What you’re drinking: It’s Monday night and you’re at that familiar old haunt, the Union Club, and you notice, not for the first time, the list of nightly drink specials. Tonight is $3 microbrews night, so you check the taps and settle on a nice Shadow Caster Amber from Draught Works. Why? Well, for starters, all this sunshine and the buzz about skwalas starting to show up on riverbanks has you thinking about fly fishing. But there’s another reason.

The competition: Hoops fans are currently in the throes of March Madness. And in honor of that annual collegiate craze, the statewide content-sharing website Montana Mint launched a bracket-style brewery contest on March 12. The first round consisted of 60 Montana breweries from 44 towns, and according to a Montana Mint spokesperson, more than 1,600 ballots were cast through the website alone. Now it’s down to the Sweet 16, and Missoula is dominating the court with Bayern, Big Sky, KettleHouse and Draught Works still in the running.

beer madness

The backstory: Montana Mint ran similar contests in 2015 and 2016 focused on pizza joints. With so many communities across the state boasting at least one brewery these days, the site opted to switch things up and go with beer this year. Voting on the Sweet 16 runs through March 25, followed by a vote on the Final Four through April 1. The champion will be announced on April 2. While Montana Mint is keeping the first-place prize a secret until then, past winners of the pizza wars have received trophies.

How to get in on the action: There’s still time to cast a ballot for the Final Four. To do so, head over to montana-mint.com or vote via Twitter @montana_mint. Then go get a pint and brag like you picked Michigan.

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

Staff Reporter

Alex Sakariassen began working at the Indy in early 2009. He primarily reports on state politics, the environment and the craft beer industry. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Choteau Acantha and Britain’s Brewery History Journal.

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