Happiest Hour: Third annual Garden City Community Brew 

This week: Third annual Garden City Community Brew

The story: For the third year in a row, local breweries and tavern owners are releasing a beer specifically to benefit a community nonprofit. The last two Garden City Community Brews raised almost $15,000 combined, with proceeds going first to the Missoula Food Bank and then the Max Wave. This year the community brew will benefit the Summer Arts and Leadership Camp for homeless and at-risk youth, sponsored by Women’s Opportunity Resource and Development.

The brew: Big Sky head brewer Matt Long is a bit of a clairvoyant. With high temps finally descending on Missoula, he’s cooked up a doozy of a lemon ale as this year’s community brew. Starting with a 5 percent base beer, Long toyed with different levels of lemon juice before hitting on a combo that showcases the lemon without overwhelming the beer’s own flavor profile. “The main takeaway is just the integration of flavors,” Long says. “You still want to be able to taste the beer flavors.” The final product weighs in at a crisp, sessionable 4 percent alcohol-by-volume.

The feel-good effect: The Garden City Community Brew crew has suggested that with each first keg, participating bars donate $100 to WORD’s summer camp. The goal is to raise $9,000 to help fund the camp for roughly two years, and community brew partners have already donated $3,000 to support camp staff salaries in summer 2014. WORD volunteer coordinator Ben Brewster says the lemon ale is “just the beer to have this summer in Missoula,” and adds that without the initial support up front, the camp “wouldn’t even be running” this summer.

The release: The third annual community brew is slated to debut July 10 at the Best of Missoula Party at Downtown ToNight in Caras Park, starting at 5:30. Afterwards, it’ll be available on tap at select bars around town, so keep those eyes open.

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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