Currently sitting in the middle of the desert, boondocking with friends, I find myself reminiscing about 2020. Kenny and I were sure we’d gone less places than we did in 2019. So, yes, while we did travel less (ish), we sure as hell didn’t go to less breweries. Check out our Craft Beer Travelers Top 5 of 2020.
- Top 5 Favorite Numbers
- Top 5 Favorite Regions
- Top 5 Favorite Camp Spots
- Top 5 Favorite Stout Life Stories
- Top 5 Favorite Podcasts
- Top 5 Favorite Breweries
- Top 5 Favorite Mountain Biking Trails
- Looking Ahead to 2021
Use this Top 5 List as a Resource
As I was compiling all of our data for 2020, I found myself bitching about all the money we spent eating out, drinking beer, maintaining our mountain bikes and traveling. But the truth is, this is what we love to do. We get so much joy out of this craft beer and travel lifestyle; why would we stop?
So, as I stated in last year’s Top 5 list, “We are stoked, and we want to inspire you to follow your dreams. Whatever your dreams may be, do something every day to work towards them. Maybe next year you’ll be writing your top 5.”
We hope you find this list entertaining, informative and helpful when planning your 2021 craft beer lifestyle.
Top 5 Favorite Numbers of 2020
- 17 states – So we thought we slowed down in 2020, due to COVID, but we still hit 17 states, down only two from 2019. Plus, if you want to include a tiny corner of Minnesota (not in our RV) and Mexicali (we walked across the border), then we hit 19! Overall, though, it’s really not about the numbers. While we did travel in 17 states, we spent a lot of time (weeks or months) in only a few: Colorado, Arizona, Alabama, South Dakota, Washington and Oregon. And we’ve ticked off three new states: Washington, Oregon and Nevada, making our grand total visited in the RV, 44 states. We still have to get to: Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kentucky and Alaska.
- 15 weeks – The number of weeks spent in Colorado is always an important number to us, as Colorado will always be home. This number surprised us because we spent most of the summer here with friends drinking and mountain biking in Southwest Colorado. We thought it would be more than the 21 weeks that we spent in our home state last year. However, thinking back on it now – COVID. Always trying to find the positive in fucked up situations, we got to stay with family in Alabama for six weeks, getting to know them more and having a good time doing so. We learned to enjoy the slow travel, and really got to know an area like a local instead of a tourist. This year, we will really be doing that as we will be workamping in Montana for five months! That’s slow travel.
- 67 rides in 12 states – With our mountain bikes being stolen at the end 2019 and us not replacing them until late Feb of 2020, and then me getting sick at the end of the year, combined with other family related issues…Wow! Almost 70 rides and in 7 states! Most of those rides took place on kick-ass trails in Colorado considering we spent most of the summer in Durango, Buena Vista, Silverton, and Gunnison. But we can’t forget to mention Bend, Oregon. We spent three weeks there, riding every other day!
- 65 camp spots – Finally, we actually did slow down, at least with camping sites. With 100 camping spots last year, the 65 was actually quite nice. We did camp the same as we usually do. Most of these were free and in the mountains or a desert, some not free cuz it was cold and we wanted to be warm. A few were with family moochdocking or in their house, and a few in parking lots, most loved, some not. (Check out our post for more on finding the best camping spot.)
- 150 breweries and taprooms – We actually started tracking our brewery numbers this year. Again, no wonder it feels as though we never have money, but hey, we are rich in beer, food and community. I would say about 90% of this number is actual breweries and brewpubs, with the other 10% being beer bars and dive bars. Due to COVID, some of the breweries we visited were takeout only, but hey, that’s how you support your beloved craft breweries. And here’s how to find them.
Top 5 Favorite Regions of 2020
- SW Colorado: Salida, Buena Vista, Durango – Plus, probably every town in this region. We just can’t get enough of the beauty here. Not to mention all the free camping, mountain biking trails and breweries nearby. If you haven’t been…go!
- Bend, OR – Exactly the same feel as SW Colorado. The only difference is that Bend is quite a bit bigger, but it feels like a small town community with no lack of things to do. With free camping right at Phil’s trailhead, breweries only four miles away, and so many places to explore. Bend is now an all time favorite!
- Yakima, WA – While it was the hop farms that attracted us to this area, the vineyards, breweries, the quaint town and acres upon acres of hops, grapes, apple orchards and farming land kept us here.
