Kevin Moriarty

(Missoula Current) Highlander Beer in Missoula recently added a third beer to its flagship line of beers, The Hatch IPA, and the company plans to expand its footprint into Idaho in the coming months.

For one of Missoula's many breweries, it marks a big step forward.

“Hazy IPA’s have been all the rage for the past five years,” said Eric Wallace, director of sales for Highlander Beer. “People want options.”

Wallace described the new beer as a West Coast-style IPA, slightly bitter on the front end, but still clean and crisp.

Wallace said the process for creating a new brew is more of an art than a science. All IPA’s are made with 4 key ingredients – water, malt, yeast and hops. To give an IPA its unique taste, carefully selected hops are added near the end of the brewing process.

The hops for the Hatch IPA come from the Yakima Valley in Washington. The region is one of the top producers of hops in the world and every year about 75% of the hop crop in the US comes from the Yakima Valley.

Wallace believes that when it comes to making a good beer, the process has to be done right and the flavor should make sense to the pallet.

“For me, a beer has to be technically correct.” said Wallace. “You don’t need to throw in a bunch of nonsense and make a milkshake IPA.”

To produce the Hatch IPA on a large scale has taken months of preparation, from creating labels for cans to meeting with distributors. Wallace said the Hatch IPA has been gaining popularity since its release. He thinks sales will line up with Highlanders other two top-selling beers, including Stange Haze and Pocket Cowboy.

Currently, Highlander Beer is sold only in Montana, but a second location is planned to open in Salmon, Idaho that includes a production facility, taproom and brewery.

“We’ll be at grocery stores, bars and taprooms in Idaho starting in January,” said Wallace.