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The Boathouse Blog

How Much Beer?

So, how much beer should you really bring on your next river trip?

Allow us to tell you the story of every guide’s nightmare. A flipped boat? No. Forgetting the toilet paper? No. Forgetting the coffee? No. But that’s close. This is a far more haunting story. A story that goes back generations, and has been told over and over by guides and guests alike. This is the tale of the Accidentally Sober River Guest. It’s a sobering story, pun intended, about that person who didn’t bring enough beer on his river trip. Yet, despite its chilling message, the tale comes back to haunt our hallowed river corridors every year. 

The tale usually starts one of two ways: a recent health kick, or a tragic miscommunication.

In the first scenario, a guest decides to go on a detox before their trip. Dedicated to their noble cause, the guest brings little-to-no booze with them, thinking to themselves,“I can go 5 days without beer”. However, the hot temperatures, high spirits, and relaxation of a river trip will break just about any detox. Trust us on this one. 

In the second scenario, a guest texts their friend the night before the trip: “Hey, can you grab some beer for me at the store tonight?” Then, their friend shows up to the put-in with one 6 pack for the entire trip. What follows is an ugly game of blaming and beer rationing. 

No matter the cause, the tale always ends up ending the same way: asking the guides for their spare beers. Guides tend to be generous and understanding, especially when it comes to giving an empty-handed pal some beers. But trust us when we say, you don’t want to be that person. 

If you have been in this situation before, don’t be ashamed, for you are not alone. In fact, you are in the company of many river guests before you who made the same mistake, going back over a hundred years. 

The earliest known incident of the Accidentally Sober River Guest was in the early 1880s, when talk of ore and rich grasslands attracted brave homesteaders to the rugged wilderness of Hells Canyon. Among those were Alex and Bob Warnock, who set off to the banks of the Snake River in 1882 in order to develop mining claims and raise cattle. At the time, the only way to access Hells Canyon was by steep, and sometimes treacherous trails. Pack horses were required to bring in supplies, including booze. Not wanting to go a winter without libations, Alex and Bob packed a horse full of whiskey. When they reached a particularly hazardous section of the trail, the horse slipped and rolled, breaking all of the whiskey bottles along the way. To their misfortune, they spent the winter in sobriety. The creek where they camped became known as “Temperance Creek Ranch”, and the homestead can still be seen on the banks of the Snake River today. (Photo credit: Temperance Creek Facebook Page)

How do I make sure that I don’t end up like the Accidentally Sober River Guest?

Good question. Here are some general rules that will help you avoid being that guy.

  • Don’t rely on your friends to bring beer for you, buy your own.
  • Don’t go on a detox before a river trip.
  • Do overestimate your drinking ability, you’re on vacation after all.
  • Do use our handy-dandy drink order form. Let us bring beer to the river for you so you don’t forget.

So, how do I know that I brought enough?

A seasoned river guide once told me that you should bring one beer, per river mile, per person. For a 5 day trip in Hells Canyon, that would be 80 beers/person. For the Lower Salmon, it would be 62 beers/person. If math isn’t your thing, or that amount of beer sounds crazy, then go with your intuition. A good way to know that you have brought enough beer is when you start to question “am I bringing too much beer?”. . . Then buy one more 12 pack. 

Not a beer drinker? The same rules apply to any of your favorite beverages. If you want it, then bring a lot of it. 

Keepin’ it cold

If you’re sitting there thinking, how am I going to keep all of this beer cold, in the backcountry, in a hot canyon, for 4-5 days? Don’t fret. We have got you covered. We bring plenty of coolers on each trip to keep all of your favorite drinks cold. We also bring a massive cooler specifically dedicated to ice. This means that you can still crack open a cold beer by the end of the trip. 

Congrats! Now you are an expert in beverage-preparedness! Come enjoy a beer (or three) on the river with us. Book a trip with us today.