Climbing and beer have, historically, paired quite well together. Climbing, then celebrating with beer. Obviously.
There are tons of beer-loving climbers out there, but only a handful have transitioned from climber to brewer. Here are five of our favorite climber-owned or climbing-themed breweries.
Mammoth Brewing Company
A beer that goes down like the “bliss of an ice climber’s one-swing stick”? Thunk. Sign us up.
According to head brewer Jason Senior, none of their staff came to Mammoth to work at the brewery. It was just a pretty good way to finance their outdoor passions. Climber-laden Fire & Eisbock, by Mammoth Brewing Company in Mammoth Lakes, California, comes from Senior’s first time on the ice at June Lake. “I remember how nice it felt to get a nice solid stick of the axe in the ice as I climbed. That translated to the smooth and powerful flavor of our Eisbock in my mind.”
The staffs rope skills come in handy on the job every once in awhile, too. When they installed their new silo a few years back, it was up to another brewer to rope up and detach the chains from the crane at the top, before rappelling back down. “The outdoors really is a way of life when living in Mammoth and we love it,” said Senior. “That can’t help but play into our beers.”
Figure Eight Brewing
For what they lack in actual climbing, this Valparaiso, Indiana-based brewery makes up for in climbing psych. Their climbing-themed beers, featuring a Camp 4 Nut Brown Ale made with Mount Hood hops, a Pale Ale named the Bivy Surfer, and a 11% ABV Triple IPA named Choss are laden with classic imagery.
One of their highlight Imperial Reds, Ro Shampo, shares a name with one of founder and brewer Tom Uban’s favorite routes in Red River Gorge. “I have always enjoyed the climbing community, and I find the brewing community is similar,” said Uban. “People are just interested in seeing everyone do well.”
Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company
This Fresno-based brewery’s logo is a play off the Forest Service emblem, and they give back to groups like the Yosemite Conservancy. Their drinks serve to highlight the mountains they love. “We want to represent the beauty of the southern Sierras,” said Michael Cruz, the brewery’s president, about their philanthropic efforts.
The menu features Mount Whitney Pale Ale, Half Dome California Wheat, and even Midnight Lightning Stout, dark enough to contrast nicely with the famous white lightning bolt emblazoned on the front of the bottle. TSBC’s staff is chock full of climbers, Cruz says, which makes naming the beers almost as fun as drinking them.
Avery Brewing Company
The wide selection of critically acclaimed beers from Boulder’s Avery Brewing may not have a ton of climbing imagery or inspiration, but climbing is definitely a big part of its history. Founder Adam Avery moved to Colorado from back east in 1993 when he was 27 and in the midst of a “quarter-life crisis.” The cure? Rock climbing. In his downtime, he started home brewing (he’d learned the basics from a co-worker at Eastern Mountain Sports). Eventually, he started a brewery with his father. Now, his vacations serve a dual purpose: climbing and spreading the Avery word.
Base Camp Brewing Company
Portland’s Base Camp Brewing brews for the “adventurous palate,” but according to co-founder Joey Dallas, climbing and the crew’s other favorite outdoor pursuits are only one piece of the puzzle. “Life in our neck of the woods is so sweet, and these beers are one avenue into connecting closely with and appreciating our home,” says Dallas.
Warehouse manager Nina Houts grew up as a competition climber in California before quitting her climbing gym job, packing everything into her car, and moving to Portland. “When I rolled in for my interview at Base Camp with my car full with all my worldly possessions and climbing gear, it seemed like a good fit,” she said. For her, it’s the similarities between the climbing and beer communities’ passion and enthusiasm that pulled her in. Now she spends her off days at Carver Boulders where she’s likely to pack in a few brews.
Got a favorite climbing inspired brewery we should know about? Tell us in the comments below.