Last weekend we embarked on what might be the greatest “hike-in” beach camp spot in all of the Northwest. Our trip to Shi Shi Beach in the Makah Indian Reservation (Neah Bay, WA) was beyond epic. Many a new terms were coined, wooden implements fashioned, pasty foods consumed, ocean plunges taken, driftwood bonfires lit and even a few articles of clothes smoked for that take home campfire flavor (see SmokedJorts.com).
But like many of you, I was stumped by how to perfectly plan for 50+ hours in no man’s land, sans cooler and additional space for my brethren – beer. Food was a stumble, but doable. Equipment seemed to fit without excess weight. Even multi-weather clothing seemed to be a cinch. But Beer – not exactly.
The Dilemmas of Beerpacking
Here are some of the dilemmas:
- (1) Weight - The ratio for alcohol to weight in beer is grossly disproportional. For most of us, its part of the reason we love it so very much. It allows us to consume various types and flavors over a long period of time. But for the camper (not you, car campers!) its a pain in the ass.
- (2) Shape & Proportion - Our common vessels are the bottle, growler, keg, party pig and can. Lets toss kegs, growlers and party pigs pretty quickly. Unless you have constructed some amazing carriage that allows multiple people to share the weight, a three mile hike up and down cliffs will not facilitate these receptacles. That leaves us with smaller vessels, such as cans and bottles. Of course, bottles are glass and would need to be separated or wrapped to prevent breakage. Not enticing. This leaves the common can – but many of you are still weenies about drinking from a can. Get over it. I’ll discuss more below.
- (3) Cooling - I bet you aren’t going to carry your cooler three miles down the trail eh? Excited to have ice last for about 2 hours? There is no great solution to the cooling challenge. Ice packs add unnecessary weight for the duration that they last. Soft pack coolers are a decent try, if they fit in your pack.
A Good Set of Rules to Live By
So, I thought long and hard about these things. We did some things right – and some wrong. Lets discuss the goals:
- (1) Cut Weight & Volume Usage With Cans - We all want to drink beer when camping. Liquor just can’t satisfy the mountain man inside. Here’s the solution: Get cans. Unless you have been living in a cave, you probably know that many of our nation’s finest brewers can their beer. Here are a few of the best: Oskar Blues, Big Sky, 21st Amendment, Anderson Valley, New Belgium, 7 Seas, and soon to be – Fremont Brewing. Canned beer is great! Newer cans keep beer fresher, reduce transit costs and are better for the environment. Its the easiest to pack in and to pack out, reducing in size to easily recycle. This one is a no-brainer. Get yourself a few sixers of canned beer.
- (2) Forget the Chilling Vessel – Use Nature - I realize that this one might apply only us in the high north. In Washington state, all of our water is cold! Whether you are by the sea or in the mountains, a fresh supply of frigid water will await you. Hauling around any type of chilling device, whether it be an ice pack or a soft cooler is probably a waste of space. It will not protect your treasured ale from the sun and humidity. Find a water source early in the trip and something to lodge your beer beneath the water’s surface to keep it from the sun’s heat and light. A good choice is that good old bear canister that you are most likely required to have in order to camp in the vast NW. Once the sun retreats, pull your canister, drink up, seal off food for the night and repeat the next day.
- (3) Pace Yourself & Conserve - Unfortunately, you need to leave your Saturday city drinking behind. Do not expect to have the same epic consumption schedule you typically fly through each weekend. Be a grown up and consume at a reasonable pace. Remember, nothing is worse than spending some time on an amazing beach and knowing that you are out of ale. Always keep a few in the cooler and educate your friends on properly preparing. Otherwise, they’ll be hounding you to pass one over.
Suggestions From Beer Blotter
If you decided to go can and on-site cool – here are some pointers:
- (1) ABV is King – Think about ABV when you are planning. In our instance we wanted the best ABV to price ratio. The golden rule in my opinion was a perfect 1 : 1 of ABV % to 6 Pack price (i.e. 8% for $8). This led us directly to Oskar Blues Old Chub, which rings in right at the sacred 1 : 1 ratio (actually I paid $8.99, but close enough). While you might be tempted to go for that Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, Gordon or Gubna, remember that a 6 pack might take you into the $20-$24.00 range. Yikes! Look for the 7%-8% grogs; they seem to have the best value.
