Good Beer Hunting

Fervent Few

Fervent Few — A Beer to Remember

We’ve talked about beers that set us down the path to becoming beer enthusiasts. And we all have our favorite beers in the world, of course. But this week, we asked The Fervent Few to talk about their most memorable pint. A beer they drank somewhere or with someone that they’ll never forget. The one they can still taste right now if they just sit quietly and think about it.


Caldwell Bishop: “Yanjing Beer. When living in China, it was one of the most common beers we drank. Life there was filled with both amazing and terrible experiences, and it was something that contributed to lots of fun with great friends, and helped with getting through tough experiences as well.”

Justin Hutton: “Mine was Russian River Row 2 Hill 56. I was on holiday in 2012 in San Francisco from London, where the craft beer scene was just starting to poke its head up. I was starting up a craft pub, so I had been trying a lot of UK beers and some U.S. beers that probably had sat on the docks a bit too long before they made it to us. I walked into City Beer store in SF, and the barman suggested the Row 2 and it blew my mind! The difference from that Pale Ale to what we were making in the UK and what we were receiving from the U.S. was incredible. Whenever anyone asks me about how I got into this industry, I always remember that moment and that beer!”

Chris Gartman: “Andechs Kloster in Herrshing, Germany. A liter, rather than a pint, of their Dopplebock Dunkel not only ranks as most memorable, but still my favorite beer of all time. In 2008, during my first visit to Germany, I spent time exploring my family’s roots as well as drinking heaps of beer. Andechs is set atop a hill surrounded by the Kloster’s farm. Their Biergarten is a terrace style overlooking sheep and goats grazing on fallen apples, combines harvesting hay, a maypole, and rolling patches of farmland and hiking trails as far as you can see.”

William Weber: “Mine was a glass of Armand’4 Lente poured for me by Armand himself when it was the only season available in the spring of 2011. That whole day was magical: getting off the train by Beersel Castle, climbing the winding cobblestone road to the town square, enjoying lunch and vintage Geuze at the 3 Fonteinen restaurant with randomly encountered fellow American aficionados, and finally enjoying the pinnacle of the blender’s art in the company of the master himself. A truly unforgettable experience with an unparalleled beer.”

Hank Hanna: “My moment was when I tried Sierra Nevada Pale Ale for the very first time. I was hanging out with the typical mid-to-late-’90s pseudo-hippie Phish crowd at the time, and a friend's older brother gave us a couple. I had tried other domestic beers before and didn't care for them. Sierra Nevada Pale introduced me to flavorful beer, but also hop bitterness. It was at that moment that I became a beer nerd. I set off on a quest to try as many ‘micro-brews’ as I could.”

Manny Gumina: “The first craft beer I remember drinking was a New Belgium Fat Tire from a Folly Pack. My uncle loved the Folly Pack since you could try different varieties of beer without doing a mixed-six. He would bring them to all the family parties. I was like 16 years old and snagged the Fat Tire. My family called me a little bastard, but allowed me to have it since it was a holiday. I remember thinking that it tasted like a burger. I'm 23, so craft beer has been a normal part of my drinking experience.”

Shane Pearson: “A memorable pint: Coors Banquet. Back at this time, liquor stores were closed in Indiana on Sunday. From time to time my brother and I would drive across the Illinois border and pick up a 6-pack of Banquet. This was the late ’80s, so Coors was still mystical and not easy to find. We were also under 21, but again, being the late ’80s, if you were over 18 and in a more rural area, no one cared, as the laws had just changed to +21. After getting our beer, we would hit this local Vienna Beef hot dog place (for those not in the Chicago area, this would be the good hot dogs) and get them to-go. We would head to a local park and just hang out, talk about the world like we knew something, and kill the afternoon. I can remember those outings to this day. I still love a Coors Banquet.”

