#07 Starbucks in Seattle/Coffee in Washington State
Samuel Adams' Boston Lager is one of the few brews around that is as much about place as it is about beer. The world-famous microbrew is associated with the city of Boston as much as it is with the beginning of the microbrew movement of the later-Twentieth Century. Residents of Beantown take pride in their locally brewed beer and so it was an honor to be able to enjoy one at the Samuel Adams brewery in Jamaica Plains.
One of my most cherished road trip memories is getting to visit Colorado, in general, and Denver, in particular. My dad had moved out there towards the end of his twenties and he always shared stories of his time out there and of his westward trek that ultimately landed him in Denver. It was a journey I wanted to take, myself, since first hearing these tales and so when I was finally able to do so in 2006, it felt more like a pilgrimage than a simple drive.
After my first true near-death experience (the brakes went out on the car during a steep descent along Mt. Evans--one of the 14,000+ foot mountains in the Rockies), I found myself at the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado. It was my first brewery tour and it focused on the beer that I associate most with my dad; what more could I ask for? Enjoying an ice cold Coors Light at the brewery is one of the most important, sentimental beer moments I've ever had.
#04 Mai Tai in Hawai'i
My honeymoon to O'ahu and the Big Island of Hawai'i was the most exciting trip of my life. On our last night in paradise, my wife and I attended a luau. Unbeknownst to me, there were unlimited free Mai Tais included with the cost of admission. The sweet concoction was the perfect libation for a fun-filled evening that involved fire dancers, Kailua pork, and one very tender inebriated moment on the way back to the car...
|(I booked the honeymoon through Expedia)|
Few things go together as well as meat and beer. Last year on my first long road trip with my wife and son, we visited Milwaukee on our way to Minneapolis. While we were there, we were able to enjoy a baseball game at Miller Park. Though we missed out on taking part in the pre-game tailgating, we were able to indulge in some of Wisconsin's quintessential treats inside of the stadium. The first thing I did upon entering was locate the food vendor where I purchased an authentic Wisconsin brat. Since we had just come from the Water Street, Lakefront, and Sprecher breweries, I decided to pass on grabbing another beer. Still, I was able to enjoy the best of what Milwaukee had to offer in the same day. For an East Coast guy like me, it was a dream to do so in the great state of Wisconsin!
#02 Having a Margarita at Margaritaville in Key West
I think it's pretty safe to say that there is no drink more associated with a song than the margarita thanks to Jimmy Buffett. Immortalized in both song and location, the margarita will forever be linked both to Key West and to the utopian state of mind called Margaritaville. Fortunately, Mr. Buffett had the wherewithal to launch a successful dining and drinking venture off of the success of his song--a place that encapsulates perfectly the spirit of the eponymous ville of margaritas.
After leaving the restaurant, we strolled around for a bit and realized that the sun was about to set. For those who have never been, the summer sunset isn't just a daily event to be overlooked--it is a communal experience. People flock to the best locations available to watch the incredible explosion of colors in the sky as night overtakes the day, washing away the sun's golden glow and replacing it with the millions of glittering diamonds that shine down from the heavens. There was no place to park and so, for the only time that trip, I relinquished control of the car to Heather and she drove around the block while I tried to snag a few pictures of the glorious event. Just thinking about it is making me crave both another night in Key West and another margarita by way of Jimmy Buffett.
#01 Enjoying a Pint of Guinness at Temple Bar in Dublin
Guinness is not just a beer to me--it's part of my identity. Though Budweiser is associated with the United States, Molson with Canada, and Fosters with Australia, all three have other beers that could easily be substituted in (and all three countries have other beers that are more revered and enjoyed, nationally, than the aforementioned ones.) For the great nation of Ireland, though, nothing is more emblematic than Guinness. A pint of Guinness, itself, is such a powerful symbol that it is distinctly recognizable from other generic beer depictions.
Guinness represents camaraderie, devotion, quality, tradition, and myriad other elements that comprise the Irish (and Irish-American) identity. The Temple Bar region of Dublin, in turn, is a microcosm of the global drinking community given its quantity of pubs. No place is more recognizable than the eponymous Temple Bar pub (pictured at right).
Though the Perfect Pint that I poured at the Guinness Brewery is, without question, the most memorable pint that I have ever enjoyed, I would argue that the one I had at Temple Bar had the most sentimental value. I viewed my trip to Ireland as a pilgrimage of sorts--a cultural homecoming that culminated with that pint in that place.
So that's my list! Of course, as I mentioned before, there are still a number of drinking experiences that I have yet to enjoy, including attending an authentic Oktoberfest celebration, visiting an authentic Trappist brewery, visiting the Heineken brewery, and touring any number of West Coast breweries while sampling their tremendous IPAs. I'd love to know that your list consists of (or would consist of, if it's a "wish list" of places), so leave a comment and let me know!