Jessica Nash

In this column, we celebrate the best beers our writers have ever enjoyed. But it’s not just about the beer: it’s often just as much about the who, where, or when.

Fresh out of college, I'd moved to Atlanta, Georgia, for my first professional job. I knew no one, knew nothing about the city, and defiantly planned to stick with my Midwestern “you guys” without ever letting the dreaded “y’all” enter my vocabulary.

Across from my apartment at the time was a gastropub with a very strong beer list. One night, while still in the early stages of discovering craft beer, I saw Off Color Brewing’s Apex Predator as a new addition to the menu. My heart leapt: finally, I was familiar with something in town.

Off Color Brewing’s beers have long been a staple in my dad’s fridge back in suburban Chicago. As an avid craft beer fan, he keeps a great selection at home with appearances from a steady stream of newcomers, but Off Color’s distinctive black and white labels can always be found in the fridge.

Somehow I never managed to try the beer before that day at the gastropub -- but on that summer night in Atlanta, that first sip of Apex Predator tasted just like home. As I drank, I was flooded with memories of listening to Wilco on the back patio, taking in twilight at the lake house with my family. I felt a twinge of wistfulness with each swallow, as I thought about how far away from home I was; how alone I felt, and how so much of my future was still up in the air.

I finished that first pint and ordered another. With a bit of a sour citrus tang, some horsey, barnyard funk on the nose, and a crisp, easy finish, the saison is a great summer beer (although at 6.8% ABV, it’s deceptively strong!). Soon, my local beer store was carrying 4-packs of the stuff, and Apex Predator would become a staple in my fridge, too.

Now in New York, I’m still able to find Apex Predator, and I always smile when I pick up a pack. The beer always reminds me that no matter where we may be, we can always find a bit of home in any new place.