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Happiest Hour: Whiskey-barrel stout at the Northside KettleHouse

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What you’re drinking: It’s hard to say exactly. The liquid in my glass has all the telltale signs of beer. But everything about the first sip says whiskey. Late last week, the Northside KettleHouse released two versions of its new Freezeout Imperial Stout. As a whiskey fan, I opt for a snifter of the barrel-aged batch. KettleHouse brewed it back in February, then aged it six months in whiskey barrels from the Butte-based distillery Headframe Spirits with a November debut in mind. My first thought is how much this will help brace me for the holidays.

What it tastes like: Like I said, whiskey. It even smells vaguely like the empty bottle of McClelland’s Highland that’s been sitting on my coffee table for a week. There’s a distinct dark chocolate flavor too, even a hint of something fruity. Any other subtleties are immediately masked by the wave of warmth spreading down my throat and into my chest. The taste lingers after each pull, and all I want to do is curl up next to a fire with a bowl of pizza and listen to the sound of waves gently lapping at snowdrifts. Oh, damn, this stuff’s 12 percent…

Whiskey-barrel stout at KettleHouse

Where you’re drinking: If you’ve got a strong constitution, or had a big lunch, you can probably get away with a couple snifters at the taproom. If not, Kettlehouse has you covered. The Freezeout Imperial Stout (9.5 percent alcohol by volume) and its whiskey barrel counterpart are available in 22-ounce “bomber” bottles straight from the taproom’s fridge. A bomber of the straight stout goes for $10. For the aged stuff, the price is $13. Both have been selling daily since the Nov. 4 release, but KettleHouse’s stores are ample enough that they should last well into the month.

Where to get it: The Freezeout Imperial Stout and the Barrel-Aged Freezeout are available on tap and in bottles only at the Northside KettleHouse, 313 N. 1st St. W.

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

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