Anyone who has ever hit the slopes knows one of the highlights of a day on the hill is the après ski scene. There’s nothing like gathering with friends and sharing stories of your trip through Shredwood Forest while tossing back cold ones. Whether you’re bellying up to the bar or relaxing in an Adirondack chair made of old skis on a deck overlooking the mountain, that first brew is always the best of the day.
So of course you want to get that order right. But with all the craft brews flooding the marketplace, choosing the perfect one can be a daunting task. So we spanned the USA for recommendations from excellent après ski bars in some of the greatest mountain towns around.
Read on and you’ll never go wrong… off the slopes. Whether you decide to pull a mute grab over that cliff drop earlier in the day is up to you.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Locals know the Mangy Moose is the place to be for après ski. It consistently ranks as one of the top 10 après bars in North America, which goes nicely with a truly top-notch resort. And the local go-to brew is Snake River Lager. During the height of the ski season, the bar runs through an impressive 28 kegs of it in two days. What makes this rich, caramel Vienna-style lager so popular? “It’s a local beer and it tastes amazing,” says bar manager Katelyn James. Hard to argue with that logic. Order one or three.
As the home mountain of Burton Snowboards, Stowe has cred to spare, and for the name alone, family-owned pizzeria Piecasso is worth hitting up. General manager George Sparker raved about several local favorites, including Hill Farmstead Brewery’s Edward American Pale Ale, Lost Nation Brewery’s Gose and Alchemist Brewery’s infamous Heady Topper double IPA. But the top seller is Switchback Ale. “Extremely approachable, not too malty, not too hoppy, and they brew enough that you can actually get it,” Sparker notes. And at 5 percent ABV, “you can have three of them and not fall over.” That’s a definite plus if you plan on making it back to the mountain tomorrow.
Park City, Utah
The must-visit spot in Park City is No Name Saloon and Grill, which has been “helping people forget their names since 1903.” The always-classy PBR is their top-selling draft. However, the preferred craft beer is Cutthroat Pale Ale from Uinta Brewing Company in Salt Lake City. The cutthroat is the state fish, but we doubt that’s the reason. “People just want local on draft,” says bartender Terrin Fieldsted. The full malt body and hoppy finish don’t hurt, either.
Another perennial top après bar, 39 Degrees Lounge has been lauded by USA Today and Playboy, among others. With a heated pool, hot tub and poolside bar, it’s a little higher on the swank scale. (It is Aspen, after all.) Still, rep Courtney Lis says the bar is “focused on providing a local, authentic experience,” and stocks quite a few local beers including Aspen Brewing Company’s IPA or Blonde, Roaring Fork Brewing Company’s Freestone Extra Pale Ale and Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale. All are worth a try.
Mammoth Mountain, California|
Clocktower Cellar in Mammoth’s Alpenhoff Lodge is renowned for its extensive beer list. But locally speaking, the go-to beers are June Lakes Brewery Hutte IPA and Mammoth Lakes Double Nut Brown Porter, which won gold at the 2012 World Beer Cup, says bartender Ryan Ellis. The latter is dark and rich, featuring coffee and chocolate notes, and the brewers would like you to know that “no nuts were harmed or used during the brewing of this beer.”
Host of 27 US Opens, Stratton boasts some of the east coast’s best slopes. New to the apres scene is the Firetower Restaurant & Tavern, which serves nothing but local Vermont craft beers on tap. Some are very much in demand. “We have to fight to get Zero Gravity Conehead Wheat IPA,” says owner Peter Micioni. With a 90 percent rating from Beer Advocate, that’s no surprise. Quote the brewer: “Completely satisfyingly awesome in its crispiness and well-rounded hopaliciousness. This beer might just be your Rushmore.” Only one way to find out…