Happiest Hour 

Holiday Ale

'Tis the season: Flathead Lake Brewing's Holiday Ale is the ideal beer for when snow's piling up, the fire's crackling, you're wearing that tacky Christmas sweater and picking over the last of Thanksgiving leftovers, and you need a buzz while you're unpacking ornaments and untangling those goddamn Christmas lights.

What it is: Holiday Ale is a medium-bodied, Montana-grown two-row pale, with caramel, chocolate and honey malts plus pumpkin, molasses, orange peel and spices.

"It's like an Oktoberfest," says Flathead Lake Brewing taproom bartender Nathan Roessmann, "but more distinct." It has a deep, reddish-brown color.

"But don't be deceived," says fellow bartender Nicole Bostwick, "it's not as heavy as it looks."

click to enlarge PHOTO BY MATTHEW FRANK

Flathead Lake brewed Holiday Ale last year, too, but that batch had more spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, Bostwick says. This year's version is a bit less of a dessert beer, though it's still sweet, rich and warming. You might be able to justify having another, because its alcohol content dropped from 7.4 percent to 6.6 percent. Perhaps that's enough of a drop to keep you from falling off the ladder as you're stringing lights.

Where to find it: For a limited time at the Flathead Lake Brewing Co. of Missoula's taproom, 424 N. Higgins Avenue, and at its brewery in Woods Bay, five miles south of Big Fork on Highway 35.

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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