Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pat's Backcountry Beverage

Just finished setting up camp after an exhilarating hike under a gorgeous blue sky weather and a beautiful lake in plain view. Sprawled out by our camp and enjoying the fruits of our day's labor. Now if only my left hand (or right) is raising a nice bubbling beer to my tired-of-drinking-just-plain-water mouth. Life at the moment would be perfect.

But the beer had to be left behind. A weight sacrifice that had to be made in exchange for a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, food, blah, blah, blah and blah.

I first stumbled on Pat's Backcountry Beverage researching for ways to carry beer in my backpack. Cause I'll be honest, much as I love enjoying a good Pinot in the wilderness carried by my trusty Platypus or good ol' whiskey, rum or what-not liquor repackaged into a lighter flask, a good tasting beer is my comfort food in liquid form.

My failed tries of searching for
"pack-able" sodas
Carrying bottles was not an option. Even the thought of carrying the weight of those bottles after I have enjoyed their contents did not give reassuring joy. Plus the fact that they'd occupy so much space in a bear canister! I've considered cans, thrash-wise they were a better option. But with weight still in the factor, I'm only willing to carry 1 or 2 and they'd still take up too much in the canister! Plus, one would have to share that precious can with other beer-less hiking buds who'd be eyeing you vehemently lest you'd share a few sips of that brown ale you're enjoying. It is a long way down that cliff and then there's that deep, deep lake in front of you...

All my researching, I finally landed on Pat's Backcountry Beverage website (it looked different than how it beautifully looks now). And enjoyed much of their back story of how they ended up with their current product. It pretty much echoed all of my beer sentiments in backpacking. But on their story, they ended hiking back and heeding the call of the after-hike beers stored in their car!

After much deliberation, I took the plunge and purchased the carbonator kit from Amazon. The kit included the 1 Carbonator Bottle, 5 Activator packets and 1 foil packet of each flavor to make your own soda. They were still in the middle of getting their liquor license approved at that time, so beer sale was still on hold. That didn't deter me. I figured I'd have this carbonating thing cinched down by the time beer sales get approved.

Out of all the soda flavors included in the kit, Terra Cola, Ginger Trail, Rootbeer, Lemon Clime and PomaGranite, the Lemon Clime was an instant favorite.

It took a few tries and watching Pat's (original) video on how to use it and took it for a spin on a quick backpacking trip with the soda flavors,  before I got it down and I was ready for some beer! It was a bit of a wait that time, but made it in time for me to purchase a few for our High Sierra Trail trip.

They've got 2 different brews, the Pail Rail (a pale ale) and Black Hops (an IPA). Haven't got a chance to try the Black Hops, but the Pail Rail gets a thumbs up. After a few days and slogging in a few miles, a cold beer in the middle of the woods was nice to have.

Unlike the soda flavors, the beer concentrates are not available to purchase on their website nor at your local REI store. You'd be redirected to liquor stores in your area that carry them and can sell them retail directly to you, customers. Stopped on our way home from a camping trip in San Jacinto State Park at a Liquorama store in Upland, CA (the closest in my L.A. radius!). I had to ask for them though, since they don't put it out on the shelves. The guy who helped me out mentioned it was rare or I may be the first to ask for it, as they mostly fill up online orders of it.

I love how the sodas and beer concentrates come in little foil packets shaped like a bottle. They can perfectly fit to squish into available spaces inside the bear canister. Big plus! They're also small enough to secretly stash in you buddy's backpack and have it completely undetected! Another plus to be able to bring more!

Pat's Backcountry Beverage definitely earned its weight and space in my backpack!

Note: Please don't get into a drunken stupor in the back country. Dehydration is your big enemy!

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