Though most of us are perfectly satisfied with a PBR, even ski bums like to sample the finer things in life every once in a while. Ski towns have fully embraced craft beer’s steady and certain world domination, and some of the best brews out there hail from the same little towns we do. Here are eight of the best* spots to nurse a sore body and bruised ego, celebrate a perfect day on the mountain, or at the very least, meet locals with good taste.
1. Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR: Proud creators of the iconic Black Butte Porter, Deschutes is just 30 minutes away from Mount Bachelor, in the heart of Bend, Oregon. For those who don’t love the darker stuff, try the Pinedrops IPA. Crisp and clean, the piney flavor should bring you right back to where you came from: the mountain.
2. Telluride Brewing Co., Telluride, CO: Whether you’re headed to Telluride for the bumps or the backcountry, everyone can agree on Telluride Brewery’s award-winning Face Down Brown. And if you’ve ever been to the funky mining town, you know that any of the three could leave even the best of us, well, face down.
3. Double Mountain Brewery, Hood River, OR: Not to over-represent Oregon here, but hey--they have the most breweries per capita of anywhere in the U.S. Double Mountain’s Killer Red and Killer Green are both fresh-hopped, and are a great place to start. Between their pizza and endless supply of interesting beer, you’ll want to stay a while.
4. Elysian Brewing, Seattle, WA: We know Seattle isn’t exactly a ski town, but we bet any evo, K2, Eddie Bauer, etc. employee would love to discuss that with you over a glass of Elysian. Their brews are nearly all surprising, even trippy experiences: from a jasmine-infused IPA to a “Superfuzz,” a Blood Orange pale ale that kept Seattleites hydrated all throughout 2015.
5. Mammoth Brewing Co., Mammoth, CA: Though Lagunitas and Stone may seem like the only California breweries anyone cares about anymore, Mammoth delivers with its small-town feel and awesome beer. Tired of hops punching you in the face every time you drink an IPA? Go for the Black IPA, a unique take on the uber-popular beer. Our favorite non-IPA from them is the Golden Trout, a malty, floral beer named for the Sierra-native fish.
6. Magic Hat Brewing Co., Burlington, VT: Magic Hat’s creative seasonal beers--this winter’s Snow Roller features hoppy bitterness balanced with toasty caramel notes--make it a worthwhile visit year round. However, their classic elixirs taste best after a long day of ripping around Smugglers’ Notch, Mad River Glen, or Stowe--all just an hour away.
7. Grand Teton Brewing Co., Victor, ID: At the bottom of Teton Pass and just 30 minutes away from Grand Targhee, Grand Teton has been brewing “craft beer” since before you knew what that meant. The funky spot has great outdoor seating for warmer evenings, and a killer Black Cauldron Imperial Stout, for when you can’t decide between hot chocolate and beer. The rich, thick beer features a smoky maltiness and warm caramel flavors that make it, in many ways, not all that different from your childhood aprés drink of choice. Enjoy cold, of course.
8. Wasatch Brewery, Salt Lake City and Park City, UT: Though their home state isn’t the most hospitable place to make alcoholic beverages, Wasatch Brewery just nods in the general direction of their religious history with the Polygamy Porter, a chocolatey brown porter. Our favorite, though, is the Devastator Double Bock, coming in at a potentially devastating 8% ABV. The rich lager comes in cans, too--perfect for packing out into the backcountry.
*We’re sure you all have some great additions to this list--eight breweries isn’t even enough for a weekend for some of us. Let us know what we forgot!