Ales and Trails: Perfect Together

This brew lovers’ dream camping trip lets you sip high-quality suds deep in the California wilderness

May 13, 2015
Outside Magazine
Beer Glass

Blow the froth off a couple after exploring the many lakes of Ansel Adams Wilderness.    Photo: iStock

After a good day hiking, any beer that’s still cold is usually good enough—especially when the day ends at a campsite miles from the trailhead. But Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides (SYMG), a 34-year-old outfitter specializing in the California wilderness, doesn’t think you should settle just because you’re in the backcountry. The company teamed up with the one of its favorite breweries, South Gate Brewing Company (SGBC), to launch a four-night camping trip that takes beer aficionados deep into the Golden State’s Ansel Adams Wilderness, along with a trove of choicy beer. Ales and Trails, as the adventure is named, involves a moderate amount of day hiking, plush camping, and a brewmaster who pairs gourmet food with craft beer. 

How It Works

On day one, you hike six miles from the trailhead to a gin-clear lake where you set up camp. By evening, the SGBC brewmaster brings out handcrafted brews—including one made specifically for this trip, and then you eat a gourmet meal (SYMG is known for its quality cooking) that’s been paired specifically to the flavor of that evenings suds. On one of the nights, you’ll be downing (and potentially naming) a brew that SGBC will release this fall.

Afterward, you mellow out around the campfire on comfy chairs before crashing out on sleeping pads in comfy tents. 

S12 SYMG Iron Lake Trail
Iron Lake Trail in Ansel Adams Wilderness.   Photo: Ales and Trails

“The theme of the trip is beer, from start to finish,” says Colby Brokvist, senior backcountry guide for SYMG, but this isn’t the kind of trip for the beer-bellied. For example, on day four, you have the option of summiting a 10,000-foot peak on the border of Yosemite National Park. SYMG says you should be in good athletic shape and even recommends a few go-rounds on hilly, rocky trails with a daypack in the weeks before you head out.

The trip is supported western-style with a mule team that packs everything into camp, including all gear and custom-made bear-proof panniers built to carry coolers. “That translates to daypack-only hiking, and cold beer and fresh ingredients for our meals at camp,” says Brokvist.

More Information

Duration: Five days/four nights (four days/three nights in the backcountry)
Group Size: Three to 12 participants, plus two mountain guides and a brewmaster from South Gate Brewery
Trip Difficulty: Moderate 
Price: $1,495 per person. Guests are responsible for travel to and from Oakhurst, California.
2015 Trip Dates: July 15–19

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