Men's Journal - June 2012

Paddle for the Pilsner

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OUTFITTERS TEAM UP WITH CRAFT BREWERS FOR A NOVEL (AND SOMEWHAT DRUNKEN) WHITEWATER EXPERIENCE

When you think of rafting and beer, it's usually with innertubes, slow rivers and the cheapest case you can find. But scanic places with world-class rapids have long been a source of water for micro-breweries. Rafting outfitters are now taking advantage, offering trips that spend the day on fast-paced rivers like the Rogue, Tuolumne and Lower Salmon and the evening drinking beers fresh off the boat with a brewmaster. For locals, the pairing has long been a given: "I practically grew up on the river in Oregon, and the first beer I ever drank was Deschutes" (named after the river in Bend, Oregon), says Erik Weiseth, an Orange Torpedo Trips guide. "The two just go together." Here are three trips that bring the tradition to the rest of us. - JAYME MOYE

ROGUE RIVER, OREGON

Four days on the Rogue River, in southwestern Oregon, means ripping through a forested canyon full of bears, eagles and salmon. At camp, Double Mountain's brewmaster-in-residence, Matt Swihart, offers his most popular beers, like the Vaporizer pale ale and cherry sour beer, as well as a special blend concocted just for the trip.

TUOLUMNE RIVER, CALIFORNIA

In Class IV rapids, this trip covers nine roaring river miles each day. In the evening, the executive chef from the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park grills andouille sausage, flatiron steak and sockeye salmon while a brewmaster from Sierra Nevada pairs the meal with rare brews.

LOWER SALMON RIVER, IDAHO

Rafters on this tour are encouraged to run the river in inflatable kayaks called Torpedos, "so they can learn how to surf a rapid," says Weiseth. A Deschutes Brewery brewmaster then leads a nightly tasting with beer transported in a "jocky box," a tap system that chills liquid in copper coils and dispenses it with CO2.