The Best Ski Town Brewpubs
The pinnacle of beer at America's elite ski destinations
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There is no ritual more central to skiing than après. The proper end to any day on the slopes is to rally up the gang and recount the day’s triumphs and wipeouts over a heaping plate of nachos and a drink of choice—you’ve earned the calorie replenishment, after all. The good news if that drink of choice is beer? The microbrew boom is in full swing in ski towns from New York to California. Here’s our selection of the finest brewpubs. (Bonus for the locavores: in locations deep within the mountains, craft beer might be one of the few foodstuffs produced locally.)
Boneyard Brewing, Bend, Oregon
Mount Bachelor doesn’t have slopeside lodging, so you’ll head 20 miles downhill to Bend, which stocks more than a dozen breweries for a town of 80,000 people. Our top pick, beer-for-beer, is Boneyard Brewing. Check out their Skunkape, a collaboration with Washington-state snowboard manufacturer Lib Tech, who makes a board by the same name. The only problem? They close at six. So afterwards, roll a few blocks to the Bond Street location of Deschutes Brewery. Though they're lately gotten hype for limited collectors' batches, the exceptional Red Chair NW IPA (named after one of Bachelor’s lifts) and the fresh hop Chasin’ Freshies are available all ski season, October through December. If you're looking for grub, go for the elk burger with Gruyère.
Wasatch Brew Pub, Park City, Utah
Park City-based Wasatch Brew Pub garnered international press ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics, when advertising companies refused to post billboards for their Mormon-mocking Polygamy Porter. These days, their Jalapeno Cream Ale is the brew causing a stir, at least amongst beer aficionados. It’s got the aroma and flavor of the pepper, but without the burn. Try both at the flagship pub on Main Street in downtown Park City. Due to Utah’s quirky alcohol laws, beers on tap must be 4 percent alcohol by volume, but Wasatch is free to sell their 6 percent ABV Ghostrider White IPA as long as its bottled. Last winter, the pub began Ski Movie Mondays, free showings of ski porn by outfits like Sweetgrass Productions on Monday nights.
Lone Peak Brewery, Big Sky, Montana
Steve Nordahl, one of the founders of Maryland’s famed Flying Dog Brewery, opened the Lone Peak Brewery in 2007, just a few-minute drive downhill from Big Sky’s chairlifts. At Lone Peak, he turns out fewer than 2000 barrels a year, but the facility has at least 10 brews on tap at all times. Belly up with the locals at the 70-seat restaurant and order a Brewski—a five-shot sampler laid out atop a sawed-off ski tip. Make sure it includes Lone Peak’s standouts, the caramel-toned Lone Peak IPA and the Hippy Highway Oatmeal Stout, robust and flavorful for a beer that clocks in at just 5.5% ABV. Fortify yourself with the restaurant’s specialty, Spicy Jerk Wings.
Great Adirondack Brewing Company, Lake Placid, New York
Twenty minutes from former Olympic alpine ski venue Whiteface Mountain, the snow globe town of Lake Placid is your best option for lodging and dining. The beer lover’s pick is Great Adirondack Brewing Company on Main Street, which combines brews from its seven-barrel system with upscale steak and seafood in the cozy dining room. There are five house brews always on tap and another couple seasonals rotating through. We recommend the Whiteface Black Diamond Stout, which has won more awards than any other. Pair it with the house specialty prime rib.
Thai Me Up, Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson’s Snake River Brewery gets a lot of attention—it’s been an institution for decades—but Jackson Hole’s real beer connoisseurs more frequently drop by Thai Me Up. With just a tiny 3bbl system tucked into the back of their popular Thai kitchen, the brewery nonetheless manages to crank out a host of great beers, including the award-winning 2×4 Imperial IPA, and the sassy, cherry-accented CHCH Cherry Bomb. What's cooking? Try the off-the menu Skid Curry, a rotating red, green, or yellow curry dish that’s one of Jackson Hole’s best values at $8.
Dillon Dam Brewery, Dillon, Colorado
Home to ski resorts Breckenridge, Keystone, and A-Basin, Summit County is also becoming a craft brew Mecca. Breckenridge Brewery, a fixture since 1990, has been joined in recent years by Pug Ryan’s, Backcountry Brewery, and Dillon Dam Brewery, the largest. Dillon Dam is a two-story, 220-capacity pub known for people-watching, particularly on Thursday nights, when half pints are free for women. There are always 13 different brews on tap, including a rotating Big Beer—the barrel-aged, higher alcohol content offering. Our favorite is the Winter Warmer, a Jägermeister-inspired dark brown ale. The menu is known for buffalo burgers, with six different options built around range-fed bison, and the huge helpings of Mountain Man Mac & Cheese with blackened salmon or shrimp.
Fifty-Fifty Brewing Company, Truckee, California
Alicia Barr and her husband founded the brewery in 2007 to free themselves from a cubicle-bound existence at Hewlett-Packard in Sacramento. “Fifty-fifty is a broad term for balance” she says, and a reminder to play more. Just 10 minutes from Northstar and 20 minutes apiece from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, Truckee is as good a spot as any for skiiers and snowboarders to rest and grab a brew. Fifty-fifty is best known for their Donner Party Porter, a nod to the famous pioneer expedition that met its cold fate just a few miles west. Don’t miss the Foggy Goggle Belgian Wit if it’s on one of the dozen rotating taps. The 120-seat pub serves all natural beef from Oregon’s Painted Hills, and periodically hosts the season’s newest ski and snowboard films. If you're in town December 5, score a ticket to their Eclipse Release Party, an annual uncorking of the Eclipse barrell-aged imperial stout.