A man hiking in the woods

Camping with craft beer

Courtesy Microsoft Image Gallery

The weather is warming up and Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, which reminds me to start packing for my annual camping trip. It’s just a weekend, and I like to pack light, especially knowing I’ll be spending my days hiking through the waterfall-ridden Letchworth State Park.

As I’m packing supplies, I can’t help but smile at the small collection of craft beer that holds a special place in the trunk, tucked safely between pillows and sleeping bags. I start thinking how nice it would be to enjoy a cold one at the peak of my hike but frown at the thought of toting anything more in my pack.

Enter Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, which has developed a process to brew beer concentrate, meaning that I can pack a pouch of the concentrate and a pint’s worth of seltzer, and when I’m ready to imbibe, all it takes is a little mixing and Voila! Fresh ale.

The process begins like any other ale, by boiling water and malt to create wort, then cooling and adding yeast to ferment it. The concentrate is created at this point. Instead of adding water, the mixture is vacuum-distilled, reserving the ethanol and leaving behind a syrup, which is then fermented again and the process is repeated a total of four times. Hops are added to the reserved ethanol before adding it to the syrup. The final product is 10 times stronger than beer.

Is a pouch and seltzer really different than just carrying around a couple bottles? Depends on how you look at it. If I use a carbonator bottle, I don’t have to worry about geyser-like reactions when I open a bottle after it’s been sloshing around in my pack for a couple of hours. Fresh bubbles mean my beer will be super-fresh. And the carbonator bottle is reusable, so I’m producing less waste. Such a small change in behavior seems totally appropriate when I’m completely immersed in the wondrous beauty of this Good Green Earth.