How to Choose a Fishing Beer (and Recommendations!)

Every time I leave the house to fish, I go through a mental checklist of everything I’ll need. Rod, fly boxes, a hat, sunglasses, the works. One thing that often makes the list is a couple of brews. While any beer is surely better than no beer, we’ve discovered over the years that certain qualities lend themselves better to fishing than others.

While we also certainly have our preferred styles of beer based on taste, there are some we enjoy at home that we rarely take fishing. To that point, there are also beers that we never drink at home but eagerly take fishing.

There’s an art to choosing your beverage for a day on the water, and everyone’s taste will, of course, be different. But, I’ll go over the science we’ve come to use while making our own selections for fishing.

Affordability

One of the major factors to take into account for any beer you might drink a lot of is price. And when fishing, there’s a good chance you’ll drink quite a few. Over the course of a day, especially during the summer, I may easily drink four or five. I don’t want these beers to be prohibitively expensive.

Along the same line, I’m fairly clumsy. It’s not unusual for me to lose a decent amount of beer into the river as I walk around, bend over, set my can down on a rock, etc. I don’t want to waste a fine, pricey beer by dropping it in the river or filling it with water. I want something I enjoy but am not too attached to.

Refreshment

Here’s an example of what may cause us to drink differently between home and the river.

At home, I enjoy all sorts of beers. Ambers, pale ales, lagers, pilsners, sours, IPAs, stouts, porters, and more have all made a home in our fridge. Meanwhile, on the water I’ll rarely be caught drinking anything other than the lightest, most refreshing beers. Lagers and pale ales probably make up the majority of my fishing beer, but Coors Light also takes up a hefty spot, despite the fact that I haven’t had one at home in years.

Yes, plenty of people do fish in the winter and might want something a little more hearty, but the vast majority of fishing time is in the warmer months, and the last thing I want to drink on a 100-degree day is a lukewarm IPA.

With the lighter, refreshing beers, I’m essentially treating them as alcoholic water. I want to be able to take a big swig and quench my thirst. This could be the spot to recommend a spiked seltzer, but this is a beer article, so I won’t.

Mix Packs

If you like one single kind of beer and can drink it nonstop, by all means, do so. However, we like to have a variety of beers when we fish. Considering the last point of wanting to stick to refreshing beers, we’ve come to learn that not all mix packs are created equal.

The ones we despise most for fishing are what we describe as “one normal beer” mix packs. These contain one normal beer (ie, a lager, an IPA, etc), and then around three crazy beers that either indicate the brewery can’t brew beer well enough to let it stand on its own, or they think they need to be more hip than just providing easy-drinking beverages. The crazy beers range from watermelon to pancake and everything in between.

While we wouldn’t deem them “crazy” beers as mentioned before, we still try to avoid the heavier beers like stouts and porters when looking for a good fishing mix pack. There are a handful of breweries out there that offer, among their packs, one with nothing but “drinkable” beers, and that’s what we’re looking for.

Responsible breweries

Not something you’ll probably be thinking of as you sip beer on the shoreline, but important nonetheless, are the practices of the breweries making our beloved beverages.

Several breweries have stepped up to do more than just make good beer. In our area, we have a couple I’m aware of.

Upslope has partnered with Trout Unlimited and sponsored conservation events like the Flyathlon. They also make a great mix pack. New Belgium is known for being one of the most sustainable breweries in the country, putting a lot of focus on brewing beer with minimal environmental impact. If you know the beer you’re drinking is fish-friendly, it might just taste a little better.

Recommendations

As I said before, everyone’s taste will be a little different, so these are just some of our favorites.

Upslope Craft Lager

Image result for upslope lager

This one probably doesn’t top the list of many people’s favorite beers, but it’s probably liked by nearly everyone. It meets all the criteria above: affordable, extremely refreshing, found in mix packs, and brewed by a company that supports fishing.

Coors Light

Image result for coors light

Although it feels strange to be recommending this among many craft beers, it would be disingenuous to pretend this isn’t the vast majority of what we drink on the water. While it’s not in fancy mix packs or made by a small brewery, it tops the scale of affordability and refreshment, and if I spill an entire six-pack in the river, I won’t be upset.

New Belgium Fat Tire Amber Ale

Image result for fat tire can

If you want something easy-drinking that also has a little more flavor than those above, it’s hard to go wrong with a Fat Tire. Once again, brewed by a responsible brewery, fairly affordable, and available in mix packs, this is one of our go-tos.

Odell Mountain Standard IPA

Image result for mountain standard ipa

If you’re looking for something with a slightly higher ABV than those above without diving into the strong, heavy IPAs you might enjoy at home, the Mountain Standard is a great option. This will quench your desire for an IPA without leaving you too lethargic to hike or fish hard.

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This is a list I made and use for my own trips, and I think any backcountry angler will find it handy.