Happiest Hour 

Spruce Tip Ale

What you're drinking: The Kettlehouse's Spruce Tip Ale tastes like the smell of a snowy Montana forest. Some spruce tip beers can be overwhelming—as in, "Did I just inhale a Christmas tree?"but this one is mellow enough to encourage a second or third pint while still giving you a blast of spruce.

Why you're drinking it: Drinking the Spruce Tip Ale will help support the Selway-Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation, a nonprofit that works as a steward for places like the River of No Return and other wildlands in Montana and Idaho. Its mission is to connect businesses, individuals, universities, tribes and the Forest Service, and it does trail maintenance, invasive weed eradication, restoration, education and other projects.

How it's made: Kettlehouse brewer Pablo Alvarez partnered with Sockeye Brewing out of Boise, Idaho, to help support the foundation with a spruce tip recipe. "It's a fall-style beer," Alvarez says. "It's kind of malty and it's a little darker than an amber. We ended up using 18 pounds of spruce tips from last harvest season picked by the foundation. I threw all of that into the beer at the end of the boil. It's quite piney."

  • photo courtesy of Kettlehouse Brewery

Historical sidenote on scurvy: Indigenous people of North America used spruce tips in beverages as a source of Vitamin C, and European sailors adopted the practice for fighting scurvy. Spruce tip beer was a popular colonial beverage.

When you're drinking it: The ale was released Nov. 5 at the southside Kettlehouse (602 Myrtle St). A dollar from each pint purchased goes to support work in the Selway-Bitterroot and Frank-Church wilderness areas. It's a limited brew, so get it while you can.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email editor@missoulanews.com.

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