Maybe it’s because skiing originated in Europe, where no one bats an eye at uncorking chardonnay at 10 a.m. Maybe it’s because thrill seekers tend to be booze lovers. Most likely, it’s because spending all day on the mountain makes you so damn thirsty. Whatever the reason, drinking and skiing have always been a match. Around the country, brewers are taking advantage of this symbiosis, crafting beers that pay homage to beloved local runs, mountains, and chairlifts. Here are our favorite interpretations.
Little Mo’, Elevation Beer Company
Named for the brewer’s favorite run on Monarch Mountain Ski Area in Salida, Colorado, this 6 percent ABV porter has aromas of chocolate and coffee, floral hop notes, and just enough sweet malt. Elevation even uses green, blue, and black symbols to categorize its brews. The green beers have the lowest ABV, while the double black beers will knock you on your backside. The brews are available year-round, but they seem to taste best on snow days.
Red Chair NWPA, Deschutes Brewery
The label on this NWPA (that’s a Northwest pale ale—essentially a chilled-out IPA) makes the beer’s connection to the ski world clear. It depicts the Red Chair lift, built in 1965 on Mount Bachelor in Oregon. This may be an “IPA light,” but hops are still the star of the show. Made with Cascade and Centennial hops, the brew is 60 IBU and 6.2 percent alcohol. It’s available January through April.
Cloudchaser IPA, 10 Barrel Brewing Company
While Red Chair celebrates the classic, this brew celebrates the new. Cloudchaser is named for Mount Bachelor’s newest lift, which adds 635 lift-served acres to the ski area. Although this is a single-hop IPA from the Pacific Northwest, it’s somewhat tamer than the brewery’s other IPA offerings. Made with Comet hops and containing 6.5 percent ABV, this is a beer you can drink more than one of without needing ski patrol to haul you home. To taste Cloudchaser, though, you might have to go check out that new lift in person—it’s available only at 10 Barrel’s taproom and Mount Bachelor eateries.
Patroller Porter, Beech Mountain Brewing Company
What happens when a ski resort opens an on-property brewery? You get a whole lineup of beers with great ski-related names. Plus, this is western North Carolina, the best spot for beer on the East Coast. (Sorry, Brooklyn.) Patroller Porter, a stout with rich coffee and toasty malt flavors, is our favorite of Beech Mountain’s offerings. We trust that the members of Beech Mountain’s ski patrol wait until after hours to drink their namesake pints. The beers are available on-site by the pint or growler.
Face Down Brown, Telluride Brewing Company
In what is perhaps the world’s most relatable beer can, Face Down Brown celebrates the glory of a good yard sale. But there’s way more to this brew than its clever marketing. The winner of two Great American Beer Festival awards, in 2012 and 2014, and one World Beer Cup medal in 2012, this a perfectly balanced brown ale that pairs well with hearty après fare like stew and steak. It’s also available year-round.
Out of Bounds Stout, Avery Brewing Company
Made with five types of malt and a heftier dose of hops than most porters, this stout from Boulder-based Avery Brewing Company makes its own tracks. Aromas of toasted nuts and coffee make it feel almost nourishing, while a dry finish keeps it from veering into cloyingly sweet territory. It’s available year-round and nationwide.
High Camp, Bale Breaker Brewing Company
This imperial rye IPA, available in winter, is named for the local ski lodge at White Pass Ski Area in Washington, and it may be the most unique beer in this lineup. Rye and chocolate malt meet a generous helping of Centennial and Mosaic hops in a brew that’s 7.3 percent ABV and has an IBU of 80.
Breaking Trail, Park City Brewery
Nobody could blame you for sticking a few cans of this 4 percent session ale in your pack before a day of skinning. It’s crisp and smooth and has just the right amount of hoppy goodness. It’s currently available throughout Utah.