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.
What makes a best beer the best? Incredible taste doesn’t hurt. The warm feeling you get in your ears and toes is awfully nice. But I’d go so far as to say that my best beer—one that resides within the annals of my being—achieved its status because of the people I shared it with and the feelings that accompanied that experience.
Funnily enough, my best beer wasn’t one I even consumed. After all, I was only six. It was a hot summer day in 1985, and rather than concerning myself with the latest breakdancing move or Reagan-era economics, I was running around the yard kicking my soccer ball. I had big plans to dethrone Pelé as the greatest player of all time.
In my periphery, my mom and dad were hustling to complete their yard work before they could enjoy the earned relaxation that was to follow. Dad was racing up and down our sloping property on a ‘70s era John Deere riding mower, while mom raked the lawn clippings in his wake. I would have helped, but I had a World Cup to attend to.
Following the celebration of an imaginary goal, I’d heard the mower’s engine lower from a roar to a low purr before it stuttered and shut off: the much anticipated signal that the day’s work had come to a close. From our corners of the yard, we gathered at the garage fridge, where my parents popped open two, well-earned Budweisers, and a Coke for me. The three of us instinctively reported to the front steps, which had become our weekend perch to observe the rest of the neighborhood as it worked through chores to achieve the same outcome.
There was no place I felt safer than squeezed in between my two parents on those front steps on a summer afternoon. Time had frozen in the most perfect way, much as this memory is etched on my mind. I delighted in taking part in that weekend ritual, and plan on having a similar one someday with my wife and son.
Incidentally, the last time I was home at my parent’s house, I came across a rusted old Budweiser can in the woods. Could it have been from one of those hot summer days 31 years ago? I’d like to think so.