Does it compare to drinking fresh, unfiltered Lambic in the Cantillon brewhouse – where the air is thick with the smell of over-ripe fruit and must? Well of course not. But beer isn’t just about flavour, aroma, technical quality, it’s about your enjoyment – how you feel when you drink it.
From the assault on the senses of a sparklingly fresh Ithaca IPA - drank in a Manhattan roof garden following a transatlantic flight - to the obscenely refreshing ice-cold pilsner drained at midday atop an Austrian Glacier, or the short glass of fruitcakey vintage ale sipped by the fire in Leeds as cold winds whip outside the windows – there have been more than a few contenders for the best beer I’ve ever drank, and nearly all of them have as much to do with how I felt as what I tasted.
The beautiful thing about beer is, to a certain point, its ubiquity, but more precisely its sheer variety, and how that variety changes across the globe and enables beer to adapt to the location, the mood, the atmosphere.
In a beer World where I often become obsessed with flavour, with innovation, with what’s next, sometimes it’s good to step back and think about the beers that really left an imprint.
As quite often, the beer itself is only half of the story.
This post was, in no small part, inspired by the excellent piece by Boak and Bailey on “Ten beers to try before you die”.