- Coastal Oregon – There’s no way we could pick one town along the coast of Oregon, so we chose the entire coast. The Pacific Ocean crashing against the cliffs, the white sand beaches, the breweries, the people. We couldn’t get enough of any if it. We even stayed for 10 days at an actual RV park to enjoy the coast even longer. Granted it was in Long Beach, Washington, but that’s almost in Oregon.
- Yuma, AZ – We came to Yuma for a brewery, of course. But then we were invited to a farm-to-table dinner, met new friends at our campsite and even howled at the moon with hundreds of other people at this monthly Yuma event. So we stayed.
Top 5 Favorite Camp Spots of 2020
- Raspberry Gulch (Nathrop, CO) – This free dispersed camping area is centrally located between Salida and Buena Vista for your biking and drinking pleasures. With many places to choose from, great cell service and the Colorado Trail in your backyard, it was hard to leave this spot.
- Sand Dunes Swimming Pool and RV Park (Hooper, CO) – Located near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and the quirky town of Crestone, this RV park is inexpensive and gives you onsite access to a natural hot springs pool or soaking tubs…with local beer!
- West Fork Denny Creek (West Yellowstone, MT) – Want to visit Yellowstone without the hassle of staying there? This free campsite is perfect for that. There’s not a lot of space here, but if you can find a spot, it’s in the woods and right next to a stream with cell service. Gorgeous place to work, relax and visit Yellowstone.
- Fortuna Pond (Yuma, AZ) – We loved this free site because of the community. Taking daily walks around the pond was like visiting family and friends. Everyone loves to chat. We felt so comfortable there, we stayed a few days longer than planned. If you can get that sought after spot right next to the pond, it’s golden. While there’s not much to do within the immediate area, Yuma is mere minutes away.
- Forest Service Road 4610 (Bend, OR) – We stayed here and off of Forest Service Road 4604. There are so many places to camp for free in this area around Phil’s Trailhead, it’s a bit overwhelming. But just pick one; they all offer top notch mountain biking trails right outside your door and breweries only a few miles away.
Top 5 Favorite Stout Life Stories of 2020
- Harvest Hosts Breweries, Camping, Beer and Biking Guides – What more can you ask for? We did the research for you, so you don’t have to. All you need is a Harvest Hosts membership, an RV type of vehicle, a mountain bike and a sense of adventure. Free camping at breweries? Next to MTB trails? Yes, please.
- #DrinktheStory – When COVID forced many breweries to close their taprooms, people came together to support their beloved craft breweries. This is one way we could spread the word about the craft beer community and how that community continues to spread the love through craft beer.
- Take a Dive: Five of Our Favorite Stout Life Dive Bars – Sometimes it’s all about the dive bars. Traveling through some small farming communities in 2020, the only place to grab a drink was a small town bar. Turns out these bars have many stories to tell. Meet the locals or just people watch. And we now also head towards the dive bars and not just craft breweries.
- Not the New Normal – This was our response to COVID when it first hit. Never did we think it would still be going on. This is still our response to COVID and anything fucked up life throws your way. Bad shit happens, but good shit happens, too. Plus, there’s dancing at the end of this post.
- Re-cycling Our Way Into Used Mountain Bikes – It’s not every day you look at your bikes getting stolen as a good thing, but thanks to Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery in Denver, that’s what we did.
Top 5 Favorite Podcasts of 2020
Only 36 podcast episodes into our brand new podcast that started in 2020, The Craft Beer Travel and Adventure Podcast, there are already so many good ones. It was hard to choose just five. If you haven’t tuned in yet, start with these, and keep on listening.
- Black is Beautiful Beer Initiative: Brewers Unite to Spark Social Justice – Marcus B, Founder and Head Brewer at Weathered Souls Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas, decided to use his brewery platform to start the Black is Beautiful beer initiative. We brought a few breweries together in one place to talk more about why they joined this initiative and what they are doing to keep this momentum moving forward.
- A Candid Conversation With Brewery Owners During COVID-19 – Curious as to how breweries are doing today during a pandemic? Join us for a candid conversation with a panel of brewery peeps and how our beloved breweries are faring.
- Tall Tales of Wild Ales Rooted in Nature – We met with Paul Arney, owner and brewer at The Ale Apothecary in Bend, Oregon. Through tales of barrels of beer, working for Deschutes, and traveling the world, Paul’s intense love of life is evidenced in all that he does.
