As the popularity of craft beer continues to rise, more and more brewers are realizing that the perfect work/life balance means living and working in a ski town. As a result, breweries are popping up near ski resorts around the country. Whether it’s the unique water characteristics available for the brewing process or perhaps a resultant “je ne sais quoi” type of personality that’s drawn to the mountains, these breweries are crafting some mighty fine beverages that are perfect for sipping after an epic day on the slopes. Here’s a rundown of some of newest—and eagerly anticipated—breweries in ski towns across the country.
Littleton, New Hampshire
Situated about 30 miles from Bretton Woods Ski Resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Schilling Beer Company is bringing a bit of Bavaria to the mountains of the northeast. After renovating an old gristmill from 1797, the founders took a page from their European brewing counterparts and started brewing beers in Belgian, German and Czech styles with some Austrian, Polish and even Baltic styles thrown in for good measure.
“We only brew within the continental European traditions, a reflection of our personal experiences living and working in Germanic areas of Europe, as well as our family’s heritage,” says Jeff Cozens, CEO of Schilling Beer Company. “We draw inspiration from classical Belgian, Czech, German and Polish brewing methods (among others), and conduct much of our research in Germany—especially when reviving centuries-old European ales, such as our Grätzer beer. We tap culture, history and science in every pour of Schilling.”
Many of Schilling’s beers are unique not only within New Hampshire, but are rarely found along the East Coast.
Open Date: Sept. 2013
Beers Brewed: Besserwisser, Kamarade, Clervaux, Herkules Kölsch, Erastus, Dr. Oovert, Rustic Belgian Brown, Schlaumeier, Jaroslav, Dusseldorf-style Altbier, Nouveau Monde Witbier, Heller Weizenbock, Smoked Kristall.
Signature Beer(s): Rustic Belgian Brown, Kamarade Baltic Porter, Erastus Belgian-style Tripel
Canandaigua, New York
Located just 20 minutes from Bristol Mountain Ski Resort in the Finger Lakes region of NY, there’s a New York State Farm Brewery. What does that mean? It’s a special designation that means at least 20 % of all their ingredients must come from New York State products. Not only can you sample the beers on site and purchase a growler of beer to take home with you, but you can also sit at the tasting bar and have a pint of beer—a rarity within NY state.
But it’s not just the ability to taste and sample the beer on site that makes Twisted Rail special.
“When you visit Twisted Rail, you get to shake the hand of the man that’s brewing,” says owner and brewer John McMullen. “You can talk beer with the people making it, and that is not something that can be done everywhere.”
Open Date: Dec. 2013
Beers Offered: Farmhouse Ale; ESB Rail Ale; Twistmas Ale; Rye Barley Wine; Oatmeal Stout; IPA.
Signature Beer: Time will tell. The brewers at Twisted Rail will make that call when they see what’s most popular.
Beech Mountain, North Carolina
What’s better than a freshly brewed craft beer after a day on the slopes? Grabbing a freshly brewed beer without leaving the slopes. Beech Mountain Resort in North Carolina recently opened Beech Mountain Brewing Company in its Alpine Village. With the capacity to brew up to 100 gallons per day, this brewery will be able to satisfy a lot of thirsty skiers and snowboarders.
“Having a brewery at a ski resort really sets us apart from other breweries in the Southeast,” says Talia Freeman, director of marketing at Beech Mountain Resort. “The laidback atmosphere of our ski resort carries over into the brewery. Where else can you ski, snowboard, ice skate, and stand by an open fire in the snow while sampling freshly-made brews?”
Open Date: Jan. 2014
Beers Offered: 5506 Pale Ale, Cream Ale, Scottish Ale
Signature Beer: 5506 Pale Ale
In a town known for its eponymous brewery, it’s going to take some seriously tasty beer to put Broken Compass on the map. However, the first sip of Broken Compass’s Coconut Porter makes it clear that the former chemical-engineer-turned-brewer Jason Ford is on the right track.
But there’s more to offer than just delicious beer for the brewer and founders.
“We have no designs on big distribution. We focus on quality beer, quality community and fun,” says David Axelrod, Co-Founder of Broken Compass Brewing. “We want to be a gathering place for the community and support it with certain percentages of revenue from certain beers going to local causes. We love Breckenridge and we’re excited to be able to share our love of beer with the place that we love.”
