Why “Earn Your Beer?

Team ASJ: Pete, Cathy & Matt. Photo: Daniela Becker

Despite California’s richness and influence in the world of self-propelled outdoor sports, it’s a big and fractured community, just like the state itself.

As California’s regional outdoor magazine, we’ve been trying to come up with some metaphorical duct tape that unites outdoor interests of various stripes and sensibilities under one big canopy.

We asked ourselves: What’s the one common denominator that cuts across the wide world of outdoor pursuits, whether you prefer wool and knobbies or lycra and slicks, fat skis or skinny, one board or two, flatwater or whitewater, hiking boots or running shoes, sport climbing or trad, longboard or short, standup or prone, randonee or tele, ultralight or the kitchen sink?

The answer, quite simply: Beer.

Not beer in the indiscriminate, quantity over quality, juvenile sense, but beer that you can savor and enjoy in a state of contentment and relaxation because you’ve earned it with motivation and dedication to your pursuit, through sweat and energy expended, by braving the elements and the terrain, and by most of all getting out the front door.

Your reward might come after a hard solo workout, after a race with competitors turned friends, after a day in the backcountry or several days wandering through wilderness, but that bit of barley and hops will no doubt cross your lips with heightened appreciation, as if it were liquid sunshine.

As Adventure Sports Journal has grown over the last decade from a localized Santa Cruz-area magazine to a regional outdoor publication for California and Nevada, headquartered in Santa Cruz and Truckee, we’ve needed to define ourselves to new readers.

We’ve used a few different taglines — a sort of publication motto that appears with our title on the front cover — over the years to help communicate our theme, range and spirit; most recently “The Magazine of Adventure Culture” and “Inspiration for Outdoor Athletes.” But they all seemed too narrow or wordy, imprecise or pretentious.

Hence, our new tagline, “Earn Your Beer.”

At once breezy and lighthearted yet layered with meaning, it’s the one tagline that seemed to best encompass the spirit of the outdoor sports and lifestyle we cover in one simple frothy message.

The well-earned post-workout or post-adventure brew is a celebration of a vigorous life rich with outdoor activities, one that balances risk and reward, effort and payoff, motion and relaxation.

“Earn Your Beer.” We liked it so much, we printed up some T-shirts with the message, which we can be seen modeling at the San Francisco Ski & Snowboard Festival, above photo, and other events on our ASJ Roadshow. So far, they’ve been a run-away hit.

The genesis of the tagline can be traced to wisecrack Associate Publisher Matt Niswonger, who began using the maxim as a personal motivator and a verbal shtick to encourage friends and family to get out and get moving.

Readers of the former backcountry ski magazine, Couloir, which was published by friend and occasional ASJ contributor Craig Dostie for nearly 20 years, may recognize some similarities to the “Earn Your Turns” motto Dostie coined for the magazine and continues to use for his backcountry skiing website/blog, EarnYourTurns.com.

“Earn Your Beer,” you could say, is a similar message aimed at a wider audience. The parallel is that something that is earned is inherently sweeter than something that is simply purchased.

In legalese, “Earn Your Beer” might translate to something like “a justifiable indulgence.” On that account, Matt has been known to push that envelope to the limits of endurance and sensibility from time to time. For instance, he once rode a 24-hour mountain bike race solo drinking nothing but Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. He also solo climbed El Cap eating nothing but Clif Shots gel packets over four days. Both “experiments,” by the way, he has no intention of repeating.

To be clear, our new tagline doesn’t have to mean beer in the literal sense. Your reward might be lowfat chocolate soymilk or a super burrito or a spot on the couch with the remote.

“Earn Your Beer.” For many outdoor enthusiasts, whether they enjoy beer or not, it’s symbolic of the outdoor spirit.

So get out and earn your beer, whatever your reward may be.

Pete Gauvin