MntnReview: Top 3 Post-Hike Breweries

Editor’s Note: Sometimes, it’s the secondary additions to our outdoor adventures that have the largest impact on the time we spend outside and with friends. MntnReview aims to give you the best recommendations, reviews, and tips for the slightly more off-beat pieces that go into making your journeys great.

 

“We need to stop on our way up and get beer.”

“All right, but where are we going afterwards?”

These two sentences are repeated every time my boyfriend and I head out on another trip. This tradition of enjoying a beer on the summit and then finding a brewery after began two years ago. I liked to think we were doing something original, but after spending years in the hiking community, I now know we’re not the only ones enjoying this luxury.

Our ritual has two parts, even if they don’t always happen together. First, choosing to enjoy a drink while on a hike is completely dependent on time, place, and manner. For instance, if we are traveling in the White Mountains during winter, I likely do not want to linger on a summit longer than it takes to snap a few pictures. On the other hand, spring, summer, and fall bring gorgeous weather that makes you want to stay – so why not enjoy a nice cold one with your picnic lunch?

However, if weather, weight, or other conditions prevent it, we simply opt to enjoy one after the hike. But, in this instance, knowing how to find the perfect brewery is essential. Options abound whether you are in New England conquering the 4,000 footers or in New York hitting the Catskills and Adirondacks.

Yelp is excellent for a general idea of how breweries stack up against one another, but nothing beats first-hand knowledge! I have found the best ones to try off the beaten path.

1. Moat Mountain

 

If you happen to be in New Hampshire playing around in the White Mountains, I highly recommend a stop in North Conway. Located in Mount Washington Valley, this little town is old-world New England meets bustling city charm, and it features one of my favorite breweries. Nestled inside what was once a personal home, Moat Mountain has something for every palate – a stout, a hoppier IPA, or something sweet and refreshing like a blueberry. My preference by far is Miss V’s Blueberry, but for the beer enthusiast who may be slightly indecisive, the eight-beer sampler is always a safe bet. Plus, I don’t know if you could find better French fries anywhere!  

[Photo: Liz Bonacci]
[Photo: Liz Bonacci]

2. Keegan Ales

If New Hampshire is a little far for your weekend getaway, another one of my favorites is hiding right in the heart of the New York Catskills. My boyfriend and I stumbled upon this local hotspot after hiking Peekamoose Mountain in Kingston, New York.

We were definitely outsiders walking into this place, but if you can put the stares from people wondering if you just moved to town out of your mind, this brewery has not only a fantastic beer selection, but one of the best mac and cheeses I have ever had. If you decide to give this spot a go, Jo Mama’s Milk, voted by the New York Times as one of North America’s top 10 imperial stouts, does not disappoint! However, if stouts are not your thing (they aren’t really mine, either), the Old Capital is a light, refreshing, and sweeter alternative.

[Photo: Liz Bonacci]
[Photo: Liz Bonacci]

3. The Heady Topper

If these two breweries haven’t struck a chord with you, then maybe you are up for more of a challenge.

Vermont is the home of a nationally famous beer called Heady Topper, formerly served exclusively at The Alchemist Pub and Brewery in Waterbury, VT. Now brewed once a week and distributed to only a handful of select liquor stores, this notoriously difficult-to-find beer has to this day eluded even us! Why is Heady Topper so popular? Well, I don’t know – I have yet to taste it, personally, but it sure does get rave reviews on sites like the Boston Globe and Beer Advocate, and it’s a must-try just because it’s so hard to find! This beer seems to be worth its weight in travel time!

 

There you have it, guys: three breweries in three states to hopefully cover the expanse of your next adventure! Even if you aren’t a big drinker, the chance to share some laughs and stories with your hiking buddies is the stuff that memories are made of.