Monday, March 3, 2014

Product Review: Pat's Backcountry Beverages

Dry trail dust layered on your tongue. Sore feet. Aching legs. A tired body. Whether you have reached the summit of a mountain or completed a grueling hike in steep terrain. You did it! How do you cap it all off? An ice cold, carbonated beverage would be perfect! Even 12 miles deep in the backcountry, Pat’s Backcountry Beverages makes that a reality. Yes, you can make your own soda or brew your own beer in the backcountry, and it is surprisingly easy to do!

Two months ago, after reading about this unique system, I spoke with Pat’s Backcountry Beverages regarding the product and was intrigued. Founded by Pat Tatera nearly two decades ago, the company was built to produce an eco-friendly way to make beverages with a much smaller carbon footprint.

From their website:

Introducing the most environmentally-responsible carbonated beverage system on earth! This awesome little addition to your gear list is engineered with an emphasis on rugged durability and first of it's kind functionality. In it's more docile state, it functions as your standard, everyday water bottle (yawn). However, when you decide to kick it into high gear and unleash the technology hiding under it's cap, you get a burst of refreshing carbonation to energize any beverage of your choice. So no matter how far your wanderlust leads you down the trail, you can still enjoy a crisp, carbonated beverage anywhere on the planet. Cheers!
The carbonator bottle is lightweight and well constructed. It can be used to make your soda or beer, but also as an ordinary water bottle (but who wants to do that). It even has a carabiner clip attachment to be sure you don’t lose it on the trail (that would be a travesty). The activator packets are small and so are the concentrated beverage. Both will fit in your hand. I took two activator packets and two concentrated beverage packs and stuck them inside the bottle on the hike. It’s an excellent way to reduce space and protect the kit. I ordered two types of concentrated beer, the 1919 Pale Rail and the Black Hops because I had to do a thorough review for you guys. 

Let’s get down to brass tacks. How does it work!? The paper instructions that comes with the orange carbonator bottle are to the point, but can seem overwhelming as the paper is folded up like a giant map. There is an easy to follow demonstration on the PBCB website by Pat himself. I’ll be honest, I watched the video that Pat put together showing how to use it and I then watched it again to be sure I knew exactly how to do it. The second time was much easier to follow as I was sure to hold the bottle in my hands and repeat what Pat did.

After hiking 12 miles of steep terrain and enduring a barrage of rain, Brett and I were ready for a cold beverage. I chose to bring a 1919 Pale Rail and a Black Hops for us to share. PBCB highly recommends you use chilled or cold water to brew. I will be honest and say that while I had water frozen in my container, we hiked twelve miles and not only did the ice thaw, the water warmed up to slightly warmer than chilled. I only realized this after brewing the first beer, the Pale Rail. I won’t go through the directions in detail (you can get that from the video), but I repeated them and in less than two minutes we had a cold beer ready to drink. We split the 16 oz. and enjoyed it thoroughly. I made the Black Hops a few minutes later and when that was ready we split that, too.

Everyone has been asking me, how does it taste? The 1919 Pale Rail tastes great! Even with less than ideal chilled water, the flavor and aroma was excellent! We both agreed that if I had ice cold water it would have been even better. We both thought the Black Hops was ok, but not what we expected and it wasn’t as strong in flavor as the PR. Both were good, but the Pale Rail took top honors.

Overall, this is one of the coolest products I have reviewed and it is certainly one of the most unique. There are different ways to combine the different products available for purchase. I purchased the orange carbonator bottle for $29.99, the 12-pack activator for $5.99, and the beer concentrate was $9.99 for each 4/pk. I think that overall, the system is offered at a very reasonable price. Just imagine how incredible it would be to hike into the backcountry and use cold spring water to make your own beer? I eagerly await what new products the Pat's Backcountry Beverages team creates and I happily offer up my taste buds as test subjects.

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