Happiest Hour: Tap Room Tours 

What you’re doing: Being chauffeured around in a luxury minibus from brewery to brewery—plus, if you pick the right tour, a distillery—and drinking as much as you want without having to worry about how you’ll get home. Tap Room Tours, which starts June 5, offers 11 different routes, each of which stops at four different breweries. The first stop, however, is at your front door, where Tap Room’s bus picks you up. From there, guests are taken for an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the brewing, bottling and/or canning process of one microbrewery. The next two stops are tastings at other breweries or at the Montgomery Distillery. The tour finishes up at a brewery that offers food. There, Tap Room Tours buys pizza, before dropping everyone back off at home or their hotel.

  • Courtesy Tap Room Tours

Where you’re going: Tap Room Tours covers essentially every booze-making operation from Hamilton to Missoula. Participating Missoula breweries are Bayern, Big Sky, Draught Works, the Northside Kettlehouse, Flathead Lake and Tamarack. Great Burn will be added when it opens on Missoula’s south side later this summer. One Saturday a month, Tap Room Tours also visits the Bitterroot with stops at Blacksmith, Bitter Root, Higher Ground, Wildwood and, once it opens, Lolo Peak.

When you’re doing it: Tours start June 5 and will then run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, starting at 1:00 p.m. and ending around 5:30.

Who’s coming with you: Buses can accommodate 12 passengers. If you can get a group of six or more together, Tap Room Tours will give you a 10 percent discount. Private parties can also book the entire bus.

Who’s behind it: Husband and wife Phil and Cate Mason came up with the idea for Tap Room Tours this January, after a winery tour in Walla Walla, Wash., and drew from similar brewery tours in Bend, Ore., and Seattle as they developed their concept. Phil is devoting himself to the business after 35 with the U.S. Forest Service. “I call it ‘repurposing,’” he says, “not ‘retiring.’”

How to make it happen: Reserve a spot by visiting thetaproomtours.com or calling 396-4839. Missoula tours run $69, and the monthly Bitterroot trips are $79.

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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