Before becoming a more serious sparkling wine and red wine lover, I drank my fair share of beer. With lower alcohol, I found out I was better off drinking beer than Scotch!! I still enjoy a cold beer on a hot summer day.
I have been fortunate to drink beer on every continent except Antarctica. Let me share with you some of my most memorable, though the price might be a little hazy and forgotten.
My most memorable beer was, of course, at the famous Oktoberfest in Munich, back in 1971. I spent the better part of three days in the Louwenbrau tent with three local Munchens. It may have been one of the best three day binges of my life! The beer was outstanding, but the company and the laughs were definitely over the top. We stayed in communication for a number of years, until my rather poor German language became a distant memory.
On our big trip to Africa in 2012, I started the trip in Addis, becoming deathly ill. During my recovery, I treated (medically, of course) myself with French fries and cold beer. My excuse was the beer was the only “clean” beverage available during my recovery. I lived on fries and beer for several days in Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Canadians love their beer, though most of their beer has 5% alcohol. I was in Montreal to present a paper with a colleague when we hit the bar after arriving at our downtown hotel. I distinctly remember it was a Molson, and it was so good, I had several. Needless to say, the practice for my presentation went a little awry later that evening. But fear not, my paper ended up being the basis for the very first book I published!!
After nearly getting stranded in the Atacama Desert with a crappy rental car, Mr. Mike and I ended up at a posh (for Chile) resort in San Pedro de Atacama. While consuming several, Mike made an observation. He noticed I would always drink the first two beers VERY quickly. Then I would slow to a lazy man’s bar crawl. And basically, that is my MO in a beer bar. BTW, the cold beer and the bar nuts were the best!!!
The best beer drinkers in the world are found in either Australia or New Zealand. So, after experiencing the fabulous jet boats of Queenstown, we decided to cool off the experience with some really tall, cool ones. Not the tall girls, but the tall beers! And what a friendly lot they are. So forget the New Zealand wines, stick with the cold beer and lobster. And never, I repeat, never, try to match beers with a Zealander.
A cold beer after a round of golf is always expected. When golfing on the Algarve in Portugal, we got paired up with a pair of well lubricated Limeys. After the round of golf, we proceeded to have numerous rounds of English ale. But the highlight occurred some hours later. As Mike and I were walking to dinner, we see the two Limeys and their wives. Both guys had shirts unbuttoned down to the navel, and huge gold chains around their necks that could support an anchor on the Titanic!!! It was a sight to behold!
Only on the Trans Siberian Railway does a pivo hold a special place. Pivo, of course, is Russian for beer. My first full day on the TSR required a beer around lunch time. Imagine my shock when the beer in the dining car was warm! Later, back in my roomette, I asked the Providnitsa (the woman in charge of our carriage and the Boss) if I could buy a beer. I gave her some rubles, and got a cold beer. Later, my roommate Michael from Switzerland went to get a beer, and got a warm one! It seems she sells the cold ones only to the passengers that she likes! Sure enough, I went for another beer before dinner, and got several cold ones.
On my very first trip to Europe, I ended up in a hostel in Amsterdam with a motley crew of young Americans. And of course, we did the obligatory casbahs and tour of the nearby Heineken Brewery. After the brief tour, everyone is invited to enjoy some Heineken. The girls we met from Germany were not beer drinkers, so we gladly enjoyed theirs as well. Now picture this! We depart the Heineken Brewery about 10am, the sun is blazing, and we are stinking drunk on about 5 or 6 beers each!! I will not bother to tell you about the kasbahs later that evening.
The most expensive beer is found in Qatar for $11.26, I will never go there. But the cheapest is located in South Africa, home of my good buddy, Barry the V. It is most affordable at $1.68. No wonder I drank so many beers in Africa! The average cost in the US is $4.75, probably due to the numerous craft beers out there.
The Czechs, bless their hearts, are the best drinkers in the world with 468 beers per person per year. But the Germans, bless their hearts too, spend the most, at $1900 annually. I love both places! I probably average about two dozen beers a year, mostly at Bulldog tailgates, or once in a while at home with a cold Corona. or 805.
We each have our favorites. My “everyday” beer is a Corona Lite, and my special beer is the Firestone-Walker 805, preferably on tap. But the Oktoberfest beer in Munich will always stand out as the best, for many reasons.