Not so long ago — say the late 20th century —when you wanted to wind down from a hard day on the hill with a tall, cool one, you’d generally head straight to base lodge bar, where the options were generic draft and/or bottled beer.
Nowadays, it’s all about microbrews and craft beers, and it seems like there’s a brew pub or tasting room around every bend on the access road.
We’re not complaining, mind you; there’s a lot to be said about diversity and choice when it comes to savoring an IPA or a stout (or a porter or lager or whatever the brew de jour is).
And just like there are seldom any bad days on the hill, you probably won’t go wrong with popping into any local around your favorite ski hills.
Still, there are some breweries and brew pubs that deserve special merit, and the following is a six-pack of such notables.
Alibi Ale Works
Owned and operated by a couple of North Lake Tahoe skiers, Alibi has two venues, the brewery and tap room in Incline, Nev., just down the hill from Diamond Peak resort, and the public house in Truckee, where many skiers and riders from Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl and Northstar come to party in the relatively spacious music hall. Alibi’s English-style porter is not to be missed.
Great Northern Brewing Company
One of the original ski resort-related breweries, Great Northern has been gathering point for Whitefish Mountain Resort skiers and riders for nearly 25 years. Their wonderfully and whimsically titled brews (Lumbersexual Scotch Ale, Snowghost Winter Lager, Ski Socks American Sour, Mad Saison et al) are indicative of how Great Northern has been pushing the envelope with new beer styles over the past few years.
Way up in northern Vermont, close to the border with Quebec and just down the road from Jay Peak resort in the town of Newport, is an operation that prides itself on brewing craft beers with local ingredients, including maple sap, spruce tips and berries, to create a variety of seasonal beers. Kingdom is also environmentally friendly: The mash left over from the brewing process feeds a local herd of Black Angus cattle and the brewery operates on a geo-thermal fermentation cooling system.
Mt. Hood Brewing Company
Small batch, hand-crafted beers are specialty of this brew pub in Government Camp, Ore., which is the central gathering spot for skiers and riders from Timberline, Mount Hood Skibowl and Mount Hood Meadows resorts. And when you pay happy hour prices ($3.50 per pint) during the late afternoon for such limited-edition brews as Ouragon Juniper Saison, Timberline Tucker and Voeden Glacier, you know you’re in the right place.
Noted for referencing the local ski hill (Purgatory) with such brews as Backside Stout and Powder Daze Porter, Steamworks, located in Durango, Colo., is something of a co-op (the employees get a chance to have part ownership in the operation) which generates a delightful, hard-working atmosphere in the brew pub. Also the product’s not too bad — try the Colorado Kolsch.
It’s said that Vermont has the most breweries per capita in the United States, so why not throw another Green Mountain State operation on to the list? This family run brewery and visitor center in Stowe produces IPAs with lots of hops; there are six of them (orange, tropical fruit, pink grapefruit, pine and spice) in the Alchemist’s signature brew, Heady Topper. Another plus: it’s dog friendly.