Happiest Hour 

Blacksmith Brewing Company

What it is: A gorgeous brewery situated rather inexplicably in Stevensville's sleepy downtown. Eric Hayes and Pamela Kaye converted the historic brick building—it's been a buggy shop and dry cleaner, among other things, since it was first built in 1907—into a 3,600-square-foot operation. They opened in 2008.

Atmosphere: Spacious, clean and family friendly. Hayes and Kaye didn't seem to spare any expense in putting the joint together. For instance, the establishment's name is branded into the porcelain sink of the cleanest men's bathroom of any taproom we've ever seen.

What you're drinking: We sampled the Brickhouse Blonde (a hefeweizen), Montana Amber and Pulaski Porter. All were fine, but struggled to stand out.

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What did stand out: The Barrel-aged Barleywine, without question. According to brewmaster Mike Howard, this seasonal brew, served in a snifter, ages for at least eight months in bourbon barrels before reaching the tap. Be warned, though: Once it runs out, it's out until next year.

What we'll try next time: Howard, who's worked at the brewery since it opened, recommends Blacksmith's Cutthroat IPA. "I think our hoppier beers are our best," he says. The blonde, however, is the top seller.

Best time to hit the taproom: Live music tends to draw a crowd, usually on Friday evenings. We caught a set by Missoula bluesologists Mudslide Charley on a recent Saturday, and Tom Catmull and the Clerics play there often. Check blacksmithbrewing.com for a full schedule.

Where to find it: 114 Main Street in downtown Stevensville.

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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