Significant Beer That Changed My Après Life

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).

Hidden Valley Review: F.A.M.I.L.Y.

Hidden Valley Review: F.A.M.I.L.Y.

Hidden Valley. Those familiar with this area and involved in winter sports will hear that this is the place for families and kids to go. And that word is right. My mom told stories of me starting here, hanging on to my moms hands at three, throwing the biggest pizza I could. And I remember at 10 or 12, hopping through the trees, and chasing my friends down Stingray, beyond terrified. Always the hesitant one – it’s what made me a better skier. It could have also been the instruction; my mother always made me take a lesson at the beginning of the season.

 

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At Hidden Valley, I built my skiing foundation, learned what “apres” with friends and family meant and skied my first “black diamonds” here. Hidden Valley is perfect for groups with young children that are just learning or yearning for independence away from Mom and Dad. A pair of walkie-talkies reach just fine (okay, cellphones now). “10-4 Good Buddy!”

In short, it’s pretty easy to see:

Fun for young pre-teens learning to tear up the slopes without parents pulling the helicopter move

Always some of the best snowmaking capabilities around – if it’s early in the season, they have coverage

My craving for some turns in the snow was pleasantly met, it has a nice variety of terrain although easier

I was alone, but friendly locals were always willing to chat on the lift

Love the short lines and easy access to every slope (learn to skate to get to the North Face, though!)

You should bring your entire family here!

Trail Map

Hidden Valley Resort Trail Map

Final thoughts

Mountain 1 of 3 included in the Highlands Pass, this is a nice ski area to get some runs in for less. Price conscious skiers and snowboarders should choose Hidden Valley over Seven Springs. Despite the beginner slopes, there is nice terrain and less crowds.. and that will always put a smile on your face. 

Visit hiddenvalleyresort.com >