Beer for Backpacking

What can I say? I love the outdoors. Perhaps this accounts for my bias towards craft brew in cans. While it can be debated all day about 100% light blockage vs. 98% or a host of related subjects, the versatility is undeniably useful for simple instances such as the beach, pool, camping and hiking, or when you need to go from a warm beer to a cold one quickly. Simplifying the choice even further is based upon how packable cans are (compare the weight of a sixer of bottles to the same in cans). Another plus is that as they are finished, the can be crushed to minimize their footprint in your pack.

I have experimented with bringing spirits on a prior hiking trip, however it just wasn’t the same; there is something so enticing, relaxing and downright desirable in getting to enjoy a craft brew after a long day. When said long day includes 20 miles of hiking over some serious elevation changes, a nice brew sounds like a taste of nirvana.

Backpack beer

For the selection process, a few aspects must be accounted for, primarily weather conditions and ABV/style (and of course, if not already obvious, whether or not it’s canned). Hiking in some colder weather? A nice Russian Imperial Stout will fit the bill. (Disclaimer: Use your head. While alcohol has the wonderful effect of making us feel warmer, in reality we lose more body heat. If you are in extreme conditions, play it safe and save that night’s beer for when you safely finish.) ABV comes into play in the simple fact that session IPAs are great if you plan on having several over the course of the day. But who wants to strap a 12-pack onto their pack for a multiday trek in the wilderness? We aren’t car camping after all. One higher ABV brew a night is more than enough, resulting in a much smaller pack load (alcohol related at least). For example, my next trip planned for a multiday excursion will be fueled by two Oskar Blues Ten Fidys and two Sixpoint Resins (Hi-Res if available).

Be sure to check the local laws of where you are backpacking, as possession of alcohol is not legal in all areas. As always plays it safe and use common sense.


Bennett Clark, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits beer consultant – Port Orange

Follow me on Twitter @abcbeerbennett

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