Happiest Hour 

Flathead Lake Brewing Company of Missoula

News bulletin: Make way, Missoulians, there's a new brewing company in town bringing some diversity to the local beer scene. The Woods Bay-based Flathead Lake Brewing Company (FLBC) opened its N. Higgins Avenue location last Tuesday, showing off a snazzy and spacious taproom and the brewery's collection of award-winning beers.

Atmosphere: Remember the old music venue The Loft? Well, FLBC completely gutted it and built one of the nicest bars in town. The bar itself stretches nearly the length of the space and there are plenty of tables. Two large flat screen TVs bookend the room, with two smaller ones above the bar for those sitting belly-up.

What to drink: This time of year, start out with the Holiday Ale, a delicious Montana-grown two-row pale with caramel, chocolate and honey malts blended with "holiday spicing." Other notables: Espresso Porter, which was described by a first-timer on a recent evening as "the best coffee-flavored beverage I've ever had," and IPA 2, which boasts an alcohol content of 8.9 percent. Hungry? Order up a pulled-pork sandwich or the local beef burger.

Stay late: Since FLBC brews off premises, it doesn't have to close at 8 p.m., as is the case with Big Sky, Kettlehouse and Bayern. The taproom's open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, and 11 p.m. otherwise (it's closed on Mondays). And when you head out, take a growler with you. Refills cost $14 ($18 for the IPA 2). Subtract $2 on Thursdays.

How to find it: FLBC is located upstairs at 424 N. Higgins Avenue in Missoula, adjacent Charlie B's.

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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