PHOTO: El Cap at Mount Rose calls for a cold one.
WORDS: Nathan Watkins
Among skiers, canned beer is generally considered the best way to stash a celebratory après-ski brew in a jacket pocket or backpack. Aside from that whole shattering glass issue, aluminum cans are lightweight and actually cost effective to recycle. Not too long ago, skiers had no choice but to carry mass-produced watery swill, although the ubiquitous 24-ounce PBR does rekindle fond memories.
Fortunately, craft breweries have answered the plea of the powder seeking beer lover. Now, top-quality beer in cans is available from a local brewery near most of our favorite ski hills. Here are five classic ski runs paired with a local brew to cheers, salud, prost, or santé once you make it down.
Hell Roaring: Moonlight Basin, Montana
Scape Goat Pale Ale: Big Sky Brewing Company, Missoula, Montana
It is unbelievable that a resort with this kind of terrain consistently has no crowds. All the Headwaters Chutes that line the top of Moonlight Basin are absolutely stellar, but Hell Roaring is classic. Nevertheless, be sure to watch out for mountain goats, as slough slides triggered by skiers have knocked them off the copious cliffs. Toast a can of easy drinking Scape Goat Pale Ale to an epic day of hitting big lines, while avoiding the wildlife.
The North Pole: Arapahoe Basin, Colorado
Pali Pilsner: Pug Ryan's Brewing Company, Dillon, Colorado
The North Pole is dead center on A-Basin's stunning East Wall. This chute takes its time filling in, but it is always worth the wait. A can of Pali Pilsner, named after the resort's famous Pallavacini lift, pairs well after this bootpack. A refreshing lager, this brew is best enjoyed while basking in the afternoon sunshine on The Beach, the notorious front parking lot, admiring the steep lines of The Legend.
Nose Dive: Stowe, Vermont
Heady Topper IPA: Alchemist Brewing Company, Waterbury, Vermont
Appropriately named, the pitch of this run can send you head over heels if you're too ambitious. The Nose Dive is an Eastern skiing rite of passage. Don’t like hops? This beer ain't for you. A tallboy can of the aggressively hopped Heady Topper IPA is the perfect reward for keeping the wax side down.
The Pinnacles: Mount Bachelor, Oregon
Sunrise OPA (Oatmeal Pale Ale): Fort George Brewing Company, Astoria, Oregon
The dramatic terrain that runs between these massive pillars of stone is just good ol' fashioned skiing. It is easy to be bold here, as the steep top section of The Pinnacles lead into wide open bowls. A tallboy can of Sunrise OPA pairs well while watching the sun set over the Cascades. The Fort George brewers add oats to give this well-balanced pale ale a unique smoothness that match Bachelor's bottomless days.
El Cap: Mount Rose, Nevada
Boont Amber Ale: Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville, California
Skiers poached "The Chutes" for decades before Mount Rose finally opened them up to the public in 2004. Some of these runs are a sustained 45 degrees, with sections tipping 55 degrees. El Cap is the longest and steepest chute of them all. Raise a can of Boont Amber Ale to Mount Rose for opening up such awesome terrain. This classic American amber was one of the original iconic brews of the craft brew movement. It has a nostalgic, malt driven flavor that takes you back to when skiing this area could have resulted in jail time, and when skiers considered 70mm underfoot a powder ski.