Bill Kuhn: “I found my appreciation for beer in the first semester of my senior year of college. I went to a small state school in Oneonta, NY, and was fortunate to be close to some breweries that would forever change the way I thought about beer (as well as my career path). Although it wasn’t my first craft beer, Ommegang Witte remains the one that I think put me over the edge into the wider world of beer. I had had Pale Ales, Stouts, Porters, a couple Lagers, and the like, but had as of yet not been exposed to the complexities of Belgian beer. On a brewery tour and subsequent tasting at Ommegang, I was so befuddled by the aromas and flavors I was finding in Witte. I flip flopped between ‘I love it’ and ‘I hate it’ about 10 times in one tiny 4-6oz. sample. It was mesmerizing. From that point, I feverishly sought out more unique taste profiles. To this day, I’m still enamored with Witte.”

Mark de Leeuw: “Might not have been my first craft beer, but the one that I remember is a Dikke Lul Drie Bier from Het Uiltje. They just started brewing at the time and brought over some bottles to the bar I worked at in Haarlem. We drank them around 04:00 after our shift and I remember liking it very much, although I can't really tell you what I tasted at the time.I still love their beers and they've grown into one of the hallmark craft breweries in the Netherlands.”

Rob Steuart: “Biggest lightbulb was a Cantillion Geuze I had in 2006. I had met a Belgian colleague at a conference the year before and he came over to do work in our lab. He had talked about beer at the conference and he thought he'd bring over a beer from this little brewery that he and his mates would go to. We drank it out of the bottle slightly warm in his office he shared with my PhD supervisor, and it was awesome. At the time, I'd been drinking a lot more wine as it was hard to get anything with much variation. I'd been through the standard European beers you could get in Australia at the time and there was very little else around. Cantillon had everything I had been liking about heavily oaked wines I'd been searching out with the beer flavors I much preferred. From that point on it was all about finding any store in my area that stoked anything against the norm, and buying and trying.”

Lana Svitakova: “One of the most memorable beers was a glass of unfiltered beer straight from tank some 20km from Budapest I've drank some 5 years ago. It was very hot, early Autumn day, we've rented some bicycles and had the most beautiful ride along the Danube River, and we've found some spot on the map which read ‘sörfőzde,’ which is ‘brewery’ in Hungarian. We decide to have a detour, but eventually got lost between fields and had to carry our bikes, through the meadow uphill. In the end, breathless and sweaty, we got to the small house which was basically a very small production brewery without taproom. The owners didn't speak English and you don't speak Hungarian if you are not Hungarian, but they poured us beer nonetheless (one bottled and another straight from the tank, so you can call it Kellerbier easily) and let us enjoy it on a sunny porch with a tranquil view. That was an amazing experience and I still have a picture of that beer.”

Tyler W. Plourd: “I went on a typical American West Coast odyssey last summer where I rented a camper van, started in Vegas, and drove all around the coast. I was in San Francisco and I met this guy who needed to go back to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, but was tight on cash for a flight, and I decided to offer him a ride because I've never seen any movies where this scenario has gone bad. I had just come off a heavy night of drinking and my plan was to drive up to Russian River and grab some bottles of Pliny to mail home. He thought I was crazy. [We drove] to our campsite from Santa Rosa down US-1 in the dead of night, going through every hangover symptom possible, only to find out the campsite was closed due to mudslides, so we had to find another site. Drama. Panic. Eventually, I found a shady place (again, living an awful horror film trope) and we popped two bottles underneath some Redwood trees and that glass of Pliny the Elder is still the best damn beer I've ever had.”

Josh Mills: “1664 Kronenbourg. It was summer of 2011, and in the previous month, the ship had only docked in Batumi, Georgia, where they only toast their enemies with beer. We ran the ditch and started our real deployment at Djibouti. The quay wall was covered in graffiti from the hundreds of ships that pulled in before us, and the refuse of thousands of camels that loaded from the same berth. It would be another two months until the next port, so for four days we drank 1664s and sweated them back out into the 100-degree air. It was the last beer I had when I still thought I was young and tough. By my next drink 60 days later (Tusker, and a couple of rounds of Laphroaig, for what it’s worth), life had changed considerably.”

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