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 best beer ever? That’s a tough question.
Having spent much of my life (and lifetime earnings) fulfilling my passion for travel, I’ve had the great fortune of tasting quite a few. That’s largely because everywhere I have been, the one constant that has always grounded me in a new place -- given pause for thought, and allowed me to truly appreciate my surroundings -- has always been the moment in which there is time to relax and enjoy a beer.
I’ve spent countless memorable occasions with Singha in Thailand; the beer will forever be close to my heart. As will the ice cold Gallo -- followed by a mezcal or two -- after a long day of studying Spanish in Guatemala. I will never forget the Cusqueña I enjoyed after trekking for five days across Salkantay Mountain to reach Machu Picchu. Or the taste, feel, and sound of sipping that classic Australian Victoria Bitter whilst sitting on a warm Sydney beach.
Admittedly, none of my most memorable beers were particularly “crafty.” It’s only really been since I moved from England to the U.S. six years ago that I began to appreciate beers beyond macro lagers. Even now, I’m nothing more than what you’d call an “entry level” beer guy. But even my favorite beers I’ve tasted in the U.S. relate to travel and exploring: lobster and a Lagunitas IPA on the beaches of Long Island; an ice-cold Corona on a boat moored at the sandbanks off Miami; a cold Anchor Steam in Sausalito after a long bike ride across the Golden Gate bridge.
My memorable beers are abundant. And I have the lack of fitness to prove it. But as I think through the many great beers I’ve enjoyed, one stands out above all: The best beer I’ve ever had wasn’t in a far flung place -- it was in my adopted home town, at the end of an amazing nine month journey that blew my mind, tested my limits, and unearthed emotions I’d never even dreamt of experiencing.
The time was approximately 4AM in a Manhattan hospital, shortly after my daughter had arrived into this world. I don’t remember exactly what beer I was drinking (which I suppose might defeat the point of this column), but I do know it was a fairly generic lager. After three days of labor ending on the ultimate high, the beer I enjoyed when my wife and I finally had a moment to pause and reflect on the past few days, weeks, and months was, without question, the best beer I’ve ever had -- and one that I’ll never forget.