Interview of Beers at the Bottom
So Much More Than a Hike and a Beer!
We've recently had the pleasure of connecting with a couple of fellow hikers and bloggers through social media. They are Brandon & Rachel of Beers at the Bottom. We were honored when they asked to interview us for their website and we felt that interviewing them, in return, would be a great opportunity. As their name suggests, after a good hike they head back to the bottom and find a local brewery for a couple of brews. Find out more about them below.
Questions & Answers
Tell us a little about yourselves and Beers at the Bottom
We are Brandon and Rachel of Bellingham and Kirkland, respectively. We started Beers at the Bottom in 2013 when we both lived in Bellingham. Because we often found ourselves at the nearest brewery after a hike, we decided to start a blog combining two of our favorite activities.
Who have you met through your work at Beers at the Bottom?
So many wonderful people! We were fortunate enough to be invited on a Bellingham Beer Week media tour shortly after starting our blog. This gave us the opportunity to meet fellow outdoors and beer writers like Adam Sawyer and Joe Wiebe — both successful authors today. Meeting such inspirational folks early on has been one of the keys to our success as bloggers.
We’ve also met lots of great bloggers through Twitter, like ABV Girl and these cool cats called “Pacific North Wanderers”!
How do you keep coming up with new material for your blog?
Fortunately our subject matter lends itself to endless exploration. There are countless trails in the Pacific Northwest, and over 300 breweries in Washington alone. We may never run out of story ideas.
In the beginning, we produced a lot of content on the site, but most of our comments and likes came from family and close friends (thanks guys!). How could we grow our audience? We realized that our blog was becoming a portfolio — a platform for bigger and better things. Today we blog less frequently because we stay busy writing for other outlets.
We notice your blog offers a Trails & Ales Journal, what inspired this?
Short version: Brandon had this crazy idea…
Long version: The inspiration behind our Trails and Ales Journal is simple: we like to record our adventures. That’s why we blog! But many of our stories go untold because we don’t take the time to write them down. Throwing a dual-purpose journal in the backpack reminds us to take notes while we’re out there — both on the trails we hike and the ales we drink. We designed the journal together, and Rachel created original artwork for them. They are available for sale on our website.
How often do you hit the trails?
As often as possible! Usually every-other weekend together. Brandon gets out more during the week because his schedule is more flexible.
What is your favorite park in Washington? State or national.
Rachel: My family camped on the Olympic coast every summer until I was in high school. The Hoh rainforest along with Kalaloch and Ruby Beaches were places of absolute wonder to me. Now though, I find that it’s really the North Cascades I dream of when I’m sitting in Seattle traffic — Alpine lakes and talus slopes populated by pika have become a place I feel at home.
Brandon: Tough call. My favorite Washington State Park is Deception Pass, because I grew up camping and hiking there and it’s one of the finest state parks in the northwest. Washington’s three national parks are each favorites in their own way. If I had to choose one it would be Olympic because of its diversity — you get the mountains, the rainforest, and the ocean out there.
What is one item that will always be found with you on the trail, which is not part of the 10 essentials?
Rachel: Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm. Two fold reasons, one: sunscreen, two: I’m often asked to play model for Brandon’s shots.
Brandon: My phone for GPS tracking, and my Nikon D90 if I’m feeling ambitious.
Tell us one interesting, random fact about each of you.
Rachel: I learned how to sew via the internet. I have a deep love of Mid-century fashion and a dresser full of UFP’s (Un-finished projects) I’m still meaning to finish *looking at you Octopus-print dress*.
Brandon: I’ve quit more than one job to travel overseas, and I spent a month living in a Turkish cave hotel.
How would you share your love of the outdoors if you had unlimited funds?
First, a sizeable donation to the Forest Service to devote to maintaining the large network of forest roads we all depend on to get us to our favorite trailheads. Trail maintenance gets a lot of (much needed!) attention from amazing organizations like WTA, but the Forest Service is facing some major budget cuts.
Second, starting a program that gets kids — especially young women — out on the trail. It sounds really cliche, but these kids are the future — they are going to have the most to lose when it comes to our wild spaces.
Have you had any wildlife encounters on your adventures, if so tell us about a memorable one.
Rachel is actually a very proud member of Cascades Pika Watch and drives Brandon to near boredom observing these amazing creatures. We were watching these little guys up at Maple Pass Loop off the North Cascades Highway, when something caught our eye, running across the ridgeline just ahead on the trail. We both looked over at the other, just to confirm, and Brandon asked, “Was that...a wolf?” Silver, sleeker and larger than a dog, we watched that wolf just long enough to really see it, but it was gone before we could snap a photo.
What’s the longest hike you’ve completed?
Rachel: I will be honest and say that I am perfectly happy with 10 miles and under-- and the few times I’ve attempted more ambitious overnights, weather has not been on my side.
Brandon: The 19-mile Seven Lake Basin Loop in Olympic National Park.
We know that beer is a part of your trail tradition, is there a favorite food item that you bring with or enjoy after your hike?
Rachel: My trail food is pretty standard-- energy bars, granola, sandwiches. But I think my veggie of choice has to be sugar snap peas. So crunchy!
Brandon: I usually bring peanuts, a sandwich, and an energy bar. Post-hike, it’s all about the pub grub. Fish tacos, anyone?
What makes for the ideal hike in your minds?
Diversity. Two of our favorite hikes are Chain Lakes Loop and Maple Pass Loop for this reason. Both feature incredible mountain views, alpine lakes, and are non-repeating loop trails. We also love to see wildlife out on the trail.
Tell us what the future holds for Beers at the Bottom
More trails and ales! It’s kind of a secret (shhh!) that we’re currently working on a book proposal. Hopefully more news on that soon. We also have some exciting trips planned, including Walla Walla, Whistler, and Oregon.
Where can we find you online?
And there you have it! We hope you'll add these two to your list of awesome hiking and beer enthusiasts from the Pacific Northwest! One day we hope to meet them in person. Until then, Cheers!