Happiest Hour: Trip 15 and "collabeeration"

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What it is: A buckwheat Belgian style ale brewed with dates, dandelion and buckwheat. This small-batch brew comes from “an artisanal collaboration” between New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., and Seattle’s Elysian Brewing. It’s the 15th brew to come from what the breweries refer to as The Trip Series.

No, hold on. It’s actually a “collabeeration”: You probably already know New Belgium, brewer of such favorites as Fat Tire, Sunshine Wheat and Ranger IPA, and host of the traveling Tour de Fat and annual Clips Beer & Film Tour. (The latter returns to Missoula July 19.) Elysian opened its first Seattle brewpub in 1996, began bottling in 2001 and commenced, as the company puts it, “collabeerating” with New Belgium in 2008. New Belgium explains that, by joining forces with Elysian, “we have the ability to increase efficiency, encourage creative experimentation, and take a trip into the future of American craft brewing.”

How Trip 15 tastes: Dangerously smooth and lacking, for better or worse, the overpowering flavor of most specialty brews. The dates and dandelion give it a sweetness with a creamy Belgian stout-like finish. In other words, even at 7.5 percent ABV, you can easily have more than one.

Where to find it: It’s only available in 22-ounce bottles in select Northwest states. I scored mine at Good Food Store.

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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