Happiest Hour 

Big Sky Brewing Company

Ambiance: The smell of wort, a sweet soupy liquid produced during the brewing process, fills Big Sky's Tasting Room. Stevie Wonder croons on the radio above conversations shared among locals and travelers who sample light and dark brews at Big Sky's smooth bar.

Who you're drinking with: A woman buying beer and a small pink jumpsuit (the brewery sells an array of stylish "beer gear"), two men from Boston in the middle of an epic road trip and Nathan Noble from Polson. Noble's sampling Slow Elk Oatmeal Stout before catching a plane at the airport, which is nearby. Big Sky Brewing "is a lot better than the bar at the airport," he says.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JESSICA MAYRER

What you're drinking: Moose Drool Brown Ale, Scape Goat Pale Ale, Slow Elk Oatmeal Stout and Powder Hound Winter Ale. We grew giddy when we learned that Big Sky rolled out "Super Goat" two weeks ago. An unfiltered dry-hopped version of the brewery's Scape Goat Pale Ale, Super Goat is made with hops grown in the Nine Mile Valley, at the Clark Fork River Vineyard. Super Goat takes Scape Goat's floral bitterness to another flavor level. Alas, the three kegs and 30 cases Big Sky brewed to sell in its tasting room had been drained by the time we got there. But for those still hankering for a taste of Super Goat, there's hope: Big Sky is selling it in stores as part of its limited release Montana series. If you're quick about it, you can probably find a six-pack at your local grocery store.

How to find it: Big Sky Brewing Co. is located at 5417 Trumpeter Way, just off Expressway Boulevard, about six miles west of Downtown Missoula.

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