Get Your (Bar) Game on in Missoula

By RYAN NEWHOUSE

This week, I went to the Union Club for a meet-up of professionals who love to write and play outside as much as I do.

It had been a while since I was last at the Union Club, but what I was reminded of is that it’s a great place to play, especially when it’s cold and dark outside on these winter nights.

So this week I’ve put together a very small list of bars and other places you can go in Missoula to have a drink and play games with your friends.

At the Union Club (whose bartender, Janie, was just featured in the Missoula Independent’s top bartenders article), not only can you get cheap pitchers of PBR and a plate of peanuts, you’ve got access to a couple nice pool tables, a pair of dartboards, a bean bag toss game, and (my favorite) table tennis.

With its open ambience and easy-going regulars, the Union Club is that bar you can go to and actually have a conversation with your friends or date without having to shout or rub denim cheeks with a dozen strangers to get to the bar.

But perhaps you’re looking for something a little more active. If so, I like to head down to Westside Lanes for a few games of try-not-to-embarrass-myself bowling. Of course, if you want to work out your vocal chords, the lounge and casino at Westside Lanes offers Karaoke three nights a week. But I’m not that brave. I’m there to bowl and have a couple of drinks, which are brought to your lane by the bar’s friendly staff. The bar has a dozen beers on tap, four of them devoted to local brews.

The younger folks I see at Westside are often playing a game of pool or stuffing quarters into the arcade games. In the summer, I usually hit up the 9-hole mini golf and batting cages in back.

If I’m in the mood to play something a little more regal, I’ll either hit up the Rhino or Tamarack Brewing Co. for a game of shuffleboard. I love a good game of bocce on a summer lawn, so shuffleboard suits me well in the winter, and both the Rhino and Tamarack have nice shuffleboards. I’d probably take up curling if I didn’t think I’d break something valuable on my body, but I think I’ll stick with pushing pucks while holding onto a pint of Coldsmoke for now.

I know this list is far from comprehensive, so I would like to hear from you: Where’s your favorite hangout where you can play games and have a drink?

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Thirsty for more? Missoula’s beverage expert, Ryan Newhouse, has plenty on tap: The Black Star Beer Barter Returns to WhitefishBeer Brings Jobs to Montana, and The Best Bars for Celebrating a Birthday.

Looking for a local bar or pub? Check out our Missoula Restaurants and Dining and Missoula Nightlife sections.

   Visit the Drink It Missoulaarchive.

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Ryan Newhouse knows good craft beer.

Ryan Newhouse has lived in Missoula since 2002 and has tipped his glass in most of the town’s establishments. He is (in no particular order) a full-time writer, husband, and parent, and a part-time zymurgist. He makes a mean hard cider and pairs his cocktails with dishes from his blog, Cooked Animals: Recipes for Wild Game.