Trail Bartender: A Guide to Drink-Hike Pairings

What’s better than sitting on the top of a mountain? How about sitting on the top of a mountain with a nice brew in hand? Many hikers would agree that it’s a long-time tradition to enjoy a drink after a hike, as long as you know how to match it with the right beverage.

Winter hikes can be whiskey business

While whiskey is an exceptional spirit for many occasions, nothing is more heartwarming than a few generous swigs of the stuff on a bitter cold hike. So, throw a few shots in a Klean Kanteen, and enjoy it on your way up the mountain for a small splash of liquid motivation. You obviously don’t want to go into party mode in the middle of a hike, but a well-timed shot on a cold day will surprise you if you haven’t tried it before. It may seem risky to enjoy liquor on the trail, but whiskey warms the soul and can push you to the top of a cold, snow-capped summit. If hiking with friends, bring enough along for them to savor, as well.

Our recommendation: Not far from the White Mountains in Tamworth, New Hampshire, Tamworth Distillery has a selection of quality whiskeys. Check them out to truly capture the local spirit, not only on the trail but also within your flask.

I have a stout feeling we can go on for days

Every smart hiker knows to be up-and-at-’em early to get the most out of your day. And, along this line, spending multiple days or nights on the trail can be made more fun if you are pairing your breakfast with an oatmeal stout. This smooth brew will help wake up your body and mind and help you have a great hike! Plus, it’s filling enough to be breakfast!

Our recommendation: Not sure where to pick one of these up? A popular hiking and outdoor activity area—Belfast, Maine—is also home to the Belfast Bay Brewing Company. A silver medal winner at the World Brewing Championships, this company brews McGovern’s Oatmeal Stout, which pairs perfectly with your morning breakfast. Before you hit the trails, be sure to grab some brews for your early morning or overnight trips.

Quit your wine-ing

Some of the longer hikes can get a little boring, and those that end with no views can be even worse. If you are in it for all NH 48, NY 46, or NE 67, you’ll need to quit your whining about the mountains with limited sights and make the most of it. Whether you are enjoying some mulled wine at the summit or a nice tall glass after you make it home, these types of adventures are perfect to pair with wine.

Our recommendation: The Green Mountains region in Vermont offers a popular destination known as “The Shrines of Vermont,” where people can enjoy wineries or just visit a local wine shop. If you are heading to the Green Mountains or coming back after a long hike, stop here to pick up something perfect to pair during or after your hike.

Credit: Hannah Wohltmann
Credit: Hannah Wohltmann

Just a hop, skip, and a jump

Not all of the trails are long and treacherous; some are short, sweet, and to the point! For those like this, I would recommend soothing amber ale. Give yourself a chance to relax and really take in the summit views, or just enjoy the beer, if the weather isn’t permitting.

Our recommendation: Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Long Trail Brewing Company out of Vermont makes a popular amber ale, Long Trail Ale; it’s light, tasty, and perfect once you reach the peak. Not in Vermont? Head to their website, type in your zip code, and find the stores near you that sell this beer. Need any more motivation? The label itself tells you to take a hike! And, who can say no to that?

I’m rum-ing out of puns

Getting close to finishing that big list of peaks can be really exciting, but also very disappointing. Putting so much time and energy into these hikes and then knowing your time is running out can be bittersweet. Why not enjoy what you have left with a little rum, before, during, or after the hike? Mix it in however you want!

Our recommendation: Promising “There is no good enough,” the American Rum Privateer out of Ipswich, Massachusetts, is a perfect, reliable, and locally made rum great to get you through your trek. The rum is produced and sold in state, so be sure to grab a bottle before you head to the mountains to ensure your rum is from a great New England company!