Happiest Hour: The Shandygaff 

We know the temp's supposed to dip this weekend. But all this recent sun has us jumping the gun a bit on spring-centric, lip-smacking drinks.

This week: The Shandygaff

The what?: Maybe you’ve noted those summer six-packs of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy popping up at parties, or maybe you’ve just dabbled in at-home mixology. A shandygaff—or shandy—is beer mixed with some tasty nonalcoholic companion. You might call it beer-adjacent, something that makes the summer heat all the more bearable, or takes the edge off an otherwise high-octane brew, or adds a bit of needed flavor to a cheap domestic like Budweiser or PBR. It’s definitely worth a try as Missoula’s thermostat starts cranking up.

Name your poison: Some drinkers prefer to cut a light beer with one of the more common shandygaff ingredients: lemonade. Others, namely folks in Iowa, throw together sour ale with cider, a version better known as a Snakebite. If you’ve heard of the orange-juice-based Brass Monkey, or just know there’s a Beastie Boys song by that name, that’s a shandy too. Lemon-lime soda, sparkling water, gooseberry cordial—people across the globe will mix anything with beer.

An Indy take: In an effort to further research Missoula’s shandygaff potential, and perhaps shorten an otherwise lengthy afternoon, the Indy decided to test a concoction of its own. Call it the Indygaff, if you must. We poured a half-bottle of Reed’s ginger beer over a half-pint of Kettlehouse’s Fresh Bongwater Pale Ale. Instant winner. Sweet, slightly hoppy, with a hint of spice on the aftertaste—it’s what every drinker craves when basking in those first post-winter rays.

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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