Lightening the load of beer in the backcountry

Patrick Tatera, founder of Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, believes in enjoying a cold brewskie even when you’re 20 miles deep in the wilderness. Find out how he's trying to lighten the load in the backcountry with dehydrated beer.

Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

This SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Summer Market recap is brought to you by Cordura:

Patrick Tatera, founder of Pat’s Backcountry Beverages, believes in enjoying a cold brewskie even when you’re 20 miles deep in the wilderness.

“It’s been my mission that there has to be a way to get beer in the backcountry without lugging glass bottles, cans, or a giant cooler,” he told SNEWS at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.

After 16 years of home-brew experimentation, his patent-pending solution is the Portable Carbonator Starter Kit (MSRP $39.95), which produces a pint of fizzy soda or beer by mixing water, an effervescent powder and a concentrated flavor gel in a specially designed 20 oz. bottle. The company introduced five soda flavors at the show, including Lemon Clime, TerraCola, and GingerTrail, and plans to release beer products by January 2013.

The process of selling instant beer across multiple states and over the Internet hasn’t been easy, however. When Tatera applied to the National Revenue Center (NRC), the federal agency that manages excise taxes on alcohol, he kept getting passed up the chain of command by bewildered officials. “This was just a huge affirmation that we really were on brand-new turf here,” he said. “Even the people in charge of taxing us don’t know what to make of us.” Eventually, the NRC classified PBB’s beer products as distilled spirits because of their higher alcohol content and gave them approval to move forward.

In June Tatera moved from Talkeetna, Alaska to suburban Denver to simplify his company’s supply chain and to take advantage of the state’s liberal regulations on selling, sampling and transporting alcoholic products. But while outdoor stores can sell his starter kit for carbonated soda, don’t look for them to offer instant beer just yet. That’s because a liquor license is required to sell the concentrated beer formula.

Instead, Tatera plans to market his alcoholic products to beer stores, restaurants and craft-breweries, and he’s already begun navigating the maze of beer distributors, liquor laws and taxes that govern each state. Tatera’s dream, however, is to leverage his products to create a tighter bond between the outdoor and beer industries.

“The most gratifying and exciting experience for me at ORSM would be for some retailer to decide to get a liquor license to carry our concentrated beer products.”

Happy hour at REI? Count us in.

–Jason Stevenson