Happiest Hour: Hitting the road for radlers 

The scenario: You and some friends hatch a plan to hit all six Bitterroot Valley breweries in a single day. Great way to soak up the latter days of summer, right? The only hitch is when it came time to roshambo for driving duties, you lost. You've made the most of the situation, sipping a pale ale every couple hours, but the crew is rowdy now and man-oh-man could you use a dose of IPA. The answer arrives as you pull in at Stevensville's Wildwood Brewery.

What you're drinking: Gazing at the menu behind the bar, your eye catches something interesting. A radler. It's right there in chalk: half beer, half lemonade. You think to yourself, "Yeah, twice the taste with half the alcohol? Sign me up." Then the server asks you if you want the Ambitious Lager in your radler or something else. You're stunned. You get to choose the beer? You ask for the Yippee IPA. The server pulls a bottle of Kirkland Organic Lemonade from the fridge and pours some in a pint glass. When the concoction is complete, you take a long, slow pull. Tart and sweet and hoppy. You think you hear the angels singing. Turns out it's just your friends crooning to Taylor Swift as they play cornhole on the front patio. Still...

  • photo by Alex Sakariassen

The backstory: Wildwood owner Jim Lueders says the brewery started offering radlers a couple years back. For sure they did all last summer, he recalls. He scrunches his forehead and can't remember if they did the summer before. People dig that they're mixed fresh right there on the bar, he says. And it's not always lemonade. Sometimes he gets not-from-concentrate Florida grape juice. Sometimes he has a cherry juice reduction syrup that's a revelation. Since Wildwood's brew system is too big to crank out lots of experimental batches, the radlers help Lueders expand the menu. "I'm sure some people are thinking, 'half the alcohol,' especially if they're still planning to exercise after," he says. "We get a lot of cyclists through here."

Where to get it: Wildwood Brewery is east of U.S. Highway 93 in Stevensville, just across from Kootenai Creek Road. It's a tricky one to spot, so drive slow and keep your eyes peeled for the sign and the big white grain tanks. Radlers are $4.

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