People say you can’t compare apples and oranges -- but people say a lot of things. Heck, some still say we never went to the moon, so who are they to say you can’t compare one fruit to another? Or, for that matter, cars to beers?
I’m an automotive enthusiast. I enjoy fast cars, slow cars, and I especially like ugly cars. If your ride has character, I dig it. But explaining why I like a car isn’t always easy using words alone. It’s often a feeling for which no word exists, a phenomenon I experience in equal measure when drinking beer. Sure, I could comment on the body, the hops, or the "banana and cocoa notes," but pour me a great brew and I’ll quickly get sentimental on you. (We just met? I’ll still cry.)
So I thought it'd only be fitting to bring cars and beers together, using one to describe the other, with feeling and emotion. Below are some of my favorite whips paired with the beers that best represent them.
Ford F-Series Truck
The car: Ford’s F-Series -- that bastion of Americana -- has been in continuous production since 1948. The trucks have been tweaked a bit over the past seventy years, but the fundamentals are always the same: a cabin for two, flatbed in the back, and the ability to haul shit. But it’s their reliability that turns customers into loyalists; drivers into devotees. Turn the key, she starts. Push the gas, she goes. Load her up with furniture, firewood, or that hideous yard art from your Aunt Betty, and she won’t whine.
credits:"[RL GNZLZ / Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/juanelo242a/12530123265)" align:center width:800
The beer: For all the truck’s charms, there’s little in the way of excitement. Few revelations will be made whilst behind the wheel of a F-250 Super Duty, and sometimes, that’s what you want. Similarly, when I’m tired, thirsty, and not in the mood to ponder, I grab a clean, reliable Pilsner, like Prima Pils from Victory Brewing Co.
Chevrolet Caprice Classic
The car: Introduced in 1966, and styled after the Impala, this was one classy rider at its inception. But by the 1990s, the designers at Chevy ditched the scowling front grille and whitewall tires, and offered the public something more reminiscent of a failed moonshot. The overtly smooth contours of this all-too-symmetrical beast gave it as much character as a Motel 6 parking lot, turning this one time classic into the ultimate “I don’t give a shit” car. Buying a Caprice circa 1991 was all about going from point A to point B.
credits:"[Alden Jewell / Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/autohistorian/17282306945)" align:center
The beer: Any cheap, canned, American light lager (pick your favorite). Like the car, the beer will eventually get you where you need to go, but you won’t win any style points.
The car: From Citroën, the vanguard of French engineering, comes this quixotic marvel. Its looks may not tickle everyone’s fancy, but upon its release in 1970, this was one innovative machine. From its hydro-pneumatic, self-leveling suspension to its self-centering steering and self-leveling lights, the car all but drove itself. But it was the ride that made it so special. She wasn’t the quickest, but cruise, she could. At the time, journalists raved of the ability to travel comfortably at 120 mph for hours on end, with Motor Sport Magazine noting, “that rare quality of being a nice car to be in at any speed, from stationary to maximum."
credits:"[nakhon100 / Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/8058098@N07/14521154082/)"
The beer: If this well-crafted piece of engineering were a beer, it would have to be Saison Dupont. Like the Citroën, there’s complexity (with hints of spice, hops, flowers, and malt), but its modest 6.5% ABV and lush mouthfeel make it a pleasant beer, at any speed, from first sip to last.
The car: My first car was a Subaru, an unexpected gift from my grandmother who, after failing her eye test at age 88, was kind enough to pass it along. A sturdy little hatchback she was, and with only 28K miles on the odometer, I found solace in knowing I’d have wheels through college, if not beyond. Two months later, I crashed into a tow truck and bent the frame. Off to the junkyard.
The next ride was on me, and with a net worth of $1100, my options were few. Fortunately, a neighbor down the block had a Nissan Sentra, said it "ran good," and could be mine for $1000. Sold.
credits:"[RN GNZLZ / Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/juanelo242a/15630963590/)"
The beer: Was my Nissan Sentra quick? No. But "run good," it did. With four gears and a clutch, I could wring out all the little motor had to give with nary a complaint. And while I turned no heads in the high school parking lot, the car was reliable, efficient (33 mpg!), and aimed to please. The same could be said for Hitachino Nest White Ale. The Japanese witbier -- dosed with coriander, orange peel, and nutmeg -- is flavorful enough to pair with a wide variety of situations, but mild enough that you also don't have to think too much about it.
Lotus Esprit (Series I & II)
The car: I’m convinced that, for the last thirty years, the design team at Lamborghini have been playing a joke on the world. The Diablo, first launched in 1990, was tacky, overwrought, and wholly without charm. Dissatisfied with the effort, the team persevered until, in 2017, they released the Veneno, dubbed by Edmunds as “…the worst thing to come out of Italy since fascism."
There was a time, however, when exotic sports cars were beautiful, and owning one made you the envy of every kid (and grown man) in town. Case in point: the original, unmolested, non-turbo’d Esprit, launched in 1976 from the venerable house of Lotus.
This wedge-shaped stunner, while not the fastest of its day, was quick enough, wringing out 160 horses from its scant 2.0 liter engine. But raw speed was never its calling. The folks at Lotus were far more interested in how the car handled, and they successfully crafted the Esprit into a lithe, nimble, and taut warrior on both the road and the track. They accomplished this through engineering and design, but most importantly, by shedding weight.
credits:"[Sicnag / Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/42220226@N07/25857563102/)"
The beer: The Lotus tipped the scales at only 1,984 pounds, less than half that of the aforementioned 4085 pound Veneno. Light and nimble, with just a hint of flair, it reminds me an awful lot of one of my personal favorites, the fruity, spicy -- yet straightforward --Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier.
The car: I like this car. No, I hate it. I definitely want to like it. But is it a car? Is it a truck? So many emotions all at once here. It’s like watching Beaches in 4K UHD on a 200” screen. It’s too much. I’m not crying...you’re crying.
The beer: This one’s easy. It’s a gueuze. We’ll call it a Cantillon Gueuze Lambic -- all that fruity boozy goodness blended together from different years. It’s a bit overwhelming, but it somehow all works. Like Bette Midler’s star turn as CC Bloom. I’m not crying...you’re crying.
Lancia Beta Coupé
The car: Nothing but trouble, these cars. Never seen one? Yeah, that's because they’ve all died. Never heard of 'em? Be grateful. For iron oxide (also known as rust), these beauties were a hearty Thanksgiving dinner. But even if you kept the tin worm at bay, the mechanicals, wiring, or power plant could quit at any moment, leaving you roadside to contemplate when you’re going to finally quit on her.
But you don’t, because the other side of bitter is sweet. There's no pleasure without pain; no success without struggle. And when this diminutive coupé finds a windy road in October, you reminisce about the time you broke down on Christmas morning, or in the Queens Midtown Tunnel, or on the Kosciuszko Bridge -- and in an instant, the bitter becomes sweet.
Full disclosure: I own this car. But you probably figured that out already.
credits:"[Tony Harrison/ Flickr](https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonysphotos/35819161452)"
The beer: Have I made you thirsty for a nice IPA? The bitterness is in full effect in a classic DIPA like Pliny The Younger, from the venerable Russian River Brewing Co.
Which beer would your car be, if it was a beer? I’d love to hear from you! Tell me in the comments.