You’ve slogged through rocky outcroppings, swampy forests, and blisteringly hot meadows to find the perfect campsite nestled near a stream under the shade of a few trees. As the sun sets, what better way to relax than with a cold brew?
While some backpackers traditionally carry whiskey or, ahem, the green stuff (where it’s legal, of course), more and more trekkers opt for craft beer, especially since more and more breweries are canning world class beers.
Backpacking with beer doesn’t mean hauling a sixer; rather, stash a can or two of something big and delicious in your pack. Sure, it’ll add a couple of pounds, but at the end of the day, it’s a great reward. Cool it in snowpack or a cold mountain stream for a few minutes at camp. Better yet, on your first night out, freeze steaks in Ziploc the day before, then pack them next to your beers. When you get to camp, the beer will be cold and the steaks will be ready to grill over an open fire (use common sense in bear territory).
Here are five big beers that will elevate your next backpacking trip.
Longmont, Colorado’s brewery gets big props for being one of the first to can craft beer and it’s still the go-to favorite for a lot of backpackers because its so damn good. At 10.5% ABV, Ten Fidy is a rich stout that packs enough punch to need only one. Bonus—this style doesn’t have to be ice cold to taste great. Just remember, as the can says, “Pack it in, pack it out.”
This limited release barleywine is a perfect accompaniment for a campfire on a chilly mountain evening. It’s big on flavor, with hints of sweet caramel and chewy raisin, and huge on ABV (11.5%). Good things come in small packages—the sturdy cans are only 8.4 ounces, great for those counting weight.
If big malty beers leave you thirsting for hops, reach for a Resin. This 9.1% ABV Double IPA clocks in at more than 100 IBU, blasting you with in-your-face hoppiness. True to its name, it’s packed with resin hops, making it dank and herbal, the perfect pairing for nestling in a pine forest. The cans are slimmer and a bit sturdier than most, so it’s easy to throw a couple into your pack.
Fans of sour beer don’t have to miss out on backpacking beers. While Cantillon probably won’t be canning anytime soon, Michigan’s Brewery Vivant makes an excellent high ABV sour that fits the bill. This 9.8% ABV dark farmhouse ale is laced with hints of ripe pit fruits and dark roasted malts. It’s tart enough to make you pucker up, but not so sour that you’ll be wishing that you packed some Tums.
If you are backpacking in an area away from home, use your trip as an opportunity to try something local. Hit the carry-out before you hit the trail and look for something canned, with a high ABV. But be sure to ask a local for help—no one wants to schlep a drain/pour up the side of a mountain.