Beer is one of the common threads that unites many of us mountain bikers. And like mountain biking, beer is experiencing an explosion in the supply and creativity of high quality product. There are now more craft brewers (2500+) in the US than in any point in our history. Part of the good news is many of these brewers do a lot for the local communities and support mountain bike organizations and events.
But how does one navigate through the roof-high racks of many beer shops? We have a few words of advice and we’ve recruited a couple experts to help guide you through your journey.
What’s your favorite beer and where do you live? What beer companies are active in your cycling community? Let us know in the comments below or join the discussion on the Mtbr Beer Forum!
If you want to jump right in our Best Lists:
Josh Martino’s Top 5 Beers for the Mountain Biker
Josh Martino’s Top 5 Beers for the Noob
Josh Martino’s Top 5 Beers for the Hardcore Enthusiast Fan (Seasonal Beers, No One-Offs)
Josh Martino’s Top 5 Beers for the Hophead
Francis Cebedo’s Pliny Killer IPA Guide
Peter Tsang’s Beer Guide
Understand beer styles and discover the styles that you prefer. http://www.craftbeer.com/style-finder
Find your Top 5 beers. Having a preference will allow you to seek advice and get recommendations that fit you.
Beer is cheap so try a lot of it. Try samplers for smaller portions and share with your friends.
Always drink from a glass. Allow the beer to breathe and allow yourself to smell it as you drink it.
Pay attention to ‘gateway’ beers and learn to appreciate them first before going for the rare stuff. For example, learn to like Chimay first before you seek out the Rocheforts and Westvleteren beers of Belgium. And if you don’t like Lagunitas IPA, you’re probably not going to like Pliny or all the famous double and triple IPAs.
Be patient and open minded. It may take a while before you develop the taste for the stronger styles of beer. Keep trying beers and go for lighter beers in warm weather and heavier, darker beers in the winter.
Don’t be a douche. Let’s keep beer fun, approachable and affordable.
Mtbr giving advice to The Lung. Turns out Ned Overend is a hophead.
Josh Martino: Among Mtbr’s hundreds of beer experts, there is one man that stands above the rest. He is the Beer Sensei, as his understanding is deep and wide. He is all-knowing even though he doesn’t know it yet. His knowledge comes from his upbringing in San Diego, CA and Bend, OR and he seems to spend every waking moment tasting, buying, trading, and brewing beer.
Peter Tsang: Peter, like the rest of us are young Padawans (learners). But, he is open-minded, honest and down to earth. He can explain why a beer is good in the simplest terms and he can turn an AA meeting into a tasting session.
Editor’s Note: The next four beer guides – Top 5 Beers for the Mountain Biker, Noob, Hardcore Enthusiast Fan, and Hophead are written by Josh Martino. Among Mtbr’s hundreds of beer experts, there is one man that stands above the rest. He is the Beer Sensei, as his understanding is deep and wide. He is all-knowing even though he doesn’t know it yet. His knowledge comes from his upbringing in San Diego, CA and Bend, OR and he seems to spend every waking moment tasting, buying, trading, and brewing beer.
Mountain bikers tend to appreciate lighter bodied beers with full flavors, and they often reach for brews on the hoppy side. Below are some options that pair well with a long day in the saddle.
New Belgium Shift
A hoppy lager with a clean taste and a light body featuring fruity, citrusy hops at 5% ABV. New Belgium Shift is brewed in Fort Collins, CO and comes in 16-ounce cans which are easily packable, so you can take your Shift with you into the backcountry without the weight penalty of glass bottles. www.newbelgium.com
Ballast Point Sculpin
Another beer recently available in 12 oz. cans, Ballast Point Sculpin is a big, bold American IPA weighing in at 7% ABV. It’s brewed in San Diego, CA and features strong flavors of citrus and tropical fruit from the hops and a bright, bitter finish characteristic of San Diego IPAs. www.ballastpoint.com
Brooklyn Summer Ale
A light bodied English pale ale for those who want a clean taste without a bitter profile. Brewed in Brooklyn, NY, Summer Ale features a sweet malt backbone and a touch of dry-hops which impart a floral, fruity aroma. It’s 5% ABV and also comes in 12 oz. cans. brooklynbrewery.com
An American porter available in 12 oz. cans, Eugene is brewed by Revolution brewing in Chicago, IL. A perfect pair for those colder winter rides, Eugene clocks in at 6.8% and is a rich, robust porter showcasing toasted grain, chocolate malt and caramel flavors. revbrew.com
A hybrid concoction straddling a Belgian Witbier and an IPA, Deschutes Chainbreaker is brewed in Bend, OR. It’s also the only non-canned beer on this list. It showcases a crisp taste of orange, grapefruit, coriander and piney hops at 5.6% ABV which won’t knock you out, and makes for great post-ride refreshment. www.deschutesbrewery.com