The Ten Best Canned Beers for Hikers

Upgrade your next trip with one of these tasty, trail-friendly brews.
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Upgrade your next trip with one of these tasty, trail-friendly brews.
 Photo by Christopher Chad Brigman

Photo by Christopher Chad Brigman

Is there a better pairing than a beautiful view and a good brew? We don’t think so. And when it comes to lugging beer into the backcountry, cans are still king. They don’t break like bottles, they’re smaller and lighter than growlers, and (depending on who you ask) they can leave a smaller environmental footprint than glass. There are now more than six hundred craft breweries across the country that can their beer, so if you haven’t found something you like, you’re just not trying hard enough. The following beers aren’t just perfect for packing in: The breweries that make them care as much about outdoor adventure as you do.

backpacker-oskarblues

Ten Fidy

Oskar Blues
Longmont, Colorado

The first craft brewery to can its beer, Oskar Blues now brews not just in Colorado but in North Carolina and Texas as well. It also distributes in all fifty states, which means everyone has access to Ten Fidy, one of the best imperial stouts in the country and one of the few that comes in a can. At 10 percent ABV, you will really only need one on an overnight anyway: It will keep you just as warm on the inside as your down jacket does on the outside. If that’s not enough to convince you, Oskar Blues donates hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to outdoor causes, like trail maintenance and outdoor education for youth.

perfect-day

Perfect Day IPA

Asheville Brewing
Asheville, North Carolina

You’ll find some of the best hiking in the nation in the mist-dripping mountains of North Carolina, and some of the best beer as well. Asheville Brewing, located in the state’s foremost beer town and gateway to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, is one of the oldest breweries in town and turns out some perfect beers for the trail, including Perfect Day IPA, a 6.5 percent award winner packed with Citra and El Dorado hops. As they say on the can,‘Carpe Perfect Dayum!’”

sierra-nevada

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada
Chico, California

Founded in 1979, Sierra Nevada is one of the oldest craft brewers in the nation and its sustainable business practices are legendary—from its massive solar array, composting program and biogas-powered microturbines to its Leed certification and landfill diversion efforts. But when it comes to nature, the truth is that no can in the country looks better cooling off streamside that those little green pale ales. From coast to coast, desert floor to fourteener, you’ll find just as many cans of pale ale in packs as you will carbon-fiber trekking poles—and with good reason.

backpacker-creature-comforts

Athena

Creature Comforts
Athens, Georgia

Sometimes, you need a little comfort on the trail -- something that the Creature Comforts brewery in hip Athens knows well. The Athena Berliner Weisse is a flavor-packed gem, and perfect for cleaning up a dusty throat. This style of wheat beer is typically tart, crisp and refreshing—almost like sparking water. Brewed at only 4.5 percent ABV, it offers complex notes of grapefruit and sauvignon blanc.

backpacker-brooklyn-brewery

Brooklyn Lager

Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn, New York

Brooklyn Brewery is located in densely populated Williamsburg—not exactly Trail Town USA. But that doesn’t mean the company isn’t thinking about what’s beyond the limits of the borough. Exhibit A: Brooklyn Brewery’s “green team,” a group of employees who constantly look for new ways to make the operation more energy efficient and environmentally sound. In 2016, for instance, the brewery teamed up with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant 375 acres worth of trees in order to offset 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide the brewery produced in Brooklyn. The beer has also set a standard for years, and although Brooklyn Lager is one of the lightest on the flavor wheel, it is also a nice beer to have along when you just want something gentle, cold and refreshing.

backpacker-newbelgium

Dayblazer Easygoing Ale

New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, Colorado

Founded in 1991, New Belgium Brewing has a long history of progressive policies, from an on-site doctor and employee ownership to its certification as a bicycle-friendly business and a multi-million dollar commitment to environmental nonprofits. In 2012, the brewery even conducted a study to evaluate the environmental impacts of using glass versus aluminum for packaging beer (the results were inconclusive). At the end of 2016, the brewery overhauled a significant portion of its lineup. Spokesman Bryan Simpson recommends one of the new offerings: Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, which comes in New Belgium’s first 24-ounce can. The large format and shareability mean you only have to pack one (put a small freezer bag in your pack to keep it cold), making it “ideal for a small group toast, he says. With 4.8 percent alcohol by volume, “you’re not staggering back home,” he adds.

backpacker-melvin

2X4 DIPA

Melvin Brewing
Alpine, Wyoming

Melvin Brewing got its start at Thai Me Up Restaurant and Brewery in Jackson, Wyoming, a scant few miles from Grand Teton National Park. Now located in nearby Alpine, Melvin makes bold beers imbued with a wild west feel. Melvin’s bold 10 percent ABV 2x4 Double IPA is a beer to match the nearby mountains: A multiple medal winner, it is packed with massive amounts of hops that are an adventure in themselves.

backpacker-hopworks

Gear Up IPA

Hopworks Urban Brewery
Portland, Oregon

Known for its bicycle-themed brewery and beers, Hopworks Urban Brewery’s staff and clientele also enjoy every other kind of outdoor activity that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. The brewery created Gear Up IPA using all local ingredients, including organic barley and hops grown in Washington and Oregon. The can artwork on this classic Northwest-style IPA is evocative too, with images of trees, mountains, and nearly hidden images of outdoor gear, like skis and a pen knife.

backpacker-long-trail

Long Trail Ale

Long Trail Brewery
Bridgewater Corners, Vermont

The Long Trail runs the length of Vermont, from the Canadian border south for 272 miles to the Massachusetts state line. Created a century ago, the system traverses the Green Mountains and is dotted with side trails and campsites. Long Trail Brewing, founded in 1989, took its name, and the name of its flagship beer, from these hiking trails. At 5 percent ABV, this Great American Beer Festival award winner is a German alt-style amber ale and a satisfying quencher after a day outside.

backpacker-fat-heads

Trail Head Pale Ale

Fat Head’s Brewery
Middleburg Heights, Ohio

Just what it says on the can: Trail Head Pale Ale was brewed to get beer lovers off the couch and into the fresh air. Fat Head’s, which took home five medals at the Great American Beer Festival in October 2016, created this beer to benefit the Cleveland Metroparks Trails Fund, which helps maintain more than 270 miles of trails in and around Cleveland, Ohio. Brewed with four kinds of hops, you’ll be doing the trail and youself a favor by cracking a few open.