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.

My dad doesn’t drink beer. Never has. Not much of a wine guy, either. He’s more of a water man. But there we were, sitting in a big, touristy pub in Dublin, while visiting my brother during one of his many semesters abroad. We’d stopped for the obligatory father-and-son beer experience that we had seen in so many commercials and football movies. As our server wandered over to our table, my dad noticed a young lady enjoying a very small beer at the bar.

“I’ll take one of those,” he said to the server, motioning to the young lady and her Lilliputian beverage.

The server looked at him, then at me, then back at him. “A half pint?” he asked.

“Yes, please,” my dad said, proudly.

I ordered a regular pint, and the server left us, shaking his head on his way to the bar.

Soon, my brother and his friends showed up, and there were hugs and lots of laughter. Eventually, my brother pointed to my dad’s beer.

“What the hell is that?” he said.

“That, Son, is a half pint.”

We laughed pretty hard as my dad expounded the virtues of the 50 percent pour. It keeps cold; won’t make you feel full, he said.

To prove a point, my brother and I ordered full liters of beer for the next round. I still remember the taste and aroma of that beer -- a Warsteiner that smelled pleasantly of barnyard and hay -- and exactly what we ordered to eat with it, because it would become my “death row” meal: flank steak sandwich, plenty of fries (with mayonnaise, because...vacation), and the kicker: a fried Mars bar with vanilla ice cream. I can’t really imagine a more decadent culinary experience.

But that beer was so much more than the mere lubricant for a night at the pub with my family. Every time I drink a Warsteiner or any other beer that smells like earth -- or even when I drive by an actual farm -- it reminds me of my brother’s wanderlust, and how much fun it is to visit him wherever he is. It reminds me that his friends still call my dad Half Pint (or “HP”) when they see him. And it reminds me that the quality of any experience is based almost entirely on those you share it with. Good beer helps -- but it’s not everything. So keep good company, and keep drinking those half pints.