Happiest Hour 

Big Sky's new Powder Hound

What's new: After five years of sticking to the tried-and-true formula, Big Sky Brewery has changed its recipe for Powder Hound. The new brew is lighter and much more bitter, with a blend that includes—if you want to get geeky about it—Hallertau, Palisade and Amarillo hops. Also, it's much stronger now, with a 7.2 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV), up from its former 6.2 percent.

Why the change: Taproom ale slinger Alix Jennings says the new recipe adds some variety to the otherwise unchanging lineup of beer recipes, which includes Moose Drool, Scapegoat and the IPA. "We thought it would be fun to have something new for the winter," she says.

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Who you're drinking it with: Powder Hound has its biggest fans in the winter outdoor community, just by name alone. The former recipe was a darker amber picked up most often by a drinking base of skiers and snowboarders. Jennings says the lighter recipe might broaden its appeal to the average bar crowd, since light sells better to the mainstream. But don't worry, the new recipe hasn't gone all soft and summery. Despite being light, it still packs a punch.

When to get it: Normally growlers are $6, but on Tuesdays you can get $5 growlers at the brewery. Don't lag, though. On a recent Tuesday night the blue and silver warehouse taproom was mobbed with a herd of growler owners and Jennings went through a keg of Powder Hound in 45 minutes. "We've been going through it like crazy," she says. "The other night it rivaled the IPA, which is usually the taproom favorite."

In addition to the taproom, the new recipe is also available in bottles and cans at local retailers.

How to find the taproom: Near the airport, at 5417 Trumpeter Way.

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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