Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Concentrated Beer for Hikers and Campers?

Pat’s Backcountry Beverages of Golden, Colorado, produces a number of concentrated beverages intended for hikers and others who want to travel with beverages, but don’t want to carry the weight associated with them.  They produce a line of non-alcoholic concentrates, including Terra Cola, Poma Granite Cola, Lemon Cline, Bear Foot Root Beer, and Ginger Trail.  They also offer two “brew concentrates” (by law they cannot call them “beer” concentrates).

The brew concentrates are a distilled version of beer, approximately 10 times the concentration of normal beer.  They’re intended to be carried into the woods with the company’s “Backcountry Carbonator” product.  When the time comes to have a beer, water from a mountain stream is put into the carbonator along with the concentrate.  The carbonator then adds carbon dioxide to the mixture.  The result is, according to the manufacturer’s web site, a drink that tastes “Incredible….our patent pending modified brewing process is capable of producing the same great tasting beer as a standard brewing process… without the water.”.

The staff at the Gizmodo blog, however, have a different take on it.  They tasted some of the undiluted syrup before diluting and carbonating it, and say that “we can fully recommend in good conscience, that you never, never do that to yourself.”  They described the unmodified concentrate as tasting like “potent, regurgitated beer and/or straight garbage” or “an atrociously strong soy sauce mixed with melted tar.”

When mixed properly, Gizmodo says that the “Pale Rail” (essentially a concentrated pale ale) tastes “surprisingly weak, especially for something that’s pretending to be a pale ale.  That being said, it was better tasting and more flavorful than your run of the mill lite beer fare. Plus the beer was super drinkable, and while it wouldn’t necessarily be a first choice, it was by no means offensive in the slightest.”

The “Black IPA” was reportedly “the more flavorful” of the two.  They go on to say that “That pungent, brain-killing soy-saucy flavor mellowed into a rich, malty beer that wasn’t entirely unpleasant.” 

Ultimately, they felt somewhat underwhelmed by the whole experience. 

The brewing process is interesting.  According to the Pat’s Backcountry web site, they don’t brew a beer and distill out the water.  Instead, they start with almost no water, and control the fermentation environment.  They claim that brewing this way benefits the environment by “not needlessly burning fossil fuels to process and transport all that extra water”.

The concentrates retail for about $10 for four packets, and the reusable carbonator costs about $40.  I’ve not seen the product for sale in Columbus (though I’m not likely to frequent the kinds of shops where it would be sold), but it can be found online if you have the need or desire to try reconstituted beer.

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