Recently, I shared an occasion that had me considering the emotional connection one can have with a beer-drinking experience when I wrote “The best beer I’ve ever had.” I put the call out to other beer folks and asked them to detail their “best beer” experiences for me for a series aptly titled, The best beer I’ve ever had.
For this entry, Troy Burtch, sales and social media guy for Great Lakes Brewery, publisher of The Great Canadian Beer Blog, and co-founder of Toronto Beer Week, talks about his best beer experience(s).
The short answer is that I’m still on the hunt for the best beer experience, trying as many beers out there as possible. That being said, there have been numerous times where I’ve pulled myself up to a bar, supped a pint, and exclaimed to myself that that was the best beer I ever had.
Here are a couple of those instances…
Years ago–and I mean years ago–I was the President of the Students’ Administrative Council at the college I was attending. One of the perks of the position was the involvement in running the student pub on campus. Right before the new school year started, a colleague and I were tasked with the hard job of meeting with different beer reps to see how we could work together for the year. We met with Labatt’s (who were pushing Alexander Keith’s and Labatt Blue), Molson’s (Canadian and Coors Light) and a rep from a new brewing company in Toronto – Steam Whistle. Being a Keith’s drinker at the time, I was swinging in their direction…until I tasted the Steam Whistle, and, well, today I’m a craft beer drinker. The beer, a cold bottle provided to us by the rep, was the perfect beer for that moment.
We were meeting outside on the pub patio and that bottle of Steam Whistle was damn near the perfect beer–the best I had yet to have, until one day in 2008 at the Victory Cafe…
I was working for the Ontario Government at the time, writing the Great Canadian Beer Blog in my spare time and contributing to TAPS The Beer Magazine (Canada’s Beer Magazine at the time), and I decided to walk from College and Bay to the Victory Cafe (Bloor and Markham) to cover the Orange Peel Ale launch party being thrown by Great Lakes Brewery. It was a hot day. The walk built up a huge thirst. I arrived at the Victory early for the launch so I went downstairs to have a pint at the bar with Peter Bulut. Jr., President of GLB. The bartender informed us that he had just tapped a pin of Granite’s Best Bitter Special, a beer I love, and that he could draw me the first pint. I’ve had this beer many many times before, but something about this pint was unbelievable. I’ll always remember that pint to this day. And the two that followed!
There have also been moments during trips to Belgium that blew my mind where I was drinking very old Orval draught with the owner of a local beer. The setting was right. The beer was simply amazing. The people I was surrounded by made everything perfect. Those glasses of Orval were the best beers I’ve ever had…that night.
I also had bottles of Unibroue’s La Fin Du Monde and Maudite on every table for my guests during my wedding, side by side with the complimentary wine, and each sip from those bottles that night were the best…
Like I said, I’m still searching for the best beer ever, but to be honest, I hope that I never find it.
I hope that the moments that lead to the thought “this is the best beer ever” continue to happen regularly, and frankly, with the amount of beer I find myself drinking, I don’t think that will be an issue.
Actually, the Audrey Hopburn Belgian IPA I’m drinking right now as I type this is probably the best beer I’ve ever had…until tomorrow.