Noble Brewer’s Cathy Trainor recently hiked the 211-mile John Muir Trail. She checked out some great breweries along the way. Here is what she recommends for the beer lover’s guide to the JMT.
There’s nothing like craft beer when you’ve been hiking all day long. In fact, it was the thought of a nice, cold beer that motivated me during the toughest stretches of my hike through the John Muir Trail.
Summiting Glen Pass, which boasts an elevation of 11,926 feet, was no easy feat, and as I stood at the top, I felt a blissful sense of freedom, and so excited to soon have a beer in hand. Unfortunately for me, I had misjudged the last leg of the journey that would take me to a town where a beer and burger awaited my arrival. When I realized that eleven more miles, including the 11,709 foot Kearsarge Pass, stood between me and that cold beverage- instead of the around 6 miles I had thought- I fumed. I’m happy to say, however, that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Upon arriving to the town, I graciously received a Ballast Point Pale Ale from a guy named Tom who was waiting for his girlfriend to come off the trail for a resupply. Every sip was heavenly.
While it’s no shock that people talk about beer a lot on the trail, myself included, I was surprised by the superb quality of the breweries and available beer along the JMT. Here’s a list of the great breweries and beer-serving stops I had the pleasure of visiting along the way. Since most JMT thru-hikers walk from North to South, we’ll start our JMT beer trail in Yosemite Valley and end at Mount Whitney. You’ll discover the up-and-coming Eastern Sierra craft beer scene along Highway 395!
1. Curry Village Pizza Patio - Yosemite Valley
Image Credit: yosemitepark.com
This is your starting point, where you will depart on your adventure, so why not celebrate with a great beer? The Pizza Patio at Curry Village has a great open-air bar with excellent craft beer choices and of course, pizza. You’ll notice some choices from Mammoth Brewing Company on tap - that’s next on your adventure! You can also buy some great beer at the general store at Curry Village.
2. Mammoth Brewing Company - Mammoth Lakes
Image Credit: mammothbrewingco.com
It’s easy to get from Reds Meadow to Mammoth Lakes, as there’s a shuttle that goes back and forth on a regular schedule, and a plus, the brewery is easy to find! Mammoth Brewing has a fun and lively atmosphere, which attracts thirsty guests on holidays and weekends especially. The Double Nut Brown, Real McCoy Pale Ale, and the Epic IPA are favorites here.
3. June Lake Brewing - June Lake
Image Credit: junelakebrewing.com
Have an extra day? Hop on the bus from Mammoth Lakes to June Lake to check out another awesome brewery. June Lake Brewing has a relaxed mountain feel and is known for its Double IPA, Deer Beer Brown Ale, and Smokin’ Porter. An added bonus? Ohanas 395, the Hawaiian Soul Food truck, serves up delicious food for you to enjoy with your beer.
4. Vermilion Valley Resort – Mono Hot Springs
Image Credit: 2footadventures.com
It’s only 29 miles from Red’s Meadow to the Lake Edison trail junction which takes you to VVR. If you’re planning a resupply or a rest day here, you have beer to look forward to! VVR serves a selection of beers at lunch and dinner and also sells beer in their camp store.
5. Muir Trail Ranch – Lakeshore
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This great spot is right on the trail! Better yet, it serves dinner and hikers get their first beer free. If you’re just passing through, though, you won’t find much beyond fuel and basic goods at the general store. On the bright side, the food that is left behind here in hiker boxes will make your day!
6. Mountain Rambler Brewery - Bishop
Image Credit: mountainramblerbrewery.com
If you’ve made it to here, you’ve completed a tough section of the trail and certainly deserve a reward! It’s no surprise that Mountain Rambler, which has been open less than a year, is doing very well, as their food and beer are delicious! Try their salmon tacos, the burger, and any of their fries with the beers on tap. They also make a porter-brownie ice cream that you’ll surely be dreaming about the rest of your journey.
7. Indian Wells Brewing Company - Inyokern
Image Credit: foothillflyers.org
Congratulations! If you make it here, you’ve completed the trail and have experienced the beauty of Mount Whitney. It’s time to celebrate this great accomplishment. Chances are you’ve seen Indian Wells beers in various general stores along the way, but now you can try it in person at their brewery on the side of Highway 14! If you finish the trail at Lone Pine, you’ll still have to drive about an hour south on 395 to get here, but if you’re headed that direction anyway, be sure to stop by. Try the Mohave Red or the Death Valley Pale Ale, and be sure to sample the unusual assortment of sodas they offer!
In the years to come, there will most likely be even more breweries to discover along the trail - step into any of them, and you’ll get the feeling that the Eastern Sierra craft beer scene is about to explode. Hopefully these places will enrich your entire JMT experience and leave you with lasting memories!
This article was written by Cathy Trainor, the Community Outreach Lead at Noble Brewer, a subscription-based beer club whose members receive quarterly shipments of beer inspired by local award winning homebrewers.