The Session #20: Beer and Memories

The SessionToday is the first Friday of October, which means it’s time for The Session—the group beer blogging event that brings together bloggers of all stripes to write about a common topic or theme.

The theme for this month’s Session—the twentieth, which I’m sure has to be some sort of milestone—is brought to us by Bathtub Brewery: Beer and Memories.

For the 20th Session, Bathtub Brewery threw our hats in the ring (our hops in the fermenter?) to host a Session topic you might not expect. I’m sure you were figuring we’d quiz you on the best pumpkin brews to pass your lips, or ideas for wild and crazy ingredients for a harvest ale. Well, that won’t be the case. Instead, I pose this question for you to ponder:

Is there a beer that reminds you of a specific memory?

If you’re thinking, “Huh?” then you might want to craft your response along the lines of “Whenever I drink [insert brew here] it reminds me of that day …” Or perhaps it’s the reverse. Oooooh.

I love this month’s topic, but I have to say that there’s no particular beer that makes me say, "This reminds me of…" in the same way that, say, a particular aroma will trigger a memory or a snippet of music will evoke nostalgia. That is to say, there’s no one specific memory attached to a beer that I can point to as a definitive example.

The thing is, I have a wicked good memory for various minutiae like TV (used to drive my wife crazy when I could recall all the details of any "X-Files" episode after watching a ten-second snippet), comic books, movies, science fiction, and beer. So I tend to remember the beers themselves and the circumstances involved in trying a beer for the first time, and a lot of the trivia surrounding that.

Right now this is probably best represented by the bottle collection I have going—one which I weeded out earlier this year, in fact, because I was out of room. Currently, the bottles I have "on display" are all either beers that were given to me as a gift or beers that were sent to me as PR for The Brew Site (and I’m running out of room again). I can (and do) point to any one of those bottles (or cans, in a few cases) and recall where it came from, roughly when, how good (or bad) it was, and so on.

But that’s not all; I can point to the bottle of Deschutes Hop Trip in my collection and tell you that the first year it was released, the label on the bottle had a different truck than subsequent years—as well as describing how I think the beer has changed each year with each new version.

Or I can pick a certain beer, or beer-related event, and recount in various detail what was going on at the time—for instance, the first time I ever had Arrogant Bastard was at the 1999 Oregon Brewers Festival and my friend Justin and I were walking along the northern tent when I spied the sign (the first I’d even heard of it), turned to Justin and said, "I feel like an arrogant bastard!"

(Yeah, as beer-related one-liners go, it was pretty lame. But we’d already been drinking and it was hot out.)

And I would subsequently spin out anecdotes of that trip to the OBF and then other such trips which would at some point naturally segue into stories and trivia about other beers of and beer trips to Portland.

So no, I can’t really say there’s a beer that reminds me of a specific memory—rather there is a lot of stuff rattling around my head and a lot of ways I can connect the dots from that stuff to beer. That’s how "beer and memories" works for me.