There’s something about a beer after a long day in the mountains. There’s something so special about it that when Pat Tatera and his buddy realized they’d left the beer they bought at a local brewery back in the car, they left their scenic wilderness campsite, and hiked back to the car, where they enjoyed a beer and set up camp. For the next 15 years, Pat worked on creating a packable beer that he wouldn’t forget on an adventure. He created what is now Pat’s Backcountry Beverages — an ingenious system for packing beer into the backcountry. Pat started the company in Talkeetna, Alaska in 2008. He watched his friends who worked as bush pilots and guides load clients into small planes for hunting or exploring trips. When they left, there was always one thing remaining on the dock—the cases of beer they had stocked up on ahead of time, but were too heavy for the plane. Every time Pat saw the scene play out, it reassured him that if he could find a lightweight method to take beer on trips, people would buy it. Pat created a hybrid brewing technology. It allows brewers to create a nearly waterless concentrate with all the flavor and alcohol of a microbrew, that can be later mixed with carbonated water. After years of perfecting his design, Pat started selling backcountry beer concentrates this last January, and his company is now based in Colorado. Climbers have imbibed Pat’s brews from the top of the highest peak in Antarctica, on multi-day trips into the Grand Canyon and while exploring the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal. Pat’s Backcountry Beverages features two brews you can easily hike around with: the Black Hops IPA and the 1919 Pale Rail, a pale ale. These beers weigh 90 percent less than a 12 ounce can, but still pack a 6.1 percent ABV for the IPA, and a 5.2 percent ABV for the pale ale when mixed. After a tough day of travel, your body craves the carbs, but really there’s just something about beer, said Scott Kinsey, vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s a way to come together in celebration at the end of the day,” he said. “It’s camaraderie. It’s the way to discuss the day and recap and relax. For some reason, that’s the age old way of celebrating. A shot is brutal and too fast.” The concentrate, which has an alcohol content higher than whiskey until water is added, doesn’t freeze, or expire. “So you don’t have to worry about it freezing on a cold expedition or going bad during a zombie apocalypse,” Scott said. It’s also extremely energy efficient, using water sourced on the spot. The bottle is reusable, making it unnecessary to pack out aluminum cans or beer bottles. “It may be the greenest beer on the planet,” Scott said. Pat wanted to launch the company with boutique beers, partly because that’s the type of beer he likes to drink, but also because he wanted to show that the process worked with any type of beer. “We’re brewing pale ales and black IPAs,” Scott said. “If you are a fan of that kind of beer, we think you’ll be a fan of ours.” The company plans to launch a new flavor in 2015, but are keeping the specifics a secret. Pat's Backcountry Beverages also offers a line of soda concentrates including cola, lemon-lime and root beer. So the kids get their trail treat too.
How Pat's Backcountry Beverages workYou add water to the brew concentrate using a portable carbonator the size of a Nalgene bottle, which can also be used as a water bottle during the day. It weighs about 9 ounces and is BPA free, shatterproof and contains a blue reaction cup. Once you set up camp, fill the bottle, add the concentrate and shake. Then unscrew the bottom of the bottle—it acts as a ready cup—sit back, relax and have a beer.
How Pat's Backcountry Beverages taste:Here at the Garage Grown Gear headquarters, we handed a few unsuspecting guests samples of Pat’s Black Hops IPA and Pale Rail. The results were surprising, but not unexpected: “This is a really good-tasting beer,” said one taste tester. “I never would have guessed this came from concentrate,” said another one of our beer connoisseurs. Indeed, we found that both of Pat’s available brews taste just like something you’d get in a can, or would order off the tap at a bar. Both brews feature a nutty flavor, and the Black Hops tastes subtly of chocolate—a delicious stout, in our opinion. Once our taste testers learned of their beer’s origination, they unanimously exclaimed they would happily drink either brew after a long day in the backcountry, or even at home. Their only critique involved the bubbliness of the beverage. “The carbonation isn’t exactly the same as what you’d taste in a typical beer, but only slightly,” said one of our reviewers.
The final word on Pat's Backcountry BeveragesPros:
- Tastes like an actual good microbrew.
- Easy to make, just add carbonated water in the frontcountry or use Pat's carbonator system in the backcountry.
- A seriously lightweight option for carrying beer into the backcountry.
- Requires a 10-minute process using the carbonator system
- The carbonation tastes slightly different from a bottled or canned microbrew.