Significant Beer That Changed My Après Life

The beer isn’t even that fancy. But for some reason I remember them.

New Belgium Fat Tire (Fort Collins, CO)

Where I first had it:
2013, Winter Park, CO – 2 hour drive from the brewery. Visit >

The story behind it: 
It was my first time skiing in Colorado, close to six years ago. I was with my then-boyfriend, who I had met on a chairlift over a year prior. It was pretty much fate, or so I thought, back then. We spent our winter weekends skiing and summer nights at a farmhouse down the road, escaping our everyday lives for something a little more outside. I was just too lucky to hop on a plane and head west on his family ski trip.

Fat Tire was well-established by the time I got hip (I am not hip) to the beer game. New Belgium’s creator first brewed it in his basement in 1988. Twenty-five years later, I was interested in beer, but my palate wasn’t ready for IPAs and stouts. I drank amber ales and blondes and hefeweizen, mostly because I liked to say hefe-veisen at the American Hofbrauhaus chain like I knew what I was talking about (I don’t).

Four days into the trip I found myself in a dim mountain bar, then-boyfriend and his father in tow. I spent the previous 3 days struggling in the trees, trying to keep up with a friend who had moved to the state full-time and his gang. I was also busy avoiding moguls the size of VW Beatles. Over those days, it had snowed what seemed like a foot, and I got my second taste at a real powder day and my millionth taste of realizing I can’t ski for sh*t. I don’t remember much about the bar but I do remember how blown away I was by this beer. They didn’t even distribute it in Pennsylvania, yet!

I remember drinking that night and realizing that was the best beer I had EVER had, right there. Sitting at the bar, it was cold, and it was good. I’ve never had a beer that gave me the same cold deliciousness than that après ski Colorado draft gave me. Maybe it was the fresh air, but I think it was because of a little something else, too. You know that feeling, the one after you have rode your heart out? Your hair still matted to your head, a cozy warmth radiating from the inside of your body while the outside is still a little cold, your endorphins running rampant in your brain? The feeling that everyone else in the bar feels, all connected and content. I drank it in the rest of the trip.

Southern Tier Live (Lakewood, NY)

Where I first had it:
2015, Ellicotville, NY – 3 hours drive from the brewery. Visit >

The story behind it:
Fast forward a few years. Well past broken from the chair lift relationship, I went on a trip up north. It was just myself and one other, as most of my friends were busy getting married or having babies. We were the twenty-somethings that weren’t an age statistic, like those buying houses and creating families with no disposable income for frivolous, expensive things. No, no, this trip wasn’t frivolous, but we did have the broke part down pat.

We got a cheap room in town, close enough to walk or shuttle everywhere. During the day, we made pit stops around the mountain for food and drink, making friends along the way. Once the sun went down, we settled in at a bar where we gulped golden brews for dinner, chatting with mountain guests and bartenders. We spoke loud and told jokes to our neighbors, and played games with the bartender until we knew her first name.

It was the label that got me. Like every basic girl choosing her wine from the liquor store, I fled to to the vibrant colors of Live. Was it Lie-v or Lih-v? Not sure, as the question replayed in my mind and out of my mouth a few times throughout the weekend. But I felt cool as I sipped, a Beer Queen drinking something other than her throne of Bud Light, donned with a knit-hat crown in need of something refreshing. As we drank, we made friends and exchanged phone numbers. We all had something in common: the love for snow and mountains and beer.

I remember drinking that night and realizing that was the best beer I had EVER had, right there. Sitting at the bar, it was cold, and it was good. I’ve only once had a beer that gave me the same cold deliciousness that après ski New York bottle gave me. Maybe it was the fresh air, but I think it was because of a little something else, too. You know that feeling, the one after you have rode your heart out? Your hair still matted to your head, a cozy warmth radiating from the inside of your body while the outside is still a little cold, your endorphins running rampant in your brain? The feeling that everyone else in the bar feels, all connected and content. I drank it in the rest of the trip (and again when we returned with more friends that same season).

Published by Christina

Weekend warrior and micro-adventurer skiing and hiking the tri-state around my 9-to-5.

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