Matt Niswonger

Earn Your Beer — A philosophy for living our lives

By Matt Niswonger

Earn Your Beer

Our trademarked Earn Your Beer t-shirts in action on a recent trip to Sweden.

About ten years ago we stopped adding our tagline, “Earn Your Beer” to the cover of our print publication. A vocal minority of readers was furious that we were promoting alcohol use in the outdoors, and after some discussion we nixed the tagline to placate those who were offended.

Even though we removed the phrase from our cover it still very much a part of our magazine. We still sell hundreds of t-shirts every year with the tagline on the front or back. Moving forward, this number will rise significantly as we begin selling Earn Your Beer shirts online.

As we increase our t-shirt sales, I feel it necessary to explain the somewhat cryptic phrase, and how it became a life philosophy that defines Adventure Sports Journal.

Many years ago I realized there are two types of tourists in Yosemite Valley: those who go to observe nature and those who go to wrestle with nature.

Yosemite Valley is certainly nice to look at, but why go there? You can scroll through pretty pictures of it on Instagram from the safety of your living room. In contrast, going to Yosemite as a hiker or a climber requires hard work, commitment, and usually some fear.

The same dichotomy exists on the beach. You can stand there and appreciate the waves from afar, or you can pull on a wetsuit, grab a surfboard, and paddle out. Just about anyone can passively observe the ocean, but surfing requires hard work, commitment and fear management in order to succeed.

Either path is a fully legitimate way to experience nature, but for those who take the harder path the beer tastes so much better afterwards. And the wine. And the ice cream. In fact, all of life is just richer and more pleasurable as a result of our willingness to wrestle with nature on her own terms.

As a lifestyle, earning your beer is not about alcohol consumption, it’s about challenging yourself and rewarding yourself every day. We want people to know that wearing one of our t-shirts is a celebration of choosing struggle and choosing risk in order to truly appreciate this wonderful life.

If you can relate to this philosophy, I’d love to hear from you. How did you earn your beer recently, and how did you reward yourself afterwards? Please let me know via email and we will publish as many of your responses as possible. My email address is

If you are interested in buying one of our Earn Your Beer t-shirts they will soon be available online via our website, Facebook and Instagram pages, and you can always pick one up at the many events we attend as part of the ASJ Roadshow. Just look for the red and black tent with our logo on it.

Send me an email at — I’d love to hear from you.