10 Beer Towns with a Mountain Biking Problem

Beer–more specifically, craft beer–and mountain biking are almost synonymous today. It’s quite common to see spandex-clad, sweat-soaked, smiling bikers sipping a cold brew as a post ride “recovery drink.” Well, “recovery drink” may be a bit of a stretch, but there’s nothing more rewarding after a hard, punishing ride than a good, cold beer. Besides, you have to rehydrate somehow, and beer wins over gatorade every time.

Quite possibly the most appropriate beer for the Singletracks writers. Photo by: Boulder Beer

Quite possibly the most appropriate beer for the Singletracks writers. Photo: Boulder Beer

Bikes and brews, they go hand in hand. So much so that numerous mainstream craft brewers have named their creations after trails and bikes… as if we needed more motivation to drink beer. There’s nothing like shredding some singletrack, and then knocking back a “Singletrack.”

But bikers drinking beer isn’t a one-way street. It turns out that many in the beer business actually do enjoy biking as well. In fact, back in 2012 the craft brewery Oskar Blues from Lyons, CO opened up a second brewery in Brevard, NC, just outside of Asheville. One of the main reasons for choosing the Brevard/Asheville region was that they wanted a location that could provide great mountain biking for their employees (from a recent NPR article). A brewery after my own heart!

A clever approach for hauling a 6 pack, though you may want to steer clear of rock gardens

A clever approach for hauling a 6 pack, though you may want to steer clear of rock gardens

On a mountain biking road trip with my husband a couple of years ago, our favorite stops were towns where we spent the entire day shredding singletrack and the evening grabbing grub and beer at local breweries. It got me thinking: beer and mountain biking are incredibly intertwined, so what would be some of the best locations for partaking in both? I have compiled a list that, at least for me, offers the best of both worlds.

My criteria for this list is that each town/city must have 10 breweries listed in the craftbeer.com database and 10 recognized, listed trails here in the Singletracks.com database. To make it even more prestigious, there must be at least one winner from the World Beer Cup (the Olympics of the beer industry that has entries from across the world, not just the US) and one trail that makes the top ten list for the entire state.

As a caveat, I am not a huge fan of major metropolis regions. There’s nothing worse than hanging up the bike in the afternoon, fully exhausted, only to sit in gridlock en route to dinner and beer. As such, major areas that may offer both (ahem, most of California) have been left off the list. If swarms of people are your thing, then feel free to list your favorite population-suffocating destinations in the comments below.

In no specific order:

Bend, Oregon

12 breweries with over 40 listed mountain biking trails.

Farewell Trail in Bend. Photo by: Mtbgreg1

Farewell Trail in Bend. Rider: Mtbgreg1

Bend offers a wide range of trails with gorgeous views in a quaint mountain town. If its winter wasn’t, well, winter-ish, I would definitely consider Bend as a potential town to live in. It is an extremely cute town, with great charm, and great biking and beer. Overall, the town is fun, and offers some rather unique opportunities like the Cycle Pub, where you can legally bike and drink with a dozen of your friends while getting a tour of the town.

And if you make it to Bend, be sure to check out some of the 2014 World Beer Cup Winners:

  • Gold: 10 Barrel Brewing Co. – “Cucumber Crush”
  • Bronze: Bend Brewing Co. – “Ching Ching”

Trails rated in the top ten for Oregon in Bend: Phil’s Area, Crater Rim Trail, Tiddlywinks, and Funner.

Boise, Idaho

10 Breweries, over 20 trails.

Shafer Butte Trails, Boise. Photo by: jkldouglas

Shafer Butte Trails, Boise. Photo by: jkldouglas

The majority of the trails I have ridden in Boise were more of the intermediate level, but quite fun. The Shafer Butte Trails at Bogus Basin offered spectacular views of the landscape. The city even has the Boise Ale Trail, featuring some of their best breweries: Tablerock brewery and Sockeye brewery.

2014 World Beer Cup Winner:

  • Bronze: 10 Barrel Brewing Co. (satellite brewery from Bend in Boise) – “Power to the People”

Idaho’s top ten trail located in Boise: Shane’s Loop.

Asheville, North Carolina

24 breweries, but almost 40 within a short driving distance, and almost 20 listed trails in town.

Bent Creek, Asheville. Photo by: mtbgreg1

Bent Creek, Asheville. Photo by: mtbgreg1

Asheville has an up-and-coming craft brewery scene. As if two dozen breweries doesn’t quite garner the status of legitimate yet, expect even more breweries to be popping up in this town. If almost 20 trails in town doesn’t quite satisfy your thirst for singletrack, Brevard (a top 10 mountain bike destination) is a short drive away with even more trails and a couple more breweries.

