Every skier should have one: a beer

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The Independent Travel

A "cost of skiing" index published this week by the tour operator Thomas Cook included a comparison of the price of a beer in the 16 resorts its local reps surveyed. The unit of measure was a vague "large beer"; the cost was converted into sterling. The research showed a very wide variation, the extremes being 70p in Romania's Poiana Brasov and £5.26 in Kitzbühel, Austria.

The price exceeded £4 in Geilo, Norway, and in Val Thorens, France; it was more than £3 in Chamonix, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes (all France), Heavenly (California) and Sestriere (Italy), and more than £2 in Saalbach and Söll (Austria), and Pas de la Casa (Andorra); only in Banff (Canada), Breckenridge (Colorado), Arinsal (Andorra) and Livigno (Italy) was it less than £2.

By choosing bars carelessly a similar differential would probably be achieveable in London's West End, if not the starting price. More to the point, the survey is vague about quantity, silent on quality. For advice on getting a good beer rather than a cheap one, I asked Michael Jackson - the leading British beer writer and a regular contributor to this newspaper - where he would go if he were ever to make a second attempt to become a skier. He chose Aspen or Vail in Colorado, "one of the best US states for local brews", picking out the Fat Tire wheat beer made by the New Belgian Brewing Company in Fort Collins.

In western Canada he would look for the products of the Big Rock brewery in Calgary, "particularly its terrific Irish ale, McNally's Extra"; for the Dolomites he recommends "Sixtus, a 6.5 per cent, dark lager made by Forst near Merano" (pictured); skiers in Switzerland, he says, should look out for beers made by the Monstein brewery near Chur. As for Romania, Jackson describes it as "a wine country".

And a good Andorran beer? "Heaven knows."

Michael Jackson's most recent book is 'The Great Beer Guide' (Dorling Kindersley, £9.99)