Review: Pat’s Backcountry Beverages
So here’s the quick and dirty on the Pat’s Backcountry Beer. I’m one of those people that enjoys a beer ‘nowish’ (now a word) at the finish of a day in the backcountry. This notion is usually in the form of a dream because no one wants to haul the weight in to the backcountry. The idea of a concentrated beer has brought out all the skeptics – myself included.
Pat Tatera has changed all that. We no longer have to dream of getting back to the trailhead to enjoy a brew in the backcountry. In all, Pat’s Backcountry beers do not disappoint.
The maiden voyage for this contraption was a hut trip with friends. I was surprised to see two others show up with the backcountry brew. This was nice, because I didn’t feel like the only enormous, huge nerd, with the urge for a brew on a hut trip.
The directions are a bit cumbersome at first, but you quickly get the hang of it. I would recommend memorizing a song for the various steps involved – we certainly did. The process involves pumping, shaking, waiting, and repeating – so as you can imagine, a song is imperative. I believe we blew through at least 15 of the beers over the course of the trip, and managed to perfect it pretty fast. We didn’t perfect a song.. yet. But whatever we come up with, I would look for it on the Top 40 charts by the end of the year.
Here’s the low down on how it works. A special carbonator bottle is used with an activator packet a little bigger than that of a sugar packet. The activators are two fairly benign chemicals in an exact mixture in powder form – sodium bicarbonate and citric acid. The activators are used in the top portion of the bottle which creates an endothermic reaction… It could also be exothermic, I wasn’t exactly paying attention, but if my chemistry serves me correct this would be endothermic. The bottom line though, is that this reaction creates the carbon dioxide or CO2 (bubbles). That’s really all we need to know.
For you chemistry nerds out there, here is what is happening:
H3C6H5O7 + NaHCO3 –> CO2 + H2O + NaC6H5O7
The beer comes in a shot packet resembling Stingers or Gu. The syrup mixture is boiled water and malt which creates wort, or unfermented beer with yeast added to ferment it. This process is repeated several times. The mixture is vacuum distilled which preserves the ethanol, leaving behind a syrup until a final concentrate is 10 times the strength of beer! Once mixed it creates roughly a 5-6% alcohol content. I’m sure I’m not the only one that debated on just eating the syrup packet, but like any concentrate, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you do, hide your camera.
A tip, if you have it at your disposal, use as cold of water as possible. We used snow barely melted, and it made a big difference in the carbonation process. During the summer months this might be harder to come by if you are filtering water or using a Steripen. But for the record, the colder the water, the better.
In all it was a pretty tasty beer for being in the backcountry. I tried both the Pale Rail, and Black Hops. Between the activators and beer you can count on roughly $2.50 – 3.00 each. But considering the weight, it is well worth it.
The carbonator bottle happens to be the same size lid as a regular Nalgene bottle. So the carbonator could be used as a water bottle as well when hiking in. Just don’t try to carbonate the mixture in a regular Nalgene – it isn’t designed for that business.
Pat’s also makes soda flavors – the lemon lime could go well with vodka or gin. Really there are endless possibilities for backcountry libations, within a few days you could open up a backcountry tiki bar.
I have had luck finding the beers in several liquor stores in the Colorado area. All the ingredients can also be found online. In conclusion, Pat’s Backcountry Beverages is completely awesome in remote settings, I would highly recommend it. Plus you will be able to achieve awesome Daffy’s like Annie Germinder did in this photo at the hut!
More information on Pat’s Backcountry Beverages can be found on their website: http://www.patsbcb.com/