2014 World Beer Cup winners:

  • Gold: Asheville Brewing Co. – “Ninja”
  • Bronze: Wicked Weed Brewing – “Tyrant Double Red”

Top ten rated trail for North Carolina located in Asheville: Bent Creek.

Park City / Salt Lake City, Utah

Bike in Park City and drink in Salt Lake City. 10 breweries in Salt Lake and well over 50 trails in Park City.

Looking down on Park City from the Mid-Mountain Trail. Photo: dardoin

Looking down on Park City from the Mid-Mountain Trail. Photo: dardoin

While I haven’t personally travelled to Park City, this is at the top of my list of places I want to visit. I am beginning to believe that Park City was built solely for the purpose of providing mountain bikers with a playground! There is no shortage of singletrack to tackle, and just enough breweries in Salt Lake to make the trip worthwhile. Also rated as a top 10 mountain bike destination in North America, you can get more information on Park City here.

2014 World Beer Cup winners:

  • Gold: Redrock Brewery – “Redrock Paardebloem”
  • Bronze: Uinta Brewing Co. – “Bristlecone”

Trails rated in the top ten for Utah located in Park City/Salt Lake City: PCMR and Old Town AreaMid-MountainDeer Valley Area, and Wasatch Crest.

Charlotte, North Carolina

8 breweries in the city limits with 2 more just a couple of miles north of town, along with 10 trails.

USNWC trail in Charlotte. Photo by: EZ-E

USNWC trail in Charlotte. Photo by: EZ-E

Charlotte, NC may be a little bit of a stretch in this list, as there are only 8 breweries in the city limits and this is one of the largest population centers featured, but I would be remiss not to include it. Though a bit large, this city still offers a lot of southern hospitality, great singletrack, and awesome brews.

2014 World Beer Cup Winner:

  • Gold: Hop, Drop ‘N Roll, NoDa Brewing Co.

Top ten trails for North Carolina located in Charlotte: Sherman Branch ParkPark Road Backyard Trails.

New Mexico

There aren’t many towns with dense population in New Mexico, which is why I was tempted to lump these two together. However, they each have enough merit to stand on their own. Though if you’re in the area for either one, you might as well drive 45 minutes to check out the other and double your fun. Both offer fantastic high desert terrain with a plethora of technical trails to ride. They offer everything from super rocky trails to sweet, smooth downhill. Albuquerque and Santa Fe also have a lot of Southwest charm that is hard to find elsewhere. Play your cards right, and you might even stumble across the elusive green chili beer on tap.

Albuquerque

13 breweries and about 15 trails in town.

View of the Sandia Mountains from the Foothills trail system. Photo by: jkldouglas

View of the Sandia Mountains from the Foothills trail system. Photo by: jkldouglas

Albuquerque just recently made the list as a top 10 mountain bike city in North America. Albuquerque offers a great deal of intermediate to expert-level trails, so if rocky terrain and cacti are your forte, then make sure to check out the Manzanita mountains. Additionally, breweries are continuously popping up in Albuquerque, making this a must on a beer/bike tour.

2014 World Beer Cup winners:

  • Gold: Marble Brewery – “Pilsner”
  • Silver: Il Vicino Brewing Co. – “Panama Joe’s Coffee Stout”
  • Silver: Cazuelas Mexican Grill and Brewpub – “Beer for my Horses”

Trails rated in the top ten for New Mexico located in Albuquerque: White Mesa and King of the Mountain.

Santa Fe

10 breweries and at least 10 trails.

Atalaya Mountain, Santa Fe. Photo by: ckdake

Atalaya Mountain, Santa Fe. Photo by: ckdake

Santa Fe is on the list as a top 10 mountain bike destination in North America, and for good reason. This sleepy art town offers a great deal on top of fantastic singletrack with spectacular views. It’s considered a bit of a foodie scene, has a great deal of history (the oldest capital city in the U.S.), with a fusion of Native American and cowboy southwest flare. Enjoy a carne asada burrito with a fresh green chili brew after shuttling Winsor. When asked if you want your burrito smothered, opt for “Christmas,” the red and green chili combo will not disappoint.

Though Santa Fe hasn’t brought home any medals from the 2012 or 2014 World Beer Cup, there was a good showing at the 2010 World Beer Cup by Santa Fe Brewing Co.

