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The 9 Best Craft Beers for Every Type of Outdoor Adventure

The 9 Best Craft Beers for Every Type of Outdoor Adventure

March 22, 2019

There is no doubt that beer and adventure go hand in hand. This strong bond between the two has been built over time as adventurers have gathered in pubs, on tailgates, or along riverbanks to enjoy a pint and recap the day’s wins and amusing mishaps. Whether they’ve spent a long, hard day riding trails or climbing rock, or they’ve just enjoyed tubing on a sunny day, people who love the outdoors have made beer an integral part of their adventures.

Here are nine beer and adventure pairings to consider the next time you head out for a day of outdoor fun.

1. Mountain Biking

We’ll start with an easy one. Once you get off the saddle, it’s a no-brainer to reach for a Fat Tire amber ale from the New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado. New Belgium, founded in 1991, was one of the first of the craft brewers to make it big. The story goes that the beer makers came up with the concept for the beer on a bicycle trip through Belgium. The company organizes Tour de Fat events across the country, which combine a carnival atmosphere with cycling and beer drinking. Those close to the source in Colorado—or its second brewery in Ashland, North Carolina—are blessed with plenty of off-road options to work up a thirst. As for the beer itself? The amber ale isn’t too sweet or hoppy, with a clean finish that makes it perfect after a workout.

2. Rock Climbing

You could argue that the sport of rock climbing got its modern start in California’s Sierra Nevada Range, specifically in Yosemite National Park. In fact, Yosemite's Half Dome may be one of the most recognizable rocks in the country. It makes sense to pair climbing with Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company’s Half Dome California Wheat—a brew truly worthy of its name. Made with locally sourced stone fruit (think peaches and apricots), this wheat beer is far from bitter, and more refreshing than sweet. The brewery itself, based in Fresno, California, also supports climbing areas and donates a percentage of the profits from each beer to conservation organizations like the Sequoia Parks Foundation and the Yosemite Conservancy.

3. Car Camping

The nice thing about car camping is that you have plenty of room to bring along whatever you need—and that includes a beer. As you sit around the campfire at night, make sure to have some cans of Denver Brewing Company’s Graham Cracker Porter to pass around. Not only does this flavor evoke childhood memories of s’mores, but provides, as the brewer describes it, “notes of vanilla, smoked cedar, and mulling spices” for your tastebuds. A gold medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the specialty category, this beer is the perfect way to finish off the evening meal.

4. Float Trip

In many parts of the county, taking a lazy float trip down the river is the best way to spend a relaxing afternoon beating the heat. In Atlanta, that means “shooting the Hooch,” or floating down the Chattahoochee River. Tubing has become synonymous with all-day drinking, and floating coolers can be seen bobbing behind or alongside most rafts or tubes on any given day. Fill your floating cooler with Recreation Ale from the Terrapin Beer Company, based in Athens, Georgia. This session IPA presents “a subtle peach and passionfruit aroma.” It’s on the lighter side with a crisp finish, making it the perfect fit for a long, hot day on the river.

5. Long-Distance Hike

The most iconic hiking experience in the U.S. is the Appalachian Trail, which stretches 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. If you hike the whole thing, you’ll be deserving of the many craft brew options just off the route. But, even if you’re only up for a short stretch of the trail, the Lazy Hiker Brewing Company in Franklin, North Carolina, has the goods for a post-hike treat. Crafter breweries are booming in North Carolina, and the Lazy Hiker, just 11 miles from the Appalachian Trail, is an excellent stopping point. Try the Trail Mate Golden Ale, made with European hops and American barley. It’s a little lower in alcohol (4.6 percent) and very full in flavor.

6. Trail Running

While many are content to enjoy the outdoors at a leisurely pace, trail runners are a different breed and like to put their bodies through a bit more of a challenge. So it’s no surprise that a brewery founded by trail runners would be called Sufferfest, with the apropos tagline “will sweat for beer.” The San Francisco-based founder couldn’t find a post-run beer that met with her dietary needs (basically gluten-free), so she created her own. But you need not be on a gluten-free diet to enjoy anything in the Sufferfest line, including the Repeat, a Kolsch-style beer that’s only 95 calories (and 5 grams of carbs). It’s made with bee pollen to add both a honey and floral aroma.

7. Skiing or Snowboarding

You know a sport is serious about its drinking when you have a name for the concept—après ski. Utah is known for its excellent skiing, but maybe not so much for its beer. Of course, that just means you haven’t been there lately, as the state has developed a very strong craft brewing scene, which includes the Uinta Brewing Company out of Salt Lake City. Uinta was among the first wave of craft brewers when it was founded in 1993. After a day on the slopes in Park City, enjoy a glass of Yard Sale, a winter lager known for its notes of caramel and honey.

8. Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting usually requires a drive into the wilderness—but not always. The U.S. National Whitewater Center is located just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, and it serves as both a training ground for Olympic competitors and playground for those who love the thrill of whitewater rafting. It also has something else that’s handy—the Pump House Biergarten on the premises, with up to 60 craft beers on tap, many of them locally brewed. Chances are you’ll find local favorite NoDa there with its Jam Session IPA, that sports a strong malty flavor. Even if you’re heading out on a rafting trip on your own, this is the perfect beverage to bring along.

9. Fishing

There is no sport better suited to drinking beer. Some would argue beer is as essential an element of the pastime as the rod and reel. You’ll get no argument from Bells Brewery, which is based in Comstock, Michigan. Its Two Hearted Ale not only has a fish on the label, but it’s named for the river on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that was made famous by a Hemingway short story. Brewed with Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest, Two Hearted Ale is a flavorful beer that’s great for nursing as you wait for the fish to bite.

Written by Jeff Banowetz for Matcha in partnership with Gear Infusion.

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