From spiced stouts to boozy barleywines, Utah winter beers bring a little extra punch to this snowy winter. Unfortunately, these heavier beers also tend to bring a little extra punch to our waistlines—especially if you’re prone to winter hibernation.
There’s a bright side to this cautionary tale: you can drink these seasonal beverages (almost) guilt free if you pair them with winter recreation on the trails or through the woods.
1. CROSS COUNTRY SKIING + SHADES OF PALE HOGHSEAD RESERVE #3
When you think of winter in Utah, mountain slopes and ski resorts most likely come to mind. But the biggest secret on the Wasatch is that Utah’s a Nordic skiing mecca too, and what it lacks in adrenaline it makes up for in calories and calm.
There are plenty of places to cross country ski in the Salt Lake City area, but one of the best options is just a few miles up Parley’s Canyon at the Mountain Dell Golf Course. The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA) grooms miles of trail in the winter with options from beginner to expert. You’ll find that cross country skiing is a full-body workout, and since skiing at the slowest speed still burns approximately 400 calories an hour, a treat afterwards is appropriate.
Utah brewery Shades of Pale recently released Hogshead Reserve No. 3, a barrel-aged tripel that used half bourbon and half rye whiskey barrels to achieve delicious results. At 11%, it warms your palate without overpowering your taste buds, and it’s sweet and dry at the same time thanks to the base beer—a Belgian tripel. You’ll notice a bit of barrel quality in the finish, but not to the point of booziness, making it the perfect winter warmer.
2. SOAKING IN FIFTH WATER HOT SPRINGS + WASATCH DEVASTATOR
Looking for an Instagram-worthy outdoor adventure? Picture a wintry soak in a natural hot spring, surrounded by brilliant blue pools and snowy pines. It might sound too good to be true, but it’s not—as long as you’re willing to put in a few miles to get there.
Fifth Water Hot Springs are located near the end of Diamond Fork Road off Highway 6 near Spanish Fork. Most of the year you can park your car at the trailhead and take a relatively easy 2.5-mile one-way hike to the springs. However, a winter gate cuts off part of the road in the winter, and you’ll have to walk approximately three extra miles down the road just to start the hike. Worth it? Depends on your level of stamina, but a hot soak combined with a delicious beer at the halfway point makes the trip better.
Canned beer keeps your pack weight down, and Wasatch Devastator Double Bock is conveniently available in cans or bottles. Creamy and rich, this brew doesn’t taste as strong as the 8% ABV suggests, and it offers a warm, malty finish. Tastes great in steamy water, but be sure to bring a koozie to keep it cold. Once you’re finished, crush the can and pack it out!
3. HIKING IN SOUTHERN UTAH + UINTA RISE AND PINE
We’re blessed with multiple snowsport options along the Wasatch Front, but sometimes you just need a break from the cold or the inversion. And one of the best things about living in Salt Lake City is access to the desert; meaning warmer temperatures and abundant sunshine are always just a few hours down the road.
St. George is a four-hour highway drive south, and the weather is reliably 10–30 degrees warmer. Redrock lovers will delight in Snow Canyon State Park, just minutes from downtown St. George.
The park offers miles of fabulous hiking trails with wide open desert vistas and towering painted cliffs. Try the Gila Trail, which meanders through washes and over fins (plus past some gorgeous desert homes). You’ll probably break a sweat in the sun, and when that happens, a full-bodied winter beer doesn’t always sound appetizing.
Instead, try a new winter offering from Uinta, Rise and Pine. It’s a hoppy dark ale brewed with juniper and piney hops—think a maltier, woodsier IPA. The beer’s flavor naturally complements the scents of pine and juniper on desert trails, and makes redrock Zen even better.
4. SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING + EPIC DOUBLE BARREL BIG BAD BAPTIST
We can’t write a story on winter activities in Utah and leave out skiing and snowboarding. After all, Utah’s resorts are famous for the Greatest Snow on Earth, and this season’s non-stop storms means they’re living up to the reputation.
If you’re looking for a no-frills, powder-filled experience, it’s hard to beat Brighton up Big Cottonwood Canyon. You won’t find fancy amenities or gourmet restaurants, but you will find uncrowded slopes and a chill vibe—perfect for the local who wants to get away for the day. And not much tastes better after crushing a few runs than a beer.
When it’s cold and snowy out, big and boozy hits the spot, and Epic knows how to make a big beverage. The brewery’s annual barrel-aged stout, Big Bad Baptist, is wildly popular with local and national drinkers alike. This year Epic took the stout and stepped it up a notch with the addition of whiskey-barrel aged coffee from a roaster in Colorado. If you like coffee and chocolate, you’ll love this one. At over 12% ABV—it packs a punch—so split this one with a few friends while you swap powder day stories.
5. ICE SKATING + PROPER SALTED CARAMEL PORTER
Sometimes it’s tempting to indulge your inner Frozen princess and spin across the ice on skates. The Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City is one of few outdoor rinks in the area, and while it’s likely to be crowded on weekend nights, it beats being indoors. Ice skating requires a bit of balance, but once you’ve found your form, it’s easy to feel like a kid again.
At $9 for a skate rental and over 400 calories burned an hour, it’s a fairly cost-effective workout too. And it makes the next beer, Proper Salted Caramel Porter, go down even easier. Our inner child has to approve of any beer that sounds like an ice cream flavor, and this one is exceptionally easy to drink.
Don’t expect a big caramel punch or a super sweet beverage, but do look forward to a smooth, well-crafted porter with a subtle caramel flavor and a little sodium bite at the end. Remember, no alcohol is allowed on the ice, so save this one for when you return home.