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Happiest Hour: Missoula Black & Tan



About a month ago, beer enthusiast Rod Austin was home barbecuing with his family. Two of his favorite local beers, the KettleHouse’s Cold Smoke Scotch Ale and Big Sky’s Summer Honey, were in front of him. The Cold Smoke he’d often found too dark, especially with barbecue. The Summer Honey is light, both in flavor and alcohol content. He thought, “What the hay, why not mix ’em?”

He loved it. So much so that he hasn’t had one of the beers by itself since. On the Grizzly Growler blog he called it “Quite possibly the best beer I’ve ever experienced.” He’s been going to bars around town and spreading the word. He says nine samplers out of 10 approve. The only disagreement is what to call the blend.

Austin thinks “Cold Honey” is a good name. But he says folks at The Central in downtown Missoula seemed to prefer “Summer Smoke.” Others like “Missoula Black and Tan.” And Austin can’t help but plug “Austin Ale.” Regardless, he thinks this concoction has legs.

He says the two beers don’t separate like a typical black and tan, at least not quickly; he hasn’t waited long enough before drinking one to see. “But I think that’s what makes it so great—that they don’t separate, and the two mix in such a way that is harmoniously delicious.”

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

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