It was on a backpacking trip through Utah’s Canyonlands National Park in 1997 when the idea for transportable beer first took shape in Pat Tatera’s mind. He was traveling with a friend, and the duo carefully planned out how they’d be able to drink beer on the trip—a necessity of every adventure.
They snagged a 12 pack from Moab Brewery, stored it in a cooler with ice, and stashed it in their car that was parked at the trailhead. By the time afternoon rolled around, they had gotten to their destination. Upon reaching what Tatera described as “an awe-inspiring section of the park,” they realized this would have been the perfect moment to take in the beautiful landscape with a beer in hand—but the beer was in the car. After an hour or so, the two called it a day and headed back to the trailhead to break into their brews.
“Since that day it’s been my mission to make a portable beer for backcountry travelers. Over the next 15 years I made many attempts to develop a concentrated beer. However, each attempt was met with much frustration. Then one day while sipping a Sol and gazing out at the ocean, the hydro minimal fermentation idea hit me—instead of focusing on removing the water from the beer to form a concentrate, don’t add the water to begin with! This singular thought sparked a chain reaction of elegant steps around complex problems, which [led] to the HBT process,” Tatera wrote on Pat’s Backcountry Beverages—the result of his initial idea.
It was being able to provide outdoors enthusiasts with an easily transportable beer that inspired Tatera to form the company in Alaska in 2008. Two years later, he moved the company to Colorado to really get the business going.
After meeting Tatera through a mutual friend, Scott Kinsey, who already worked in the beverage industry at the time, wanted to be part of the company that was focused on creating a product no one had ever thought of before. “It’s an industry first,” said Kinsey, who now serves as the vice president of sales and marketing at Pat’s Backcountry Beverages.
Although Tatera’s initial idea was for beer, something most of us enjoy, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. “Commercially, we were able to come to market faster with sodas. With the beer, the feds didn’t quite know how to classify us,” Kinsey said with a laugh.
The sodas are available in Cola, Ginger Ale, Lemon Lime, Pomegranate Cola, and RootBeer. They’re made from all-natural pure cane juices, don’t have preservatives, and include vitamins C, B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12. If you’re really interested in making your own concoctions, check out this recipe for spicy cola published on the Pat’s Backcountry Beverages website.
“We recommend having kids make their own sodas in the Carbonator Bottle. This way kids can learn all about what they are making and have an all-natural reward for their efforts,” Kinsey said.
But when the beers finally launched, they gained quite a bit of attention. Available in Pale Rail and Black Hops, this was the first time a company had come to market with a beer concentrate. In short, the beers are made using Hybrid Brewing Technology, which is an almost water-less concentrate that contains the same flavor, quality, and ABV content of a micro brew.
“Unlike other concentrate processes, this is not just about brewing the beer and then removing the water afterwards (which is extremely energy inefficient). Instead, our HBT process allows us to start with almost no water and carefully control the environment of the fermentation. All you do is add water, carbonate (using the carbonator bottle), and enjoy,” the website states. To see exactly how the beer is made, check out the video at the end of the article.
The carbonator bottle retails for $39.95, while the portable carbonator kit is $49.95, which includes the bottle, five soda packets, and five activator packets. The two beer options are available for purchase through specific retailers, and users are able to search the one they’re closest to through the product description pages.
In addition to providing high-quality beverages in the outdoors, the company was created with three main ideas in mind—shipping and transportation, packaging and waste, and the global water crisis. In regard to packaging and waste, the website states, “Packaging is just another word for waste. Whether it’s aluminum, plastic, or glass, they all represent a non-sustainable system of delivering water-based beverages to consumers. Think about it. We are abusing precious resources to package what is essentially water.”
Compared to carrying a 12-ounce can, Pat’s beverage packets weigh 87 percent less and take up 89 percent less space. This is especially important for those traveling with only a pack on their backs for days at a time. Not to mention, the carbonator bottle is reusable and is perfect for carrying water when you’re not in the mood for a soda or a beer. “We’re talking about a very big difference in space,” Kinsey said.
As far as the response, he said it’s been extremely positive. “From people who are hardcore backpackers and understand the dilemma we’re looking to solve, the response has been overwhelming. This hardcore community gets it, but the mass public still has a lot of questions.”
And although he said getting more people to support the brand is a huge goal, he admitted that it’s a niche product that may not be ideal for everyone. “Any activity where you’re limited on weight and space—that’s who this product is meant for,” he said.
While the company currently only offers the two beers, Kinsey said a new beer will be released this fall and plans have already begun on a fourth beer that is scheduled for release next summer.
“While we’re happy with where we are right now, between our current production demands and our growing relationships with commercial breweries, we are in the process of significantly upping our capacity.” he said.
In addition to increasing product distribution and expanding on current offerings, Kinsey said he and the team understand the hesitation, especially from beer experts, about trying a brew from concentrate. “We really want people to try it and form their own opinions,” he said. That notion led to an idea for a blind taste testing campaign that Kinsey is currently working on in association with Backbone Media.
“We get it—traditional brewing is very specific about water, and here we are telling people to go filter some from a stream,” he said. “Sure, you get a bit of variation in taste because of the different kinds of water, but that’s part of the charm. Typically, high country water is pretty clear. Just give it a try.”
To learn more, visit the Pat’s Backcountry Beverages website and check out the video below to see how the beer is made.
Images courtesy of Pat's Backcountry Beverages/Backbone Media