This is the definitive list of the best beers to take on a fishing trip!
Here are the best beers to take on your boat for your next fishing trip. You can forget the rest in the mile-long beer aisle.
SEE MORE: Top 10 Cooler/Ice Chests for Spring
Nobody I know refers to any Leinenkugel’s beer as a Leinenkugel beer. The brewery and the beer are always simply Leinies.
Leinies Original is the first real beer I have a distinct time and place memory of purchasing at a tavern. I was on a fishing trip in northern Wisconsin with a high school buddy. We were in Hayward, the home of the Fishing Hall of Fame, in the famous Moccasin Bar. The Moccasin is a distinctly Wisconsin bar and was a legitimate roadside attraction long before roadside attractions had been labeled as such.
My buddy and I pulled up a stool and sat at the bar where the regulars – the “old guys” – sat. We each ordered a Leinies and a strip of beef jerky, and did our best to soak up as much ancient fishing mojo as we could from the place (and boy, was it ever packed with fishing mojo).
Leinies has ever since been the standard by which all other fishing beers are measured. Sure, I may prefer the taste of other beers from time to time, depending on circumstance. But none match that first Leinies in helping to define a moment, a place and the kind of outdoors lifestyle I wanted to embrace.
Any fishing trip into the northwoods demands at least a Leinies or two to christen it as a worthy adventure, but Leinies is also a reliable, flavorful and good quality beer. If I was forced to drink only one beer for the rest of my life (perish the thought!) I’d be quite content with Leinies.
Hamms is not on this list because it tastes great. It’s on here because for anyone over 40, or has an appreciation for vintage outdoor sports iconography, it MUST be on this list. Hamms produced some of the most memorable and iconic outdoors/fishing advertising of all time. Back in the day even little kids knew the Hamms theme song, and now those little-kids-turned-grandpas still know the words and melody.
“From the land of sky blue waters!”
Hamms is one of those beer-on-a-budget brews that is best served frosty cold on a hot summer day, from an ice-filled Coleman cooler in the middle of the boat, while casting for bass and northern pike.
Moose Drool Brown Ale
Moose Drool might be the coolest name in craft brewing. It’s a name to conjure visions of pristine rivers and fish eager to take a fly. It’s darn fine beer too; a very drinkable dark beer. Moose Drool grabs our attention with its cool name and northwoods imagery, but it staked its place as one of our favorite fishing beers when we enjoyed it with some pan-fried salmon steaks and potatoes. It’s a perfect “fresh fish for dinner” brew.
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
A classic in the craft beer movement, Pale Ale remains a noteworthy and exceptional beer, perfect for spring steelhead fishing or any outing where the temperature calls for a tee-shirt and spinning or fly rod. Sierra Nevada is a company that makes great beer and promotes fisheries conservation and sustainable business practices. For example, they’re a regular financial contributor to the Western Rivers Conservancy. If you enjoy good beer and fishing, this is a match made in heaven.
Fat Tire Amber Ale
New Belgium Brewing has an excellent line of beers. Fat Tire is the flagship beer in the New Belgium line and is still my go-to brew for a day on the water, no matter what the season. When New Belgium first entered Wisconsin we were very excited. Couldn’t get enough of the stuff. You can bet it went into the cooler on many fishing trips.
In addition to Fat Tire’s outstanding flavor, it’s great to buy beer from a company that also helps fund the conservation of threatened waterways and fisheries. New Belgium Brewing does that and more. They’ve also led the way in supporting the Save the Colorado River Project. Great beer, great ethics.
I readily admit that I’m a sucker for packaging and presentation. That alone would have demanded that I’d give Alaskan Amber a try. But this beer is so excellent that it’s become a member of my varsity beer team. It’s a rich, smooth beer that does the job when salmon are the target, either pursuing or on the table. Alaskan Amber was voted “Best Beer in the Nation” in the 1988 Great American Beer Festival Consumer Poll. It could well win any “Best Beer in Camp” competition too. You owe it to yourself to add this one to your essential fishing gear list.
Three Beaches Honey Blonde
If you live outside the Upper Midwest states of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Indiana (I don’t know why Michigan is not in this company) you might be out of luck. Tyranena is a craft brewer in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, and their distribution is limited to the states mentioned. That’s good for those of us who live up here in the northwoods, because Tyranena makes some fantastic beer. Their Bitter Woman IPA and Rocky’s Revenge bourbon barrel aged brown ale are something special.
But it’s their Three Beaches Honey Blonde that is the beer of choice when you’re fishing with a gang that includes folks who like an easily accessible beer with enough flavor and charm to please the more adventurous drinkers as well. Not to sound sexist, but Three Beaches is often the favorite beer of the fisherwomen in our circle.
Lakemaid: The Original
There is no other beer on the market that has so directly and humorously staked their claim as the fisherman’s beer as has Lakemaid. The full name of their main beer (in a beer line of two) is “Lakemaid: The Original Fisherman’s Lager.” We just call it Lakemaid.
Their Frosty Winter Lager is, as you might guess, brewed with the ice fisherman in mind. Lakemaid was originally a collaborative effort from Rapala, the fishing lure company, and Schell Brewing out of New Ulm, Minnesota. I believe the beer is now brewed year-round in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Distribution, like Tyranena, is limited to the Midwest, but includes eight states in total.
Lakemaid is not a fine, craft beer, but by golly it demands to be a part of as many fishing trips as possible, for reasons of pure fun if nothing else. But it a great session beer too. What other beer has multispecies freshwater mermaids as its logo? I’d call it the greatest bluegill and walleye fishing beer ever made!
Burning River Pale Ale
Great Lakes Brewing Company is another environmentally-conscious brewery. They give particular attention to helping fund conservation projects connected to the Great Lakes and its tributaries. Burning River Pale Ale is a fantastic beer, and a multiple gold and silver medal winner in the World Beer Championships.
It’s a bold, citrusy, hoppy mix of fine drinking pleasure. It’s also further proof that the real center of the craft beer universe lies in the Midwest. Please find a six-pack or two of Burning River and take it along on your next fishing trip. You’ll be glad you did.
Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout
Big Eddy is the beer you have when you’re back at the fish cleaning station doing the dirty work, or when the fishing day is done and you’re sitting around the fire recounting the ones you caught and the ones that got away. It’s a thick, rich, belly-warming kind of beer. The kind that will ensure a good night’s sleep so that you can get up early to hit the water again. I love this beer at the end of the day, when I smell like campfire smoke, fish slime and am that good kind of tired.
Care to dispute, agree with or add to this list of the Best Beers to Take on a Fishing Trip? Let us know. We’ll be glad to field test your suggestions and let you know if they’re right!
I’d like to give a holler to artist Dan B. Ware, who created the awesome poster cropped in the feature image. Here’s the whole work of art: