Happiest Hour: All Souls Ale at Big Sky

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It's Friday and you just want to kick back with a strong ale and get in the holiday mood. If you head down to the Big Sky taproom you can sip on the limited edition All Souls Ale—the subject of this week's Happiest Hour—and consider what a sweet gift good beer can be.

What you’re tasting: All Souls Ale is a limited edition imperial saison. It’s slightly spicy, slightly fruity and very strong at 11% ABV. That’s unusual for a “saison,” which means “season” in French and generally hits 5% ABV. Saisons, by the way, are light beers from French-speaking Belgium that were brewed specifically to refresh farmers when they didn’t have access to water. All Souls may be strong, but it actually maintains a sort of light feel—in case you get thirsty out in those fields.

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Who’s behind it: Members of all Souls Missoula, an alternative Christian church, approached the brewery last summer about crafting the beer. Big Sky owner Bjorn Nabozney says he was surprised to have a church ask about brewing, and even more surprised when the group insisted the beer not seem “too churchy,” so that it appeals to everyone. About 16 members of the church spent several hours helping Big Sky brewers bottle and label the ale.

Why you’re supporting it: Even if you’re not a churchie yourself, consider this: proceeds from sales of All Souls goes to Imagine Missoula—a non-profit that organizes volunteers to help people around town, whether it’s to fix leaks and build fences, help with childcare or run errands for those who need a little neighborly assistance. Plus, who doesn’t like doing community service in the form of drinking beer?

When to get it: Now. According to taproom bartenders, the ale is going fast. Big Sky Brewery ordered a limited 100 cases of the stylish, 750 milliliter bottles, which go for $14 each. There are no plans to make more, though Nabozney says the brewery will definitely team up with All Souls again next year with another recipe.

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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