From the Bavarian brews of the Alps to the craft ales of Colorado, Alpine skiing and beer have a long-entangled history. While you might expect the warmth of mulled cider or a hot toddy to take center stage after a day in sub-zero temperatures, it’s beer that gets the ardor of skiers and snowboarders.

On the way up to Sugarloaf, the marquee for the now-shuttered Nostalgia Tavern reads “SEE UR BREWERY HERE.” It’s a clever bit of advertising for the vacant spot, and speaks to the ties between winter warriors and the beer scene. As close as that spot on Route 27 is to the resort, a number of other brewers are even closer to slopeside.

Lost Valley boasts a brewery within its base lodge, while Sunday River Brewing Company is at the foot of Sunday River Road. The Bag and Kettle, a long-running brewpub, is a hundred yards from the base of the Superquad and Double Runner chairs at Sugarloaf. Sunday River and Sugarloaf are also both home to a Shipyard Brew Haus, in White Cap Lodge and the Sugarloaf Inn, respectively.

One of the newest examples of beer/skiing symbiosis in Maine is the Oxbow Beer Garden, opened by Oxbow Brewing Company last spring.

Orono Brewing Company brewed their Widowmaker IPA to celebrate the reopening of the Widowmaker, a popular bar in Sugarloaf’s base lodge. Photo by Josh Christie

Specific beers with close ties to downhill skiing also abound in Maine. This winter, Rising Tide Brewing Company collaborated with Sugarloaf to brew Mosaic, an IPA celebrating winter with can art featuring photos of their team’s winter adventures. This joins their Mountainside IPA, which they describe as a “perfect companion for all of your mountainside adventures.” Orono Brewing Company brewed their Widowmaker IPA to celebrate the reopening of the Widowmaker, a popular bar in Sugarloaf’s base lodge. Tumbledown Brewing’s Dawn Patrol Coffee Porter is a tribute to those who aim for early tracks and first chair, with a can sporting a pair of ski tracks through powder. The 32nd annual Sugarloaf Reggaefest is this April, and Baxter Brewing’s Road to Reggae ties into that event.

And, of course, the beers produced by mountainside brewers all tend to tie back to the sport in some way. At The Bag, there’s Ripsaw Red and Backcountry Blueberry, while Lost Valley has Bullwheel Chair 7 Galaxy Smash IPA, Double Otterslide IPA, Beaver Brown Ale and Base Lodge Blueberry. Sunday River Brewing’s beers don’t tie quite as directly back to trail names, but Ski Town Brown, Mountain Mamma IPA and Sunday River Alt nod pretty clearly back to the mountains.

As the popularity of local craft beer has grown in Maine, its place on mountain menus has expanded as well. While bars used to have handles upon handles of light, mass-produced lagers with maybe one or two local options, there are now plenty of on-mountain spots where craft beer vastly outnumbers macro. At the Loose Boots Lounge at Mt. Abram, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of options, almost all from here in the state. Blizzards Pub at Shawnee similarly impresses, with plentiful options from nearby Portland. And, at the Last Run Pub at Black Mountain, you can tip back a Maine beer while rubbing elbows with the Angry Beavers, a local group that clears out the mountain’s glades.

And, if you’re new to the scene or just looking to sample some local beer on a ski weekend, you’re covered this spring. On March 28, Sunday River hosts the Maine Brew Fest in the Mahoosuc Room in South Ridge Lodge, from 7 to 10 p.m. The event promises over 100 beers and ciders to sample, along with live music before the fest and a chili cook-off the following day. About two dozen participating Maine breweries have already been announced, with more to come. A $45 ticket gets you a tasting glass and samples during the three-hour event.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:

[email protected]


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