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Happiest Hour: Great Burn Brewing



Why you’re here: To celebrate Missoula’s newest brewery. While there’s no shortage of Garden City alehouses, up until last week the city’s Southside was conspicuously lacking. Great Burn’s Greg Howard says locals in the days leading up to Great Burn’s Aug. 29 soft opening were clearly eager to check it out. “The phone was ringing off the hook,” Howard says. Those crowds continued during Labor Day Weekend.

Ambience: Photographs of fires hang on Great Burn’s orange-colored walls, fulfilling the alehouse’s fiery theme. Outside, a patio dotted with picnic tables invites long sessions in the mid-afternoon sun.

Meet the brewer: Hours before Great Burn officially opened, Mike Howard, Greg’s brother, was still recovering from a party Great Burn threw for its supporters the night prior and joking with colleagues that he’s not even clear about Great Burn’s hours of operation. Don’t let the laid-back demeanor fool you. Mike’s resume includes stints at California’s Stone Brewing Company and several local breweries, including Kettlehouse and Big Sky. He worked as the first head brewer at Blacksmith in Stevensville before helping to launch Great Burn.

What you’re drinking: An eclectic selection of ales ranging from the relatively mild Church Picnic Cream Ale, at 5.2-percent alcohol by volume, to the heftier Smoke Chaser Porter, which is made with smoked peat malt and roasted malted barley to deliver a bit of a chocolaty taste. Hops lovers, meanwhile, will be hard pressed to stick to just one Great Burn offering. There’s the Double IPA, which is delightfully bitter with a hefty dose of English malt that conveys a smooth and full flavor. The comparably light Citra IPA goes down easily. Not to be outdone, there’s the Back Burn IPA made with dark malts and New Zealand hops and coming in at 7.5 percent ABV; it’s so delicious that it’s tough to have just one.
Worth noting: Great Burn also makes its own root beer.

How to find it: 2230 McDonald Avenue, off Brooks Street, behind Jakers.

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

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