Where you’re drinking: The not-quite-bustling confines of Great Burn Brewing on a Monday night. Sun shines through the window. Some guy at the bar is leafing through a magazine article about fly fishing. Another is wearing waders. Yet it’s still chilly outside, there’s snow in Friday’s forecast and more than a few patrons are wearing downy layers. No one seems to know quite what season it is.

What you’re drinking: The weather isn’t the only thing that can’t make up its mind. Great Burn just tapped the Bulge Dark Saison, which tastes like it was made for deep winter, but wants so badly to belong to spring. One server likens the flavor to gingerbread, and yeah, there’s a faint hint of the holidays here, probably due to the brewers’ use of allspice. At the same time, it’s lighter and crisper than most saisons. I’m even tempted to say “zesty,” a word I’ve only used to describe a beer once before. Like us, the Bulge has a foot in two very disparate seasons. Unlike us, it’s willing to be pulled in different directions without complaint.

Bulge Dark Saison

The backstory: If you’re a World War II buff, you’ve probably guessed that the Bulge is a reference to the famous “Battle of the Bulge,” a desperate bid by Germany in December 1944 to split the Allied forces by hammering through Belgium’s Ardennes Forest. The bid failed, becoming Germany’s last major offensive on the Western Front. Great Burn server Derek Hockenbrough helped brew the Bulge. In fact, he says, it comes from one of his own homebrew recipes, a shot at an experimental new style of saison. “It’s German malt meets Belgian yeast,” he says. Hence the name.

Where to get it: You can try the Bulge Dark Saison for $4 a glass at Great Burn Brewing, 2230 McDonald Ave.

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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