Summit Beers: Tips for Packing Beers for Hikes

What are summit beers?

Going on hikes and backpacking trips are some of my favorite hobbies. Granted, there are people in my life who are way more knowledgeable about these things that usually do the logistical planning, but where I really shine is picking the perfect summit beers to enjoy at whatever peak we’re working towards. 

What are summit beers? The beers you pack in and out with you to enjoy when you reach your summit.

Note: Summit beers are much different from what I’ve coined “Trailhead Beers” - the brews you open as soon as you start your hike. I’ve only cracked trailhead beers a handful of times, and trust me when I say if you do the same, expect to feel pretty awful as soon as you hit any serious vert.

In all seriousness, there are few things like making your way up a mountain and breaking into a delicious, cold beer at the summit. Since I’m kind of a pro at this, I figured I’d share some basic tips for packing in beers and give you some of my favorites. On top of that, I chatted to a few Instagram friends who are big into hiking to find out what some of their favorite summit beers are. 

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Tips for packing beer for hikes

I find it’s best to do your beer shopping a day or so before your hike. That way you’re not having to squeeze in a beer run in the morning before you hit the trailhead, and so that your beers are nice and cold and ready to go the day of your hike. 

What beers to choose for a hike

  1. I always recommend cans whenever possible - Not only do you avoid glass, but canned beer actually gets cold faster and stays colder longer.
  2. Avoid high ABV beers - This is only for basic safety. Believe me, I’ve had some boozy beers on shorter, easier hikes (link here), but it’s better to err on the side of caution to make sure you’re not stumbling down the mountain (which I’ve definitely done) 
  3. Tallboys (16 oz. cans) are a great choice - The only thing better than two or three 12 ounce cans are two or three 16 ounce cans, duh. 
  4. Avoid really “heavy beers” - This is probably obvious, but I’ve learned from experience that cracking open stouts or barleywines on the summit doesn’t offer the same “refreshing factor” that other lighter beers do. I find pales, IPAs, IPLs, Pilsners, Lagers, and similar styles are more conducive. 
  5. If you’re traveling, find something local - This is one of my favorite things to do. If you’re in a new or unfamiliar area, find some local beer you want to try and pack that in. There’s something fun about trying a beer for the first time on top of a mountain. 

Prepping beers for your hike

  • Shop the day before - You'll thank yourself in the morning. Don't forget to put your beer in the fridge along with any of your ice packs 
  • Have a bandana, hand towels, or something you can wrap the beers in handy - Believe it or not this does wonders keeping beer cold longer. If you can, pack the beer at the bottom of your pack and insulate it with other items to prevent them from moving around and to keep them colder longer. 
  • Plastic bags can be a big help, too - If something does happen to your beer, it’s better to have them in a plastic bag to suds from spilling on your gear. 
  • Pack a little bit extra if you can - For more casual hikes where you're not worried about weight, pack in one more beer than you think you need. It's nice having extra on hand for you or others in your party.
  • Bring plenty of water - You should do this anyway, but remember beer will dehydrate you so take that into account when you prep. 

Preparing Summit Beers


Favorite summit beers

My recommendations

I thought it would be fun to share some of my own personal favorite summit beers as well as ask a few friends from Instagram what theirs were. Here are some recommendations. 

Pseudo Sue from Toppling Goliath

This pale ale is delicious, crisp, refreshing, and comes in a can. It’s not going to knock you on your ass but it has a ton of flavor. 

DDH Pliny The Elder from Russian River

Yes, it’s hard to get but there’s nothing like getting Pliny in a can. Just remember it’s 8% so don’t go too wild or you’ll be tumbling back down. 

Something local! SR-16 from Crooked Lane

This is a bit of a cop-out, but as I said, if I’m traveling somewhere new I love to grab a few local cans and bring them to the summit. Here's a local beer I had for the first time when I moved up to Tahoe.

I talked to some friends who are into packing in summit beers, and was able to get some of their favorites as well!

Recommendations from Max Ceja AKA BeerHikeChill

These are just a couple of his favorites summit beers. Check him out on Instagram to see more as well as some stunning photos. 

Purple Robots from Homage Brewing

"I love artistic beers. Not only is this beautiful bottle perfect for photographs, but it’s one of the most delicious beers out of Homage Brewing. They’ve mastered the art of crushable saisons. Easy to drink and refreshing."

Ivy from Xül Beer Company

"I started off drinking Xül sour beers but quickly found out their haze game is top notch. There’s nothing worse than getting to a summit after a sweaty and long hike only to find your hazy is disgusting. Xül has never disappointed here so I’m always happy to bring their cans on my hikes."

Recommendations from Shawn Musial AKA TheHopHiker

Shawn also shared some of his favorite summit beers too. Check out his IG profile here for more. 


Summit beers are the best beers, and there's nothing like sharing them on top of a mountain with your friends. Got any favorites or suggestions for me to try? Let me know!