Opening Date: March 2014
Beers Offered: Coconut Porter, Chili-Pepper Pale Ale, Chocolate Coffee Stout, IPA, Wit, Helles.
Signature Beer(s): Coconut Porter or Chili-Pepper Pale Ale
Roaring Fork Beer Company
Anyone who has skied in Aspen knows the charms of Carbondale, a town that is located less than half an hour from the resort but feels like a world away. New to the area is Roaring Fork Beer Company, who’s decided to approach things a little differently.
“Unlike most production breweries, we have decided to focus on brewing seasonally inspired beers, barrel-aged beers and one-off batches,” says Roaring Fork Beer Company brewer and founder Chase Engel. “We only have one year-round flagship brew, our Freestone extra pale ale, which gives plenty of freedom to allow the changing seasons and available local ingredients to dictate the styles of beer we brew.”
Opening Date: March 2014
Beers offered: Freestone Extra Pale Ale, a very hop forward, golden-hued pale ale; a nitrogenated oatmeal brown ale; a strong Belgian golden ale (trippel) and an Imperial IPA
Signature Beer: Freestone Extra Pale Ale
Steamboat is set to welcome, not one, but TWO new breweries in the upcoming months. What is it about this town that makes it to appealing to brewers?
“We’re both making beer with some of the best water in the world,” explains Mark Fitzgerald, owner and manager at Butcherknife Brewing Company. “We get it straight from the source and get first use of this prime, mountain water. We don’t have to take anything out of the water to work with it—we’re working with blank slate and can do whatever we want from there.”
Butcherknife Brewing Company
While Butcherknife will open a tasting room by the end of April, the brewery’s real focus is on getting the beer into bars and restaurants before the taproom opens. Fitzgerald says that Butcherknife’s goal is to be a good representation of what the town of Steamboat has to offer: a friendly atmosphere with western hospitality.
“We make what we like to drink and we hope that others like that too,” says Fitzgerald. “We don’t feel beholden to traditional styles. We want to do things our own way, to do things the Steamboat way.”
Opening Date: April 2014
Beers Offered: Imperial IPA, Singularity American Pale Ale, Buzzcock British Mild.
Signature Beer: Singularity American Pale Ale
Storm Peak Brewing Company
Opening Date: May 2014
Storm Peak Brewing Company, which is set to open shortly after Butcherknife, has a different focus for their brewery.
“Our business is focused almost entirely in our taproom. We may distribute a couple beers here and there, but our focus is our space and making sure it’s inviting and fun for people to hang out in,” says Wyatt Patterson, co-owner of Storm Peak Brewing. “We’ll have TVs, games, a sun deck, live music occasionally and an open floor plan. We’re conveniently located on the bus loop so visitors can get a free ride from pretty much anywhere in Steamboat right to our front door.”
Beers Offered: Black Ale, Golden Ale, Belgian Style Ale, Classic IPA
Signature Beer: “We don’t like to talk about signature beers,” says Patterson. “Our goal is to make a wide range of beers that appeal to every pallet, from sweet and fruity, to dark and malty. Our signature beer is the one you like the most.”
June Lake Brewing won’t be open for this ski season but will be ready to pour you a cold one after your ride this summer.
June Lake Brewing
June Lake, California
Situated about half an hour from Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, the town of June Lake is primed for its first brewery, the new June Lake Brewing, which will open in time for the summer mountain biking season. It’s the community that makes this new brewery special, says Sarah Walsh, CEO of June Lake Brewing, and it will be the essence of the product and the brand.
“Many people have been coming up here for generations and the town has some of the most beautiful terrain and best backcountry access around,” says Walsh. “Beer is also up to 98% water; June Lake’s municipal water comes straight from mountain springs surrounding June Lake itself. This distinction is very critical in the water’s profile, quality and taste. By tempering aggressive San Diego style brews with phenomenal water straight from the heart of the Eastern Sierra, we’re creating a point of differentiation and a product that cannot be replicated.”
Open Date: June 2014
Beers Brewed: Alpers Pale Ale, Smokin Porter, Hütte Double IPA, Deer Beer Brown Ale, Kilmister Ginger Beer (gluten and diary free)
Signature Beer: Though Walsh says it’s too early to tell, early predications put Alpers Pale Ale as a safe pick.