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People hitting the slopes on Big Sky Resort’s Thanksgiving opening day were greeted at the base of the resort with good vibes, local DJs and samples of a new MAP Brewing Company beer commemorating the resort’s new lift.

The Swifty Session Pale Ale by MAP brewing is named after that new lift, the Swift Current 6, which the resort boasts as the fastest six-person chairlift on the continent. The resort doesn’t have a hard number yet, but spokesperson Stacie Mesuda said Big Sky estimates thousands of people hit the slopes on the just over 100 open acres of terrain Thursday.

“It was a really high energy opening day,” said Mesuda, who was one of the thousands who rode at the resort Thursday. “I think there were lots of excited skiers ready to get out and take their first turns for the season … the skiing was fabulous thanks to our snowmakers working really hard to make snow in the early season.”

This ski season is the inaugural season for the Swift Current 6 lift, or the “Swifty.”

“We had a line of people waiting for the chairlift to start running at the beginning of the morning to kick off ski season and within about four or five minutes, the lift was able to clear everyone out of the base area,” Mesuda said. “It is noticeably faster while you ride up the mountain.”

The Swift Current 6 is replacing a quad chair lift that had about a 12 minute ride time. The new lift takes only 7 minutes or so. That’s five more minutes that people can get turns in on the mountain — or time spent drinking a Swifty Session Pale Ale, which is only available at the resort and at MAP’s taproom on Manley Road.

The beer is light and easy to drink, said MAP owner Patrick “PK” Kainz, who spent Thanksgiving morning handing out free samples of the brew at Big Sky.

“It’s a little lighter style pale ale, not too hoppy but a good hop profile,” he said.

MAP has had a good relationship with Big Sky for a long time, Kainz said — the brewery has sold beers at the resort’s bars and restaurants for years. So when Big Sky asked Kainz if it would be possible to collaborate on a beer to celebrate the new chairlift opening, he said yes.

“It was a little bit down to the line,” Kainz said. “We kind of put it together in the last month and a half, but we were able to order cans, get them printed up and beer made.”

A portion of sales for each Swifty Session Pale Ale will go to the organization Big Sky Sustainability Network Organization, or Big Sky SNO. According to its website, Big Sky SNO works to identify ways the Big Sky community can advance sustainability initiatives and preserve the beauty of Big Sky.

Normally, MAP prints just the canning date on the bottom of beer cans, Kainz said. But after a relatively snow-less November so far, Kainz and the MAP team are ready to “get the winter fun on.” So, for the print on the bottoms of the Swifty Session Pale Ale, they went for something a little different.

“Instead of the date on the Swifty, we just printed ‘pray for snow,’” he said.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.

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