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.

As a beer writer with friends in the industry, I've been lucky enough to try some pretty great stuff: whales of which men would weep for a mere ounce. I've had full verticals of Firestone Walker Anniversary Ales and Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stouts. I drank decades-old vintage lambics in Belgium. Once, I had sour beer served to me straight from Cory King's foeder at Side Project (now how the hell do you Untappd that?!); and nothing beats a Boston Lager with Jim Koch Himself.

But I still think the best beer I've ever had was one I enjoyed back in 2001, when I was just beginning to understand the true potential of the beverage. An unexpected downpour in Manhattan forced me to duck into the nearest bar to stay dry. Luckily, it was The Ginger Man, and I was instantly wowed by their numerous taps of oddball handles that seemed to stretch from one end of the bar to the other. As the only person at the bar, I was given the full attention of the bored bartender who slung me a menu as large as the program at a Catholic wedding. Still, I had no idea what to order (did I even know what an IPA was at the time?) so I chose the beer with the coolest name (I was 22, mind you). Once Stone Brewing's Arrogant Bastard Ale hit my lips, my world was turned upside down. It was so hoppy, so boozy. I would aspire to never again drink anything lacking in flavor.

So yeah, I've had "better" beers since. Hell, I haven't even had an Arrogant Bastard in years. But I've never appreciated a beer more than in that exact moment in time.