What makes it "imperial": Your average hefeweizen packs a bit of a punch, but tends to be a lighter, less alcoholic choice than your other microbrew ventures. Not so with this little ditty. Yes, it's light and smooth. But the Kettlehouse's latest recipe packs a serious punch: 10.5 percent alcohol by volume, which is hard to believe considering how easily the Imperial goes down. "This is the kind of beer that'll kick your ass," says J. Ryan Weingardt, Kettlehouse's assistant taproom manager. "You don't even notice, but you're drinking an extra pint right there."
What it tastes like: The Imperial Hefe is brewed with Goldings hops and Munich malt, but it's the lemon zest that really pleases the nostrils. Kettlehouse threw in about six ounces of the stuff during the boil, then another six ounces after. The resulting beer isn't overwhelmingly fruity like some brews; it teases your senses with a hint of something tasty instead of slapping you upside the head with flavor.
Where you're drinking: The Kettlehouse's original home at 602 Myrtle Street, just off the Hip Strip in downtown Missoula.
When you're drinking it: I lucked out with the Imperial Hefe. It wasn't on tap yet when I dropped by on Black Friday, but Weingardt wrangled a special tasting session in the interest of keeping the Indy's loyal readers informed. It's expected to be available to the general public by Friday, Dec. 3.
Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.