First off... if you have more than a week in Summit County get an Epic Local Pass and enjoy all 5 resorts there. You break even at 5 days. And if you are lucky enough to quit your job and travel across the country hitting breweries and ski resorts you can cash in at 3 resorts in Lake Tahoe too! This was my second trip to Summit County and it was even better than the first time... which is saying a lot!
|Brewhouse at Backcountry
My first day was at Breckenridge. Not the best day on the mountain as it was cold, windy and firm but the new edge on my board helped me enjoy a full bluebird sky. On the way back to the highway I stopped off at Backcountry Brewery in Frisco, CO which I also checked out 7 years ago with my family. The memory of my experience from that trip has faded significantly, but I can say for certain that this trip was a pleasurable one! The cellar guys from New Belgium (see Ft Collins post) also had hit "Breck" that day and we got to sample all the beers and chat with the brewers Alan and Wes as well and try a few up and coming beers they had out back. If you're really nice they will let on where the good powder is... or maybe not!
|Apres Hike Beers in Oct...
Last but not least was Vail. There are a lot of people that rank it as their number one mountain. I took two days to see for myself and could have used a few more. With such a dry year I felt lucky that I got a little snow each day, even if it was only a few inches. I was worried the holiday week would make for crowded slopes. However, the terrain was fantastic and honestly this place is so big it spread everyone out making even the President's Week masses seem small. In the spirit of craft brewing camaraderie I stayed with Mark Freytag who used to be a competing brewery rep for Saranac/FX Matt/Lake Placid Brewery before moving out west to commit to more ski days a year. Not a bad life as he gets dozens more days in the snow than I do and has a mug on the rack at Garfinkel's, a great Apres ski bar if you want something a little less fancy than Vail's other offerings. He was happy to help lighten the load of beers I had picked up throughout the past week touring breweries. I also thanked him with my last bottle of Harpoon Leviathan Baltic Porter that had aged a year in my cellar. With all the craft brews I brought along we didn't really have time to check out the local brewpub Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. I suppose we'll have to come back again... that would be a pity!
|Early Bird gets the Powder! ...even if it was just a little
|Lionshead Village from Vail Gondola
|Tavern on the Square: Apres ski fuel! Southwest Chopp'd Salad and Brussels sprouts with Chorizo and Manchego.
The beer list is pretty good too!