Day 20 of 30 Days of Indie Travel Project, from BootsnAll
Prompt #20: DRINK
“Just as the cuisine of a place reveals clues about its culture and history, so does its signature local drink. What’s the best drink you had on the road, and did the drink have any connection to the place where you drank it or the people you drank with?”
Beers of the world
Beer and I did not start off as friends. Growing up in Virginia, beer was pale fizzy water that tasted like something between nothing and crap.
Then I moved to Scotland. I’ll never forget evenings in the university pubs, drinking pints of Tennent’s Velvet 70, McEwans 60 and McEwans 80. “You mean this stuff can be good?” I recall saying after a couple of pints… or it might have been that ceilidh (traditional Scottish dance party) at the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh. It was over beers in Scotland that I solidified many a friendship, and toasted special occasions, trips to other parts of the country or just another day of being in a different country.
In Galway, Ireland, I worked a while with a jeweler who gave me some sage advice, during a weekend hanging out in his home village: “Never drink the Guinness in the cities,” he said. “People are always in too much of a hurry. Only drink the Guinness in the villages and the country, where they pour the pint properly and give it time to settle.”
Sage words. Though honestly, to this day I just can’t bring myself to drink Guinness outside of Ireland at all. (I also can’t so much as think of vodka and Red Bull without gagging, but that’s another story entirely.)
In the U.S. Pacific Northwest, though, beer and I sealed our friendship. Beer was not just good—beer was bloody amazing. From the wheat and lemon of hefeweizen, to hoppy Northwest pale ales, to my absolute favorites: darkest stouts and porters, I have raised many a pint glass since moving to Oregon in 2000. I’ve toasted friends, fallen in love, planned next moves in life, and become evermore a Northwesterner over beers shared with friends and my wife.
From Scotland to Australia, India to British Columbia, Oregon to New York, I’ve shared a pint and friendship with those closest to me. In every glass, and despite the occasional hangover, I’ve come to learn much about beer, people and the world.
It has me always fondly remembering old adventures, and looking forward to new ones. It has me thinking of who I’ll see again, or who we’ll meet next. And it definitely has me intrigued, for the folks and countries of the world as are varied as their beers, and vice versa.
More like this: Urban Fantasy and Travel Stories from Rucksack Press »
What is the 30 days of indie travel?
Every day in November, the BootsnAll Travel Network is inviting bloggers from around the world to a daily blogging effort designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year (or whenever) have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as we like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on our own blogs. More information: Join the 30 Days of Indie Travel Project »
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Since 2004 Anthony St. Clair has been blogging about travel, craft beer, cooking, his new Rucksack Universe of travel fiction and more.
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