  • Bronze: Santa Fe Brewing Co. – “State Pen Porter”
  • Bronze: Santa Fe Brewing Co. – “Wild Ale #4″

Trails rated in the top ten for New Mexico located in Santa Fe: Winsor.

Colorado

Beer and Colorado go hand in hand. Heck, they even host the Great American Beer Festival every year. Since it’s pretty difficult to tell where most of the towns outside of Denver stop and Denver city limits begin due to urban sprawl, I almost considered putting these into one listing, but technically they are separate towns. Additionally, these three break one of my rules, in that none of them have trails with a top ten designation. However, it’s Colorado, and there are a million trails, so even making the top 50 is pretty respectable.

Fort Collins 

31 breweries, and almost 30 listed trails.

Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins. Photo: Justin70.

Horsetooth Mountain Park, Fort Collins. Photo: Justin70.

There are no shortage of trails or breweries in Fort Collins. In fact, you could almost hit a brewery for every trail you ride in the town (anyone care to take on this epic challenge?).

2014 World Beer Cup Winners:

  • Gold: Odell Brewing Co. – “Runoff”
  • Silver: Funkwerks – “Deceit”

Highest-rated trails in Fort Collins: Horsetooth Mountain Park and White Pine Mountain.

Boulder 

26 breweries, over a dozen listed trails, but dozens more within a short driving distance.

Valmont Bike Park, Boulder. Photo: Guest.

Valmont Bike Park, Boulder. Photo: Guest.

Boulder is only about an hour from Fort Collins, but it offers almost as many breweries with just as gorgeous scenery. There aren’t quite as many trails listed within city limits, but there are several more within a short drive from Boulder, though a two-to-one ratio of breweries to trails is not necessarily a negative mark.

2014 World Beer Cup Winners:

  • Gold: Boulder Beer Co. – “Shake Chocolate Porter”
  • Gold: Twisted Pine Brewing Co. – “Big Shot Espresso Stout”

Highest-rated trails near Boulder: Hall Ranch and Valmont Bike Park

Colorado Springs

15 breweries, over 30 listed trails.

Barr Trail / Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs. Photo: JJonas

Barr Trail / Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs. Photo: JJonas

Home of the Air Force Academy and Garden of the Gods, this gorgeous town (a top 10 mountain bike city) is nestled against the mountains. There is a vast range of trails, both for terrain and technical level. Most of the breweries are small craft brewers, but that’s even more of a reason to check them all out!

2014 World Beer Cup winner:

  • Bronze: Red Leg Brewing Co. – “Devil Dog Stout”

Highest-rated trails in Colorado Springs: Barr Trail on Pike’s Peak, Falcon Trail, Palmer Park, and Captain Jack’s.

Runner-Up: Portland, Maine

No, not the hip, fixie-infested Portland, Oregon. The quiant little town of Portland, Maine just barely fell short of making the top ten, as it only has 9 breweries and 6 trails within city limits. Though if you are willing to “suffer” through a very short drive for beer and singletrack, it easily makes the list.

"Stunts" in Portland, Maine. Photo by: mbeaven

“Stunts” in Portland, Maine. Photo by: mbeaven

2012 World Beer Cup Winners:

  • Gold: Allagash Brewing Co. – “Allagash White”
  • Silver: Allagash Brewing Co. – “Mattina Rossa”

Top ten trails for Maine located in Portland: River Trance and Stunts.

Your turn: What cities/towns would you suggest as a destination trip that offer great singletrack and breweries?

23 thoughts on “10 Beer Towns with a Mountain Biking Problem

  1. Judging by the Facebook comments, there are even more great beer towns out there! According to the Brewers Association, there were about 2,800 craft breweries in the US in 2013 which means there is at least 1 brewery to every 4 mountain bike trails in the USA (the # of MTB trails in the US is a hard # to pin down, though our best guess is about 10,000).

    I live within a mile of 3 craft breweries and 1 brewpub but sadly, we don’t have many official MTB trails close by. To me it seems like the breweries part is easy–it’s finding great MTB trails that’s a challenge!

  2. Great article. I’d like to make a suggestion for another ‘mash-up’ that may be equally interesting. How about great MTB destinations with the best surrounding ‘family fun’. Could be anything from wilderness adventures to amusement parks to lakes/beaches. Its not all that appealing right now for me to leave the family (two young kids) for 10 days to do a “bucket list” trip. That time will come, but if I could include them, and make sure they had a great time too, it would be a win win. Based on the general MTBer demographic I bet I’m not the only one!

