10 Barrel Brewing’s Beercat is coming to Aspen and Eldora this week. Meet the snowboarder who dreamed up the concept of a roving, slopeside beer pub.
Professional snowboarder Mike Basich retired after a decade of competing to fulfill a childhood dream of living simply, getting off the grid, and building stuff. He bought a 40-acre parcel on Donnor Summit near Lake Tahoe, where he built a mountaintop stone hut that’s solar powered for what little electricity he needs. “I learned that I really don’t need to turn lights on when it gets dark; I just go to bed,” says Basich. “I’m more in sync with the nature now.”
Basich started building tiny homes in 2000, and most recently partnered with 10 Barrel Brewing Co. to build the Beercat: a roving snowcat cum brewpub with walls that fold down into outdoor decks, revealing a beetle-kill bartop complete with 10 Barrel beers on tap. The Beercat is touring across the West right now, with stops in Aspen and Eldora in Colorado before it heads to California in late March and April.
We caught up with Basich, who was out working in the woods on his California property, to get the backstory on building the Beercat.
How did the 10 Barrel Brewing Co. Beercat project come to fruition?
After building tiny homes, I thought about finding a company to partner with. I said, “Let’s build something that doesn’t exist.” It would be a combination of the things I love: snowboarding and building. 10 Barrell loved the idea and put a lot of trust in me. They said, “Do your thing, and we’ll roll with it.” The idea came together midsummer 2018, and we started shopping for a snowcat. 10 Barrell wanted something with history to it, not a big resort groomer. We found a 1987 Spryte snowcat. October was the first time I picked up a hammer [on the project], and then it was a couple months of straight work.
What materials did you use in construction?
First I started milling trees for the bartop. I found a tree on my place on Donner Summit that I’d watched die five years ago. It was this white pine with an amazing striped pattern of blue stain from beetle kill. It was probably 250 years old. I got pretty passionate about it. It gave me a feel for what the [Beercat’s] style might look like. When the cat was delivered, I stared at it for a week. I fell asleep thinking about it, and I dreamt how it was going to come together. That’s how I take on my projects. There were frustrations and successes. The hydraulic doors were the biggest journey. The doors had to be strong enough to hold 10 people on unstable terrain, but the rigging had to be engineered underneath the cat where the treads are. It was a lot of trial and error.
Where will the Beercat travel?
I built the thing to be ready for any weather. The aluminum on the outside acts as a barrier that’s able to withstand 50 mph winds. It’s capable of going up any run that a groomer can go on. It’ll tour the resorts, and it might go to the summit or park halfway down. All of a sudden, there will be a bar in the woods. It can also go way out into the backcountry where people are snowshoeing or splitboarding so they can enjoy a beer at the end of the day.
Now that the Beercat is up and running, what’s next for you?
I’m going to be at the California stops on the Beercat tour, and then it’s time to get organized! I need to get my saw mills tuned up and tractors ready for the summer. I’m going to swap out the motor on my chairlift* for a smaller, quieter one. And I’m waiting for someone to come along with the next dream project.
*Basich built a custom chairlift on his Donner Summit property to access 200 vert of rolling terrain sprinkled with cliff drops. It’s a little one-seater with a 3-minute ride time and a lift capacity of exactly one. Roll out of bed at 10:30 a.m. on a powder day? First tracks guaranteed, he says.
The 10 Barrel Brewing Co. Beercat Tour
- Aspen, CO – Mar. 15
- Eldora, CO – Mar. 16-17
- Ski Bowl, OR – Mar. 23-24
- Heavenly, CA – Apr. 13
- Sugar Bowl, CA – Apr. 14