruity aroma. As with any good hybrid, this beer brings together the best of two worlds. On one hand you’re getting the caramel-nuttiness of a red ale, but without the hefty mouthfeel that it usually comes with. On the other, you’re getting the light disposition of a lager and losing the metallic or bitter edges that linger in the aftertaste. It’s a great combination with enough alcohol to give you the warm-fuzzies after one glass.

What you’re thinking: This is a beer that warrants another round. It’s kind of like your friend’s Labradoodle—it’s definitely a dog, but there’s clearly two different things going on and it’s not clear which one stands out more. Sure, the beer’s labeled as a lager, but so much about it says ale. Better have another while you think about it.

Where to get it: Look for it at any Missoula Tavern Association bar; we had ours at Tamarack. Note that it is not available in Bayern’s taproom.

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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