Beer is great in just about any given situation, but you could argue that there’s no sweeter beer than the beer you drink after an utter and complete failure. The beer I had after dislocating my shoulder on Heartbreak Ridge tasted pretty damn good. A few years ago, I spent the better part of a morning getting absolutely worked by the Pacific Ocean in LA. The lunch beers after that “surf” session were impeccable.
It’s like chicken soup when you have the flu. There probably aren’t any magical medicinal properties in that soup, but it makes you feel better. Therein lies the magic of failure beer—it’s comforting. I’m no expert, but I believe that’s one of the founding principles of country music.
And so, after spending a long, back-breaking and disappointing day in the backcountry of Pisgah National Forest recently, I was in desperate need of some comfort beer. It was a couple of days after Winter Storm Jonas dropped feet of snow on some of our higher elevations. A buddy and I went searching for some steep and deep. We skied for 11 hours straight looking for deep powder on one of the most formidable mountains east of the Mississippi, and came up way short. Eleven hours of skinning and boot packing a thin, crusty snow. One of the greatest storms ever to hit the South, and all we found was the melted leftovers. The powder was gone. Or maybe it was never there. I’ll never know.
In a situation like that, all you can do is sit in the crusty snow at the trailhead and drink a couple of beers. Sure, you’re sullen at first, but after the initial beer, you realize the day wasn’t all that bad. The powder wasn’t deep, but there was snow. We didn’t get any legit downhill turns, but we did spend the day skiing some pretty epic cross country terrain. Eleven hours on skis and a couple of beers as the sun sets. That ain’t so bad.