- 2020 Doesn’t Suck: And Don’t Let the Media Tell You Differently – The media can suck you in and spit you right back out. We’re here to tell you that 2020 was quite awesome, in spite of all the shit. We’ve even got proof from Single Hill Brewery. Join us as we chat about the status of the word today, and then get a knock on the door for a surprise beer delivery and a surprise guest on the podcast.
- Bikin’ Bits: Short Bits on Where to MTB – This is where we summarize the trails, so you know exactly where you want to go, how long you want to spend, how much elevation you want to gain and how much descent you want to fly down. And of course there’s a brewery recommendation at the end, along with our wacky sense of humor.
- Honorable Mentions – Like I said, lots of great episodes already. We can’t pick just five.
- Van-Lifin’, Mountain Bikin’, Beer Drinkin’ Idahoans – Moving into their van days before COVID, Jill and August, the creators of FlexFixx, pushed through. They’ll walk you through their van build-out, tell you how they decided to go full-time, and even take you to a dance party at the end. (You’ll just have to watch the video, too.)
- Sailing Life: Beer, Boats and Barks – Meet the peeps from Sailing Pivo, Danielle and Conor. Lessons in downsizing, sailing, traveling with a dog and becoming entrepreneurs. It has a bit of a fairytale sound. But as in life on land, the sailing life definitely has its trials and tribulations.
Top 5 Favorite Breweries of 2020
Our most commonly asked question is, “What’s your favorite brewery?” We never really know how to answer that; we have so many. We do know, though, that when we come across a brewery that we love, favorite it not, it’s usually because of the people. That being said, when we chose our favorites for 2020, they encompassed great people, but also had to have top notch beer and ambiance. Keep in mind, tomorrow our favorites could be completely different.
- Colorado Farm Brewery (Alamosa, CO) – Literally a farm, in fact a 4th generation farm, this beautiful brewery was a great place to spend an afternoon and a night while enjoying the Colorado brews and hops. With outdoor games or just a place to relax, this brewery will be one we go back to again and again.
- The Ale Apothecary (Bend, OR) – In the heart of Bend, this taproom will actually transport you to the farm with its all natural wild ales. Such a wonderful place to experience many unique brews. Paul and Staci will make you feel right at home.
- Superior Bathhouse Brewery (Hot Springs, AR) – We’ve been here several times, and every single time, we are greeted with love and great beer. Plus it’s in an old bathhouse, in a National Park, and they brew with the natural hot springs water. Rose the owner, and Jimm the brewer create many wonderful brews here.
- Twisted Spike (Oklahoma City, OK) – We inadvertently came across Twisted Spike on a hunt for breweries while traveling through OKC. We’ve been back once, and anytime anyone we know goes through OKC, we command them to stop there, enjoy a drink and then bring us back some, specifically the La Gitana Mexican Lager with lime and mint. But they have all types of great beer, and they remember us every time we walk in the door.
- Single Hill Brewing (Yakima, WA) – There are many wonderful breweries in Yakima, but Single Hill sucked us in with the great brews, but more importantly their friendly beertenders. We’ve always said beer is about more than the beer, and nowhere does this hold more true than here. You’ll just have to see for yourself.
- Honorable Mentions – Visiting 150 breweries, really, you want us to only choose five? Nope – here are a few honorable mentions because we do what we want.
- Crux Fermentation Project (Bend, OR) – With unique beers, a cozy indoor space and a huge beer park for outdoor fun, this brewery is quintessential Bend.
- Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR) – This huge OG bucket list brewery made the cut, while most big breweries do not. Why? Because their brewery still knows how to feel like an intimate taproom, keeping the Bend vibe going strong.
- Yachats Brewing + Farmstore (Yachats, OR) – Yachats is a tiny coastal village. And the brewery here fits the vibe with its nature-themed ambiance and truly creative brews.
- Shoe Tree Brewing Co (Carson City, NV) – We couldn’t resist including this cute, tiny brewery with great people and really good beer. Plus, it’s right next door to hot springs.
- Copper Brothel Brewery (Sonoita, AZ) – From the moment we walked in the door, we were home. This family owned brewery in small town Southern Arizona knows how to brew beer and create great food, but more importantly, they know how to create community. Celebrating women in their own unique way, visiting Copper Brothel is just like visiting your favorite family members.
Top 5 Favorite Standing Colorado Breweries
Home is Colorado, there’s no way in hell we can choose one brewery from Colorado; therefore, Colorado has its own category. You would think narrowing the choices down to one state would help…Nope!
Also, these are our standing favorites. Anyone want to try and bump somebody out? You’ve gotta lot of work to do in order to do so.
- Guanella Pass Brewery (Georgetown and Empire, CO) – These quaint little mountain towns, both just off of I-70 and close to the front range, not only have great beer, but their beertenders are the absolute best. We say it often, breweries are about the people, and Guanella Pass has some of the best people on this planet.
- Broken Compass Brewing (Breckenridge, CO) – Breckenridge, Colorado! Do I really have to say more? Fine! Using old ski lifts as chairs and views of the mountains, and with a coconut porter to die for, this place is home anytime we are in the mountains. Actually, we often make a trip to Breck, just for this brewery.
- Woods Boss Brewing Company (Denver, CO) – Can’t get to the mountains today? Hit up Woods Boss instead. Crafted after the beauty of the mountains, the ambiance will draw you in, and the 15 some taps with some of the best beers in Denver will keep you there for hours. Plus, Jordan, the owner, is an actual woods boss.
- Strange Craft Beer Company (Denver, CO) – Tim, owner, and OG in the Denver beer scene has created a unique space in the middle of an industrial neighborhood smack right next to I-25. While the neighborhood may not be inviting, the beer, the brewery, and the people, definitely are.
- Next Stop Brew Co (Denver, CO) – Formerly known as Intrepid Sojourner Beer Project, this brewery is creative, unique, and is devoted to travel, in fact, bringing flavors from all over the world to its beer. Unfortunately, it became a casualty of COVID in 2020, meaning there’s a spot open for 2021. While nobody can take the place of Next Stop, we do have an open space for a Colorado favorite. Any suggestions?
Top 5 Favorite Mountain Biking Trails of 2020
- Phil’s Trailhead (Bend, OR) – Ok, we’ve ridden a decent amount of trails now to be able to claim Phil’s Trailhead as one of our all time favorites. Of course, there’s camping and breweries close by, but the roly-poly-ness of these trails combined with shady pines and no hike-a-bikes to kill your climbing…These are awesome! You’ll feel like a 12-year-old kid again and wont be able to stop smiling.
- Durango Trails (Durango, CO) – Dispersed camping nearby, breweries in Durango and so much more, this place rocks. Did I mention the trails? So many places to ride, such as Horse Gulch and Twin Buttes, just to name a few. While some of them can be quite the bitch to climb and many trails have no shade, the beauty of this high mountain desert and the rollercoaster fun makes up for whatever ails you. And don’t forget Bayfield, a small town just south of Durango with more trails and another brewery.
- Midland Trails & S Mountain Trails (Buena Vista/Salida, CO) – There are so many trails in this region, we can’t just pick one, so we just lumped them all together. There’s also free camping nearby both areas, as well as breweries that you can ride to when done biking. That, plus the trails are a challenge, yet so much fun. It is a high mountain desert, so be prepared for heat in the summer, but the downhills are all worth some of the crazy climbs.
- Black Creek Trails at Noccalula Falls Park (Gadsden, AL) – There’s such a variety of trails here, it makes up for the lack of a lot of trails. But you only need a few good ones to make for a great MTB ride. Alabama has definitely surprised us with its mountain biking trails. First, that there are any, and second, they are quite fun with real climbing and then real downhill! Plus, this one is located right outside of a campground.
- Buffalo Creek Trails (Jefferson County, CO) – These are the trails that we first learned on and then fell in love with mountain biking. With dispersed camping right at the trails, under the canopy of Ponderosa pines, this is also a very popular spot. So popular, in fact, that fees are required to park at the trailhead and camping fees are probably not far behind.
Looking Ahead to 2021
We’re not done yet.
- We teamed up with The Virtual Campground to bring you the coolest adult camp ever – CAMP CARPE DIEM – in October. We want to see you there!
- We’re excited to continue our work with Malteurop Malting Company to help promote the malting and craft beer industry.
- We’re hopefully heading to CBC (the Craft Brewers Conference) in Denver this fall. It all depends on that C Word.
- And we’re presenting at the BeerNow Conference in Austin in November.
Words of Wisdom for 2021
In the words of our friends at Campfire 12…
“Fuck Someday…We go now!“
Click here to reminisce on our favorites from 2019.
Go out into the world, and be merciless with your kindness!
Cheers to 2021!
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