The recent opportunity to try Westvleteren 12 (thanks, David!) got me thinking: what makes a beer memorable? There are objectively great, world-class, special occasion beers – like the Westy – and then there are your personal favorites, and the overlap (or lack thereof) is interesting.
One of the greatest beers I’ve had was Singha lager over ice (!) in a bamboo-bedecked open-air bar on a humid-ass night in Buriram, Thailand after spending the day in the ruins of a Khmer temple. Let’s be honest: if you’re reading this, a rice-intensive pale lager probably isn’t what you’re going to ask for on your deathbed – me either – but that night it was unbeatable and I’ve never forgotten it.
So the Singha experience can’t really be revisited. But I did have the chance to try a personally significant beer again for the “first” time – Secession Cascadian Dark Ale from Hopworks or Portland, OR.
I first had this from its source, at a formative time, with some good buddies, and just as the Black IPA vs. CDA vs. American Dark Ale nomenclature fracas was bubbling over. I hadn’t had it since but remembered it as one of my personal favorites of … this style.
But I saw some fresh bottles on a business trip and snatched them up. The subjective factors of people, place, and emotion can be tough to separate from the experience of actually tasting a beer – how would Secession fare on its own after all this time?
Black with amber-red edges and a sand-colored cloud of fine uniform bubbles. Dank citrus standing in front of gentle roastiness (mild chocolate, Peace Coffee light roast Guatemala). Pine sap, tangerine, cedar, spice, cola nut, Swiss Miss cocoa, a suggestion of sandalwood. Tall flavors give way to a round, generous finish where the malt finally makes itself known. Citrus/pine and cocoa in dynamic balance on the way out.
Holds up. Really well. I’d drink it again. Wish I’d had more room in my suitcase.
How about you? What are your most memorable beers, everyday or otherwise?