A lot of my blog posts have been providing suggestions for types of beers to drink. The beer itself does account for a majority of the drinking experience; the environment, company and state of mind also plays a part in the overall enjoyment by the individual. Some might wonder why I don’t rate beers on this blog and it stems from a conversation I had in a bar with someone who has been doing this a lot longer than I have been alive. This sage drinker had sampled over 10,000 beers and told me he refused to rate them because he had run into too many situations where he enjoyed a beer one day and the next day he couldn’t enjoy it because the beer wasn’t the same. That one situation could never be duplicated for him so he couldn’t bring himself to rate anymore because his opinion could change so much.
This makes a lot of sense the more you think about it. I have had times where I sit at my desk and just sip beers rating them back to back. This has always felt too much like a data entry job, and those ratings were always rather dull. However, if I returned from a great meal with friends, I found that I had a much better experience and had more to say about the beer in general. A better example, one year my father took my family out for a Christmas dinner at the old Brickskeller in D.C. My mother was a little reticent about going to the beer bar my dad and I enjoyed; but she was open for trying something new. There was one Christmas ale on tap that we still cannot identify except for that the menu description overused the word “yummy.” That is still the best beer my mother has ever had, and she still talks about it today. That malty Christmas beer clashes totally with her love of IPAs. She actually enjoys them because they aren’t overly sweet, but it is that yummy sweet beer that is still her favorite. It had to be some combination of the food, company, and situation in general, but that proves to me that there is something to this environment assertion.
I have compiled a list here of 5 different ways to enjoy beer that I think everyone should try to experience at some point.
5. The Beach
I know, illegal. I am not endorsing any sort of law breaking but I think everyone should take the opportunity to drink a beer on the beach. The warm air, the scent of the ocean, the cool beer, and the fact that you are most likely on vacation….how could this be bad. One of my favorite experiences of the past few weeks was drinking a Cigar City Maduro at a tiki bar on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. That sweet rich malt flavor made me understand why a Florida brewery would make something like a brown ale in the sweltering heat. If it’s cold, it tastes good.
4. Business Lunch
Hard to come by in America because there is a strong social taboo on drinking when one is planning to return to work. This is the perception most Americans have because we assume that drinking at lunch means the person is going to come back drunk and unproductive (putting it nicely). This is far from the truth because most people really only have one beer when engaging in a business lunch. I relished this when I studied abroad in Brussels because the people there had such a mature mentality to drinking. Having a beer over there just serves to enhance the food and the dining experience, and isn’t the Bohemian counter-culture activity most Americans perceive it as. However, I won’t deny that the taboo does enhance the experience in America. It makes the beer a forbidden fruit that tastes all the sweeter when you get the chance to partake. I think everyone should get the chance to have a lunch beer at least once, but please keep it to one.
3. The Day off Beer
Every once in a while, the working stiff has to take a day to do SOMETHING. It can be to go to the doctors, anything car related, or sometimes we just need a mental health day. Inevitably, most of us find that we are left with extra time on our day off because most of these activities are really made more daunting because we think about completing them while also working. On these days you may find yourself sitting around watching day time television at 2pm. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s not 5pm, I can’t have a beer.” I say, nuts to that! This is one of the few precious days off that you get during the year and it would be a crime to waste it by not opening a bottle of nice beer and relaxing. If you have extra time on a day off, you frankly owe it to yourself to make the moment as special as possible. You will find this beer to be therapeutic as much as it is delicious. And it does give you some sardonic amusement knowing your fellow co-workers are still toiling away at the grind stone while you imbibe.
1 b. Shower Beer.
I know, this should be 2 but these next two beers are so much fun to enjoy that I couldn’t really separate them as much (as I wanted to). These two beers are even better if you get to enjoy them together.
I have been a fan of the shower beer ever since I had the epiphany after a club hockey game in my dorm room. Hey, I’m tired, I need to shower, and I’d love to have a beer right now….why not do both? It’s hard to describe how awesome this experience is when you first attempt it. The hot steam and the cold beer is unbelievably refreshing. You can really taste all the minut flavors of the beer while also gaining the added benefit of taking a soothing shower. I am so enamored with this activity that I vow to create some sort of shower beer holder if I ever have a house of my own. The hiccup is that the shower water can get in the beer so you have to be careful where you place it.
1a. Post workout beer
This is a new one at the top spot for me because I have never thought about it. Beer after exercise? Sounds terrible. Who wants to pound a beer after working out? Most of these criticisms are too quick to judge. What I am advocating is enjoying a nice beer after taking a moment to recover after working out. Always drink water and make sure that you give your heart rate a chance to return to normal. But after that, there is a lot of benefit to consuming a malt based beverage after exercise. There are a lot of carbs and a good amount of protein in a beer, which makes it a decent substitute for something like an energy drink. The best example I can give is tasting an energy drink before and after exercise. I have always found that energy drinks taste terrible but I crave them after I have done something like running. Clearly my body is desperate to replace nutrients and it interprets the Powerade as good because it needs it. Only recently have I discover that the same phenomenon happens when I drink a beer. I had a Fat Tire recently which isn’t always my favorite beer. Post exercise, I was able to taste the subtle roasted malt, the citrus, and distinguish between the different hops. I felt that my palate was significantly enhanced by the stress. After that I have always felt better if I have one (again ONE) beer after a work out.
Anyway, these only serve as suggestions that I thought I would share with all of you. Please make sure to enjoy these beers responsibly.