Gear review: Canned microbrews for the outdoor enthusiast |

Gear review: Canned microbrews for the outdoor enthusiast

Few things taste as good as a cold beer after a hard climb, ski, hike or bike ride. When I’m packing my gear for an outdoor trip, there’s usually a cooler with a few cold ones.

So, while it may seem like a stretch to write about beer in a “gear review,” it makes perfect sense to me. And the news flash here is that an increasing number of craft breweries are producing fine beer in cans, which are much more user-friendly than glass bottles.

Ever carried multiple bottles in a backpack or boat? They’re noisy, heavy and require a lot of space. And, though it’s never happened to me, they can break. Not so with aluminum cans. Lightweight and collapsible after use, cans are infinitely more practical for the boatman in a desert canyon or the tired hiker in the high country.

For years, cans have been maligned as the vessel of choice for tasteless, mass-produced “macro-brews,” but this is changing, and a number of Colorado craft breweries are leading the charge.

Oskar Blues, out of Lyons, has produced its Dale’s Pale Ale in cans for years now, and that red, white and blue can has become something of an icon. A couple of years ago, New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins started putting Fat Tire in cans, and the New Belgium bigwigs said at the time that the decision was simply a function of lifestyle – the cans were easier to transport in the outdoors, to pack out and to throw away.


Durango’s Ska Brewing Company also offers 12-packs that include three of its most popular brews: True Blonde Ale, Special E.S.B and Modus Hoperandi. Big, tasty beers, and now they’re easier to take with you.

These are just a few fine breweries that have switched to cans, or added cans to their production repertoire. And I don’t mind telling you it’s improved my outdoor experience.

I’ve always liked the sound of opening an aluminum pop-top, and who can resist the fun of crushing an empty can underfoot?

Now, I’m not suggesting that I’ve hauled 12-packs into the backcountry or up remote peaks – that’s more weight than I want to carry and more beer than I can drink – but I am suggesting that a couple of cans will enhance an overnight backpack trip without weighing you down, and the trip back to the trailhead is always easier when you know there’s a cold beverage waiting in the car.

Yes, we can!

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