Senior Editor

The Inertia

You’ve heard of a ski lodge, no? A place where all your wintery dreams come true? A place where powder days end and aprés begins next to a cozy fire? Where good food is eaten and alcohol-fueled plans are made in over-exuberance for the next day. Plans that won’t start until noon-thirty. Yes, these places exist beyond Christmas cards. They’re real. This winter, I was able to experience an even better-er lodge. A beer lodge – think ski lodge but more legendarybuilt with love and creative planning and….beer. The best ingredient for a winter of ripping freshies.

In case you needed reminding, I work in this industry. I’m very lucky. It makes me cool enough to score several trips to various enviable locations during the year. Well this winter, one of my best was to a little place called McCall, Idaho to visit a real-life beer lodge. McCall is in the heart of central Idaho, surrounded by mountains, and wilderness, and wild places you’ve never heard of. And it sits on a beautiful lake you couldn’t create in your wildest dreams. A place perfect for a beer lodge.

You’d like to create your own beer lodge, you say? Well, based on the bar tab alone, that might be tough. But you can come close. And my friends at 10 Barrel Brewing helped us all realize a dream this winter. So even if you can’t create your own, or aren’t lucky enough, here are three easy steps to building a beer lodge in your mountain town.

Location, Location, Location

First, you gotta find the right lodge before you can turn it into a beer lodge. It’s gotta be fresh, built from gigantic pieces of timber, and include a pass to a posh clubhouse more fitting of Newport Beach. Or, it’s just gotta be a dank rental with a big kitchen, four cozy rooms (half with waterbeds) and a sweaty underground pool and hot tub. Boom. Airbnb booked for the winter by our friends, just down a snowy road from Payette Lake and 20 minutes from Brundage – McCall’s featured town resort sitting high above that beautiful lake.

When us media kooks arrive, happy hour is a full go. Pub Beer is being consumed, canned cocktails passed amongst new friends, and a strange game of stick-less pool is in full bloom, led mostly by snowboarders Eric Jackson and Curtis Ciszek. Wednesday nights in McCall, Idaho are rarely this….well. Called Crud, or Spaz, the frenetic game involves players rotating to knock the balls while running around a pool table egged on by cheers (or jeers) from onlookers. All while not using a stick – just hands. And I still don’t entirely understand the rules. I lost. So…

…Hot dogs. Gourmet sausages were being simmered over wood coals in Green Eggs on the back porch. Needless to say, nights at any real beer lodge are never lacking in fun.

Treat Your People Right

Or media, if those are your types. You see, you gotta bring in enough people with big enough mouths (or platforms) to pass the word around about the beer lodge. And you gotta treat ’em right. Which in the mountains, simply means powder (and copious amounts of high-quality schwag). Fresh snow greets us as the gurus from Brundage Snowcats dropped knowledge about the terrain we were about to enjoy.

A lack of quantity control the night before, combined with poor board choice and bad visibility, meant a sweaty, sometimes-nauseated morning in the cat, and a semi-sloppy morning on the snow for me.  Lunch was a dream. Big, rye-bread sandwiches and hot soup in a stove-warmed yurt set me right. The afternoon was a white-out to remember as the snow stayed shreddable, the viz improved and the terrain got better (see steeper). Beers were earned this day.

The parking lot after featured a tail gate from meat heaven with perfectly cooked filet mignon and….Pubbies. Treat your people right.

Shred ‘Till Your Dead (and Feed Em)

Remember what I said about earning your beers at the beer lodge? Well, to earn ours, we had to shred bluebird pow at Brundage with stellar company. I know. Terrible.

The morning greeted us in grand fashion. Crispy, cold white snow, clear blue skies, and free lift tickets. It was another dream. One that, if I’m being honest, I’d experienced before, having spent plenty of time at this little secret in my youth. But that mattered little. We were in the moment, a band of shred brothers and shred sisters, forced to hike for fresh turns and cliff jumps. I hit things I’d thrown myself off of years prior. And made them look just as sketchy this time around. But it was all new. Because I was with new friends. And we were earning our beer.

When the shred session was done there was more. Brundage cat operators carried us in their noble steeds to a mid-mountain hut where 10 Barrel’s Boise-based chef cooked us a meal of meals: meats we couldn’t pronounce, salmon with delectable capers, healthy veggies made less healthy, but more savory, after being drowned in oil and salty concoctions. It was a feast of feasts. All topped off with, that’s right, beer. Really, good, beer.

And that, my friends, is how you create a beer lodge.


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