- (2) Flavor Should Match Your Surroundings - Here is where I admit my first error. Beach camping requires a specific type of beer. Old Chub, a scotch ale with complete caramel maltiness was not our best choice. Instead, 21st Amendment’s Brew Free or Die was our best selection. The IPA matched all weather conditions, was refreshing, and still maintained an acceptable flavor at air temperature. Unfortunately, we had a small 6 pack supply. Remember to look out for Fremont Brewing’s potential IPA release soon in the future. Another great choice would absolutely be 7 Seas Ballz Deep Double IPA, which comes in 16oz cans at 8.4%!!!! Wish we could have found a few of those for the trip.
- (3) Suffer the Weight, Not the Beer-less Moments - Nothing is worse then getting to your site and knowing that you could have handled another 6 pack in your pack. You will want that 72oz of greatness! Pack as much as you can possibly muster without injuring yourself. Remember that the trek back will be a heck of a lot lighter!
From all of us at BeerBlotter.com – Have a hell of summer!
I’ve been out of service, out-of-town camping on this epic beach located on the most Northern part of the Olympic Peninsula. This weekend, I went on my first backpacking trip. We swam in the Pacific Ocean, sat by a bonfire on a beach, watched sea lions play and learned that beer is a precious commodity. We opted to bring cans of 21st Amendment Brew Free or Die IPA and Oskar Blues’ Scotch Ale. Damn good beers, especially after being chilled in the cold creek. But we are back to civilization and I have the remainder of your week in beer.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Full Sail Pint Night: Hood River, Oregon
5:00PM-9:00PM @ Full Sail Brewing Co.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
BELL’S ON: Louisville, Kentucky
12:00PM-12:00AM @ Louisville Beer Store
The Bell’s Brewery beer menu includes (its incredible):
* Batch 9000 (Imperial Stout)
* Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury
* Rye Stout
* Expedition Stout (firkin)
* Two Hearted Ale
* Oarsman Ale (Berliner Weisse)
* Sparkling Ale (Belgian Strong)
* Poolside Cherry Wheat
* Lager of the Lakes
* Amber Ale
* Consecrator Doppelbock
*2oz samples, beer flights, and full size pours (10oz, 12oz, 16oz.) will be available. Select beers will be available for growler fills.
Friday, July 9, 2010
Oskar Blues Tasting: Post Falls, Idaho
5:00PM- 6:30PM @ Enotea, Fine Wine and Beer
Oskar Blues is brewed out of Colorado and comes in cans only (ideal for backpacking!). This brewery makes a range of beers including a double IPA and an Imperial Stout. Stop by Enotea for an informative session on this environmentally conscience brewery. A fun fact: Lightweight cans enable Oskar Blues to reduce its fuel costs and carbon footprint for shipped beer by 35%.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
POP! Fest, Beer and Popcorn: Warrenville, Illinois
1:00PM-5:00PM @ Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery
This sounds interesting- Beer and Gourmet Popcorn pairings with beers from Chicagoland Rock Bottom locations, Goose Island, Flossmoor Station, Gordon Biersch, and Metropolitan Brewing Co. This event costs $15.00.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Victory World Cup Final Event: Queens, New York
2:00PM – 6:00PM @ Sunswick 35/35
Ok, so the USA isnt in the finals, its still a damn exciting event. Come watch the World Cup Final w/8 selections from Victory Brewing Company. The lineup will be announced sometime this week.
Sorry for the short week, but it was nice to get away and be disconnected from all that is life. The camping trip brought up an interesting article idea: what beers are best for backpacking? You want a can, you want strength, but you want something that will be refreshing and taste good when its not chilled. More on that later. But as always, if you have any thoughts, comments, questions about an event, canned beer and camping or anything beer related, leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!