      • Reppin Boise, Id. at the moment, don’t forget we also Tour de Fat bike fest that comes here every year now too. Also if anyone ever get’s to Boise let me know because they forgot to mention two of the best and more challenging trials around here. Those are called Mahalo and Dry creek. It’s a 20 plus mile challenge and worth every minute. Cheers!

      • Please forgive my typing errors as I did not proof read my prior comment. I was just stoked about the whole beer, bikes and trail thing. Cheers.

    • I agree that this is a fantastic idea! As a mother, I know how difficult it can be to juggle the mtbiking obsession with kids. Striking that balance can be difficult in certain destinations!

  3. What a great article! I’ve ridden and drank in many (but not all) of these towns, and all the ones I’ve been to are more than deserving of this list!

    I think all of the stipulations at the beginning of the article make it a bit more difficult for cities to make this list. If all a town/city needed was a brewery and a bike trail (as many of the commentators on Facebook seem to think), then pretty much every town would qualify. And then where would that put us? However, I think cycling8r does a great job of setting up some criteria to ensure that only the BEST towns–in terms of both beer AND trails–make this list. Sure, some of the criteria are a bit arbitrary… but you have to start somewhere!

    All that said, while I enjoy great, local craft beer, I’m personally not nearly as picky as true connoisseurs might be. Give me a good, local Pale Ale or IPA, and I’ll probably be happy :)

  4. This is a great list. And I agree with ^Greg Heil that cycling8r did a very nice job of setting up some criteria (or else this list would be massive!). I’m fortunate to live in Colorado so I’m spoiled with the the amount of new breweries popping up everyday. Every time I travel somewhere outside the front range area, I always try to look up to see if there are any local craft beer spots to hit. I’d love to travel to some of these spots! I’ll be taking a bike to the Pocono Mountain, Pennsylvania area in August and hope to discover some sweet trails as well as some new brews (I know they’re partial to their Yuengling, but it’d be cool to sample something from a small company).

    On a side note, if you’re traveling to Park City, you don’t necessarily need to drive into Salt Lake to sip on some delicious cold ones. The Wasatch has some quality beers and they are located right on Main St. There’s a couple others on and off Main, but the Wasatch was all I had a chance to check out. If you like porters, get the Polygamy Porter if only for the tongue in cheek slogan (Why have just one?). It’s also pretty tasty!

    • That’s great advice for Park City, and Polygamy Porter is one of my favorites! Even more reason to get to PC sooner rather than later!

  5. I’m surprised Cincinnati, OH tri-state area didn’t make the list! What exactly was the mile radius around the city that was taken into consideration when generating this list?

  6. Durango Colorado!
    Maybe there are not 10 breweries, but there are several and you just can’t help but notice that after a suffering climb of several thousand feet up the Telegraph Trail you can bomb down the Cowboy Trail and then ride a mile or so along bike paths on the river to Ska Brewery for a juicy burger and some cold brew. Then it’s another mile or so back to the truck followed up by a short drive to the other breweries down town. What an awesome route!

  7. Glad to see Portland Maine on the list. Try Allagash Black and any of the Sebago brewing Co offerings, as well as Rising Tide Brewery right in down town Portland.
    Carrabassett Valley in NW Maine near the Canadian border, home of Sugarloaf Mountain is an outstanding 4 seasons outdoor destination with miles and miles of mountain biking, hiking, skiing etc etc. Go see Bob Ash at the Carabasset Outdoor Center for some friendly advice on local trails.

  8. Wait – my town should be on this list.
    Wait – last thing we need is more beer guzzling out-of-towners asking where the sweet dirt?
    Phew – thanks for not putting us on the list.

    • This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, nor does it claim to be the 10 “best” towns for beer+bikes or anything like that so there really aren’t any hard and fast rules. Which bike+beer towns are on your list? We’d love to hear about them here in the comments!

      • I was just wondering what the distance was. In Birmingham, Al within about 40 to 50 minute drive depending on traffic there are 15-20 trail systems and 10 microbreweries. Also, included in those trails are a Bronze Epic trail system and a former epic trail system.

      • Right on, Birmingham is a cool town. Will have to check out some local brews the next time I ride Oak Mountain!

        Crazy how many breweries are around these days. Not sure which is in more of a “golden age”: mountain bike trails or breweries. :)

      • @ Jeff, in America? Definitely craft beer :) I spent some time talking to (and drinking with) some beer aficionados in Canmore, and this one guy would look for excuses to drive 6 hours away a couple times a year just to fill up a big growler-style tank with a specific type of craft beer. In the US, very few would think about doing that… primarily because the access to good, local craft beer is so fantastic.

Leave a Reply