Breweries and ski towns have always gone hand in hand.
It makes sense, right? After a long day on the slopes, there's nothing quite like hitting the local brewery for a deliciously hoppy IPA or dangerously dark coffee stout. Good drinks and good friends make for great après ski – and entrepreneurial craft beer enthusiasts took notice of this in the late 1980s. Since then, micro- and nanobreweries continue to pop up across North American mountain towns, satisfying palettes of thirsty locals and curious tourists alike. Got a soft spot for great beer? Be sure to hit these top breweries on your next ski vacation.
Magic Hat Brewing Company Burlington, VT
Centrally located an hour from Smugglers' Notch, Stowe, and Mad River Glen, Magic Hat boasts creative seasonal brews with hip Vermont flair. Their catch phrase is "a performance in every bottle," and Magic Hat brewers make a point to go a little mad scientist with their craft beer experiments. Their signature #9 Not Quite Pale Ale is a favourite amongst New Englanders for its crispness and subtle hints of apricot. Saddle up to The Growler Bar inside the brewery where 8-10 regular, seasonal, and experimental brews are always on tap.
Favorite brew: Snow Roller Hoppy Brown Ale
Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company Tahoe City, California
The brewery of Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company itself is in Truckee, but the tap room is located in Tahoe City on the lake's shore, and that's where you'll want to go. The brewpub is spacious and family-friendly – 15 minutes drive from Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows. Stop in for a pint of 100% Brett fermented Party Boy IPA, or the Asian inspired Higashino Farmhouse Saison, which brewers flavour with Szechuan peppercorns and toasted brown rice. The 10% Dark Ages series boasts some serious stouts: order if you dare.
Favorite brew: Hop Dragon Double IPA
Wasatch Brewery Park City, Utah
Wasatch Brewery founder Greg Schirf not only started the first brewery in Utah in 1986; he also proposed to the Utah Legislature a bill to legalise brewpubs, which was approved in 1988. Pay homage with a visit to the brewpub located in historic downtown Park City. The brews are creatively named and deliciously flavoured, drawing inspiration from the pristine Wasatch mountains and provocative Utah history. Don't miss the Polygamy Porter if it's on nitro, and the Ghostrider White IPA and the First One Down Winter Warmer Ale after a day on the slopes. Bartenders can help you with food pairings if you're hungry for a bite.
Favorite brew: Devastator Double Bock
Melvin Brewing Jackson, Wyoming
Melvin Brewing is Jackson Hole's biggest secret; it was also the town's only nanobrewery before recent expansion due to rising popularity. Tucked inside local favourite restaurant Thai Me Up, you'll find a small bar with 5-7 Melvin beers on tap – as well as kung-fu film marathons playing on the TV in back. Melvin Brewing co-founders Kirk McHale and Jeremy Tofte draw inspiration from world travels, craft beer obsession, and snowboarding the Tetons – and their primary purpose in brewing is to have fun. The creativity shows through in seriously strong concoctions, like crowd favourites Apollonia Sweet Black Ale and Tiger Style ISA. Go early, stay late, enjoy the kung fu.
Favorite brew: Feely B Hazelnut Brown (on Nitro)
Deschutes Brewery Bend, Oregon
30 minutes from the base of Mt. Bachelor, Deschutes maintains its original building and brewery as a watering hole for Bend locals and big skiers. The Public House boasts 19 beers on tap, including Deschutes classics Black Butte Porter and Jubelale. Eco-conscious drinkers can rest easy supporting this brewery, as Deschutes prides itself on sustainable production practises and giving back to the community. The Public House is a great space for a cold beer and hot eats with friends after a day on the slopes of Bachelor.
Favorite brew: Inversion IPA
Aspen Brewing Company Aspen, Colorado
Aspen Brewing Company is new to the brewing scene: they opened their doors in 2008 and have since served Aspen locals with award-winning brews inspired by Colorado mountain lifestyle. The tap room offers 5 year-round brews on draught, plus selections from the seasonal series. Don't miss a taste of their barrel-aged temerity series: they truly are works of liquid art. The Bourbon Barrel Imperial Red is aged in Stranahan's Colorado whiskey barrels with notes of bourbon, oak, and vanilla. The brews come with stunning views of surrounding mountains.
Favorite brew: 10th Mountain Imperial Stout
Lone Peak Brewery Big Sky, Montana
source: Lone Peak Brewery
You could say Big Sky's only microbrewery has a monopoly on the craft beer scene in this small mountain town, but we're happy to say they don't take it for granted. The Lone Peak Brewery family takes personal responsibility for serving the loyal residents of Big Sky excellent beer. At the base of the resort access road, you'll find the spacious tap room offering 13 draughts – 8 of which are regularly offered year-round. Note that quirky Montana brewery laws often restrict patrons to 3 beers, so choose wisely, choose well.
Favorite brew: Steep n' Deep Winter Ale
Whistler Brewing Company Whistler, British Columbia
Get off the beaten path (and away from mainstream booze) with a trip to the Whistler Brewing Company tap room. Small and elegantly rustic, the space offers great local vibes with long-time Whistler residents – not to mention a solid (albeit small) selection of craft beer. Brews are inspired by the natural beauty of British Columbia, and include year-round regulars like the Bear Paw Honey Lager and Lost Lake IPA. Catch live music on Fridays from 6 - 9 pm.
Favorite brew: Black Tusk Ales
Telluride Brewing Company Telluride, Colorado
Since opening in 2012, Telluride Brewing Company has undergone 3 major expansions, doubling their production capacity each year. It's a testament to the quality control locked in by founders and best buds Chris Fisher and Tommy Thacher, whose dream to open a brewery was several years in the making. Adventure, friendship and community inspire fun-loving beers like the Freaky Fish Double IPA and the Smoke Shack Porter. The brewery building itself is expansive and modern, with daily tours available on-site.
Favorite brew: Ski-in-Ski-Stout
Woodstock Inn, Station & Brewery North Woodstock, New Hampshire
source: Woodstock Inn Brewery
The cosy space inside The Woodstock Inn Brewery is ideal for those visiting Loon Mountain (25-minutes drive) and Waterville Valley (30-minutes drive). Brewers use a traditional 7 barrel system to craft brews made of highest quality hops, imported grains, and White Mountain water. The space itself is the biggest draw – the brew pub is nestled inside an historic New Hampshire Inn you'd never expect to find conveniently just off I-93. Signature brews include the Live Free Or Die Amber, Pig's Ear Brown Ale, and Old Man Oatmeal Stout. Don't leave without a few bottles to share at home.
Favorite brew: Kanc Country Maple Porter