In the winter there is no better way to earn your beers than a day on the slopes. Our local ski areas have some great places on and off the mountain to rest your quads and work on those twelve-ounce curls.
Mount Spokane’s Foggy Bottom Lounge has excellent views down mountain where you can watch the evening snow fall while contemplating that drive. The big, communal tables often foster some rowdy conversation about where to find the good snow. If you are looking to cozy up to a wood stove with a black farm dog at your feet and a craft beer in your hand, Big Barn Brewing Company is also just minutes from the mountain. Once your legs are feeling up to it, you might even be able to challenge the owner to a game of Ping-Pong in the beautiful, you guessed it, big barn.
Boomtown Lounge on 49 Degrees North is a rustic, cozy place to shoulder up to the bar and make some friends with your fellow skiers and riders. And, as they should, local breweries are popping up everywhere with Chewelah now housing Quartzite Brewery. This new brewery is adorned appropriately with old skis and snowshoes on the wall, and their beers are named after the peaks of the Colville National Forest.
Silver Mountain’s Moguls fosters the feeling of hanging with your extended family members— the cool ones that ski and ride. There is plenty of room for the whole crew and, if need be, the shot ski. But one of the best things about Moguls is the to-go cups for the gondola ride. Radio Brewing Company in Kellogg is a new craft brewer on the scene, offering up a variety of brews with retro radio-themed names.
A favorite haunt on Schweitzer Mountain is the Outback Inn, tucked on the backside with plenty of fun runs and a high-speed lift. Here you can warm your soul with some fellow adventurous spirits. The new Nest sits up on the summit and, while you are enjoying a frosty beverage, you can take in the offers 360-degree views of the Selkirks and Lake Pend Oreille. Taps, upstairs in the lodge, is a big open space with great views of Schweitzer Bowl, but you’d better get there early if the Seahawks are playing. Of course, you can saddle up to the long bar at McDuff’s Brewpub in the heart of Sandpoint for an in-town option.
When the wind chill picks up at Lookout, look no further than the Loft Pub. This is a classic ski bar on the top floor of the lodge with exposed rafters and a great panoramic view. Here you can sip your beer, eat a brat, gaze up at both Montana and Idaho, and decide which state is less windy. Stopping in Wallace on the drive back to town can allow for a visit to two breweries. Downtown’s Wallace Brewery looks just like it must have during the boom in silver mining, and North Idaho Mountain Brew located at City Limits Pub sits just on the edge of town.
No matter if you want to stay up on the slopes or head back to town, there is a great array of après ski options out there. Many of these spots host music on the weekends and have rotating drink specials. So, gather up some friends, shred some powder, and reward yourself for a hard days work in the mountains. // (Adam Gebauer)
When Adam Gebauer is not teaching skiing or summiting a mountain, he is wrangling his herd of goats and running Syringa Ecological Consulting. He wrote about Mount Spokane’s “Beer Rock” in October.