Top Ten Ski Resorts to Down a Local Beer
|Enjoying a cold one after a day on the slopes of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (courtesy, Steve Casimiro/Jackson Hole Mountain Resort)|
For a certain breed of pub-loving traveler, the perfect après-ski quaff is neither Jagermeister, nor a hot toddy, nor Red Bull and vodka. For these winter athletessnowboarders and skiers alikeinsistent that life is too short to pass up a powder day, a resort without a craft brewery is no resort at all. Fortunately, thanks to growing demand, such breweries have proliferated like snow bunnies, enabling the zymurgically-minded to add one more criteria to their vacation matrix. Hence, we have rounded up an array of first-rate North American ski resorts, but only those where a quality brewery can be found nearby. With this guide, you'll find top picks for both where to find fresh powder, as well as where to restore your mind and muscles with some of our favorite pints of Vitamin B. Prost!
10. Wintergreen Resort, Devil's Backbone Brewing Co.
The Hill: Central Virginia's Wintergreen is a three-hour drive from Washington, D.C., and the premiere ski and snowboard area in the mid-Atlantic region. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains (relatively speaking) the 11,000-acre resort offers 26 runs comprising 126 acres, including 14 with night lights.
The Beer: Devil's Backbone Brewing Company is a new operation south of the tiny town of Nellysford, a 15-minute drive from Wintergreen. Make the easy drive, and you'll find that après-ski specials await. Despite the newness of the brewery, four of its beers picked up awards at the annual Great American Beer Festival: Gold Leaf Lager, Natural Born Keller, Danzig Porter, and Vienna Lager.
In the know: Brewery founder Steve Crandall crafted the namesake Wintergreen Weiss, a Bavarian Hefeweizen, after a ski trip the Alps.
On the go: The Outer Limits is a new, 2,000-foot Black Diamond run.
9. Northstar-at-Tahoe, FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
The Hill: Forty miles from Reno, Nevada, and 200 from San Francisco, the 3,000-acre Cinderella of Lake Tahoe, frequently bypassed by hard-core skiers in favor of nearby Heavenly and Squaw, is finally ready for the ball. In 2009, Northstar completed significant upgrades, adding grooming machines and snowmaking equipment, and installing a new gondola. Such moves have improved conditions and added to the super service that savvy visitors have long enjoyed.
The Beer: In 2008, FiftyFifty stepped up to fill the hole left in town when Truckee River Brewing closed. The award-winning brewery has embraced a slew of eco-initiatives, and its Rockdale IPA was the people's choice at Hayward, California's 11th-annual India Pale Ale competition.
In the know: Take it easy on the Trifecta Belgian Style Tripel, which boasts an alcohol content of 8 percent.
On the go: Seven terrain parks make Northstar one of the nation's top picks for snowboarders.
8. Mount Bohemia, Keweenaw Brewing Co.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
The Hill: Unique among Midwestern winter resorts, Mount Bohemia on Michigan's fabled Upper Peninsula boasts plenty of black-diamond terrain. Seven hours by car from Milwaukee and ten from Detroit, the resort receives epic snow dumps thanks to precipitation blowing off Lake Superior, meaning 900-foot Bohemia receives Utah-worthy snow. Better yet, hardly anybody has ever heard of the place, so even though there are only two lifts, you won't find many lines.
The Beer: With ten taps, the Keweenaw Brewing Company in Houghton is the local favorite, offering a cozy place to sip a pint of suds. Due to its popularity, KBC built a new facility in 2007 that can produce up to 24,000 gallons a month.
In the know and on the go: It's about an hour to Houghton, so grab a growler to go (but not if you're driving). Local shops also carry cans of Keweenaw's Pick Axe Blond and other ales.
7. Jackson Hole, Snake River Brewing
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
The Hill: From the laid-back vibe to the in-your-face steeps, Jackson Hole remains a major destination with a whole lotta soul. Built across two peaksApres Vous and Rendezvousthe area offers 2,500 acres of inbounds skiing and snowboarding, while backcountry gates open onto an additional 3,000 acres. Jackson Hole also boasts the longest vertical rise on the continent, a total of 4,139 feet.
The Beer: When your legs finally collapse, head for the Snake River Brewpub in downtown Jackson. The brewers are all jocks, who look to the outdoors for inspiration, and it has paid off beers such as the Zonker Stout, which has won the World Beer Cup three times.
In the know: Miles to go? Stick with the low-alcohol A.K. Session, which took second place at the 2009 Great American Beer Fest.
On the go: For a mere $1,400 you can enjoy a private tour and lessons from Olympic medalist Tommy Moe, an official Jackson Hole ambassador.
6. Big Sky Resort, Lone Peak Brewery
Big Sky, Montana
The Hill: Some 40 miles from the college town of Bozeman, Big Sky's bibs are blanketed with champagne-light powder and hardly another skier in sight. Thanks to the topography of Lone Peak (rising to 11,166 feet, it's one of the highest ski-able mountains in the country) hardly a snow storm hits Montana that doesn't reach Big Sky. With 150 named runs, there's plenty of real estate to explore in the unlikely event that you do feel crowded.
The Beer: Come for the snow, but stay for the cerveza. The namesake Lone Peak Brewery's tasting room serves suds that owe a lot to the mountain: Steep 'N Deep Winter Ale, Hellroaring ESB, and the signature Lone Peak IPA.
In the know: Montana liquor laws limit the amount of beer that may be consumed on premise to 48 ounces.
On the go: Double your fun. Buy a combined ticket that includes neighbor Moonlight Basin.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication