It’s hard to believe, but when Rachel Wood and Brandon Fralic came up with the idea to write a guidebook on hiking and beer just five years ago, Bellingham – as well as the entire state of Washington – only had half as many breweries as it does today.
Incredulously, hiking was also less popular way back then. According to a recent Seattle Times article, the number of Seattle-area hikers has doubled since 2008, and the increase in the number of hikers is seven times greater than the population growth over the past decade. Annual Discover Pass sales for Washington State Parks have also increased 55% in the last five years.
Even though post-hike beers are nothing new to many hikers, Wood and Fralic were definitely on to something when they launched their Beers at the Bottom blog in 2013, which highlighted hiking trails and craft breweries in Western Washington. Since then, they’ve been on hundreds of hikes and sampled countless brews at home and abroad, and they’ve published many stories on the growing connection between hiking and beer – both of which continue to surge in popularity.
In their recently released book, “Beer Hiking Pacific Northwest,” co-authors Wood and Fralic share 50 carefully selected hikes in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, and they “pair” each hike with an après-hike beer from a nearby brewery.
The stylishly designed, full-color guidebook offers detailed route descriptions along with interesting nuggets of information about the local flora and fauna, nearby peaks in view, and the breweries, which only enhances your overall experience. Each entry also includes directions, nearby accommodations, tourist information resources, and a description of the beer and brewery.
When Wood and Fralic were trying to decide which hikes and breweries to include in the book, Fralic says many factors contributed to their choices. Trails were often chosen for their beauty and their proximity to at least one brewery. Breweries were chosen for quality, uniqueness, outdoors culture, and more.
Since the book’s release, people often ask Fralic what his favorite hike-and-brewery pairing is in the book, and he struggles to answer – as he did when I asked him the question. “I will say the Pelican Brewery and Cape Kiwanda hike was probably the most natural pairing,” he said. “I mean, you track sand right into the brewery after the hike, and then you enjoy a beer with a view of the cape you just hiked.”
I may be a bit biased, as hiking and beer (though not at the same time) are my two greatest passions, and I have even written on the subject, but Wood and Fralic not only do a fantastic job of capturing the connection between the two in this book, but they also provide a true sense of the culture and spirit of the Pacific Northwest. It’s an entertaining read and a great resource for anyone who appreciates a fun hike followed by a delicious and refreshing beer.