Article by: Eric Blumenfeld,
Beerspoke Tours CEO
Memorial Day Weekend is here, marking the unofficial start of Summer. The weather is turning ripe for hiking, so we thought we'd give you a few tips for some of the best post-outdoorsy beer stops to hit up. After all, there is simply no better reward for completing a good hike than a good beer. That's not my opinion. It's science.
Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, Boulder, CO
We've written about these guys before in our first College Town post, and for good reason. But we're talking about Colorado here, which means we're also writing about a hiker's playground. Boulder is surrounded by trails, large and small, hard and easy, for any season. And because it's so surrounded, after most any trail in the area you'll likely wind up back at the Pearl Street Mall, looking for a way to refuel. Look no further than here. Grab a burger and one of their many quality beers to get all the important nutrients back into your system. And chat up your servers and neighbors in their very community-centric vibe about your day's hiking accomplishments to put the cherry on top. And if you embellish a bit...we won't tell.
Burial Beer Co., Asheville, NC
So we all know Asheville is always a serious contender for Beer City, USA. And for good reason. The place is loooooaded with breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, beer lovers, beer travelers...and the occasional hippie, which is always nice. It also happens to be loaded with the Blue Ridge Mountains, thousands of miles of wonderful hikeable land, with amazing views, waterfalls, waterways, nature reserves, forests, wildlife. Just check out this handy guide. Now, hiking for thousands of miles is enough to get one a little parched. So head into this very walkable, artsy city in any direction and you'll hit a brewery. It's really impossible to narrow down your options for awesomeness here, so we kind of just threw a dart to choose. And Burial will not disappoint. They distribute a little, so if you live in North Carolina, Georgia or New York, you might have tried some of their liquid goodness. But there's nothing like a visit. Besides drinking their amazing beer fresh (with a heavy tilt towards ever-changing saisons and, perhaps a little less-heavy, towards IPAs), you're doing so in a cool, rustic setting, filled with knowledgable, friendly, happy people. The brewery is perfection -- basically a well-kept rural-feeling log cabin, in a setting that feels wholly appropriate for a log cabin, overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains. And, sitting in this space, outdoors, with a brilliant saison, one could be convinced one has found perfection.
Hill Farmstead Brewery, Greensboro Bend, VT
Ok, so maybe it's a little ways away from the actual VT hiking scene, but that's because it's a little ways away from everything. And it sure as hell is a "hike" to get here. Located 70 or so miles from Burlington, finding the place through all the dirt roads is an experience. But nothing like the experience once you're there. One of the most well-respected breweries in the States and, really, the world, any beer geek knows that when Hill Farmstead is on tap at your local beer bar, you're going for that. Come here and enjoy the beautiful view of the farm and the Adirondacks, enjoy the serenity of being in the middle of freakin' nowhere, and enjoy some of the most highly rated beers in the world.
Mother Road Brewing Co. and Dark Sky Brewing, Flagstaff, AZ
Cultural attractions abound in Flagstaff, and it's one of the best (and most underrated) college towns in the country. But you gotta get outside. Sedona -- and red rocks hiking -- is only 45 minutes away, so you have to hit that up when you're in the area. But Flagstaff has some incredible hiking in its own right, across all levels. From the highest point in Arizona, the challenging Humphrey's Peak, offering stellar views, to the more moderate, lightly trafficked and beautiful Old Caves Crater Trail (where you can also explore...you guessed it...old caves), there are seemingly infinite options for the outdoorsperson in you. Also quite numerous in Flagstaff...excellent breweries. When you're done communing with nature, hit up one of the many fantastic area breweries, but make sure you don't miss Mother Road Brewing Co. or Dark Sky Brewing. At Mother Road, you'll find some of the best and friendliest service you've seen at a brewery. Could be because they're happy to be serving up awesome beers in many styles (perhaps with a bit of an IPA focus), with a great outdoor space...in Flagstaff. And head just up the road to Dark Sky Brewing, where you certainly won't be disappointed by the immense passion with which they brew their wiiiiide variety of beers and styles. They love a good experiment and, fortunately, they seem to knock it out of the park about every time...even as they work to introduce at least one new Dark Sky beer a week! And you can drink them inside, or out, on their inviting and really comfy patio.
Mammoth Brewing Co., Mammoth Lakes, CA
The Mammoth Lakes trail system is an impressive one of incredibly varied terrain, with 6,000 feet of possible elevation gain. Gorgeous lakes, vast meadows, beautiful deep forests and incredible mountain views abound. Now, sure, that's fun and all, but what good is the option to explore a wide variety of incomparable natural landscapes without the option to follow that up with a delightful beer nearby? Answer: not much. Everything about the brewery's presentation screams epic adventure. And this is the place to come to, to brag about your latest battle with epicness. Bask in the beautiful views from their beer garden (perhaps looking at some of the terrain you've already conquered), while polishing off one of their eminently drinkable beers, often trending towards a bit lighter in color and moderate abv, but with the odd bolder DIPA or so mixed in. Because, just like you...they ain't scared.