It’s that special time of the year when ski magazines begin filling the mailboxes of those who have gone too long without snow. Hope returns to our hearts. These happy literary companions fill their pages with helpful provisos on the gear most likely to bring us to the ultimate level of snowgasmic satisfaction this coming season. This event happily coincides with the most celebrated season among boozers: Oktoberfest-to-opening-day. So, shredders, I decided to save you time and pair my nine of my favorite skis with my nine favorites craft beers.
1. The Ski: The TST and the TSTw – Armada
These skis are perfection: The stiff cores sing when edged-out; the floater tips feel cheerful on all surfaces, and a leaner build makes them pack and ski friendly. “All-around” does not begin to cover the multi-faceted capabilities of these decks. They felt like a new ski on every surface. I am generally impressed with Armada’s arsenal. They have grown a lot in the last five years and I swear I felt the divine presence of JP Auclair when I skied these.
The Beer: Heady-Topper,Alchemist Bewery,VT
This double IPA will change your personal philosophy. Hoppy, citrusy, light, and delicious. It’s hard to describe this beer because it is so unlike any other brew out there. The only problem is getting your hands on one – packs of Heady-Toppers are as hard to come by as untracked lines on Collins ten minutes after opening.
2. The Ski: Gypsy-Icelantic Skis
These skis were a surprise: like a blind date that actually went well. In the pow, they were stellar surfers, but remained responsive in crud. My only complaint was that they were a bit cumbersome when making a complete carve, but in terms of an aggressive powder board that allows for control at speeds, this one is a winner.
The Beer: Double Bag-Longtrail (VT)
A malty miracle double altbier that has always been and will always be a winter favorite: boasts a proud head that is softened nicely with hops and caramel. A complex but companionable beer that makes your belly feel nice and fuzzy after a day on the mountain.
3. The Ski: CT4.0-Faction
A go-to tool for any big line skiing trixster: Nice and light, pops off of the tiniest features, and sluices through pow. A bit too exciting on firm surfaces, but all-in-all a ski that does justice to its namesake, Candide Thovex. PS: If you did not see Few Words last year, you’re behind the curve.
The Beer: Little Sumpin Sumpin-Lagunitas (CA)
If you’re looking for a brew to help validate bad decisions, get familiar with this one. Categorically the most fun Belgian IPA in the biz, this beer has a great range features: citrus, hops, and a kick ass ABV. *For those epic blue bird days in the Spring, grab a Sumpin Sumpin WILD.
4. The Ski: Cochise-Blizzard
Blizzard put up a stellar ski array this year. I had a blast on both the Gunsmoke and Bodacious as well as the Cochise, which won out due to their diversity. These boys are aggressive! I put them on the worst crap I could find and couldn’t get one rattle out of them. While they aren’t the most playful in fluff, they are one of the best all-condition big mountain skis out there.
The Beer: Pliny the Elder-Russian River Brewing Co.
I will never forget the first time I tried this beer. Drink this on a day of epic pow and I guarantee you – that day will go down as one of the best of your life. The brew is cleaner than other double IPAs due to its piney hops and crisp citrus notes, but will still grow you a moustache in an hour. A worthy mistress for any aficionado.
5. The Ski: Wailer 112 RP-DPS
The Backcountry trekker’s dream. This is a light backcountry ski with just the right amount of edge. Definitely prefers a savvy, experienced skier who favors manual-style skiing, but a tremendous workhorse that allows for creative freedom even on spicy terrain.
The Beer: Double Imperial Black IPA-Uinta Brewing
A great winter black IPA. Creamy, but carbonated enough to still feel fun. The hops and ABV were right on and the warm caramel head is lip-smacking good.
6. The Ski: V8-Voile
All year, every year. This ski has consistently ranked on my top ten since its inception. Best bang for your buck.
The Beer: Optimator-Spaten (Munich)
One of my favorite dark beers ever! This big bear has a rich, malty body that’s cut nicely with a quick kick of citrus. Goes down like butter but doesn’t go straight to the gut.
7. The Ski: FX104-Kastle
A precision instrument for the bold and the bad. While many powder chasers would find these a bit stiff under foot, for the serious big mountain savant, these skis have the ferocity of a Bengal tiger and the après game of McConkey. Not for the easily intimidated.
The Beer: Oktoberfest-Great Lakes Brewing Co
Excellent reinterpretation of a classic Oktober Marzen: an intoxicating blend of brown sugar, caramel, and light citrus. Can be consumed in large quantities and counted upon to distract you from the state of your bases after those first early season shred sessions.
8. The Ski: Walk-Frees-Surface
An excellent lightweight ski made for all-day, everyday backcountry exploration – and from a groovy local ski company with a rad crew to boot. Check ‘em!
The Microbrew: Good Gourd Pumpkin IPA-Cigar City Brewing (FL)
BEST PUMPKIN ALE EVER.
9. The Ski: The Function (M)/The Design(W)-Deviation
The folks at Deviation are craftsmen. Each ski is infused with love and proved very adaptable in all conditions. Ski local!
The Beer: Founders Breakfast Stout-Founder Brewing (MI)
Great double IPA with a decent head followed by clean chocolate and coffee notes that are paired with a rich oatmeal finish. My go-to breakfast stout.