My wife and I recently got very lucky with regards to a birthday party to which our four-year-old had been invited. And by “got very lucky” I mean that we were able to get out of both having to buy a present for this kid we don’t know and going to the damn thing altogether.
Face it. When you have kids, you’re always losing your weekends to birthday parties. We have had months that have involved birthdays every weekend, and spending more on gifts than on our monthly TV/Internet/phone bill. Yes, it’s great for kids to do things with their friends, but when that always involves vacuuming out a good chunk of your wallet that you’d rather devote to good beer, you’re lying if you say you don’t sometimes do a little victory dance when you find a reason to not take your kid to another germ-filled, bouncy house-based soiree.
For us, getting out of the kid’s party was legit: We were invited to my wife’s great-aunt’s 95th birthday party on the same day. We live in Oakland. The party was in a suburb of Sacramento called Elk Grove, which is an almost two-hour drive away. So, doing the math: about four hours of driving + nearly five hours of devouring enough Chinese food to relieve one of Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward-fueled famines = a very long day for the Crum Clan. By the time we got back home at around 8 p.m., I was ready for one of those beers in my garage beer fridge.
And damn, did that bottle of Hodgson’s Bitter End IPA taste good. The fact that I had it in a frosty glass mug, complete with my college’s logo on it, provided that “extra 10%” boost that Esquire magazine says you should always try for in any endeavor. It had been the end of a long day, and the End-Of-A-Long-Day Beer is always a Good Thing.
But, as good as it is, it doesn’t quite reach the top spot among the Best Types Of Beers you can drink. This list isn’t based on the style of beer; we’re not battling India Pale Ales against Coors Light [Although any IPA would wipe the floor with the Silver Bullet]. These are the best beers based on where and why you are having them. In other words, it’s all about location, location, location.
1. Airport Bar Beer
A few months back I had to take an early morning flight from San Francisco to New York. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But I was looking forward to swinging by the airport bar and being able to have a beer at 7 a.m. The beauty of the airport bar is that it’s one of the last refuges where it’s perfectly OK to throw one back in public, even and especially if it’s a beer at breakfast time. You can have that 7 a.m. beer without fear of being judged as hopeless early drunk. Day or night, the Airport Beer points to some kind of adventure ahead.
2. Ballpark Beer [Day Game]
Let’s get it out of the way early: Beer at the ballpark costs WAY more than it should. You won’t get an argument from me about how $11 for a 24-ounce beer is a crime. That said, few investments are as worthy as those you make in the practice of drinking a cold beer in the sun during the afternoon at a ballgame. Your seat is all yours, and all you have to do is pour cold beer down your gullet and watch a master of the mound like Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners do his thing. The
3. Shower Beer
We live in Oakland, but about 3-to-5 hours away [depending upon stops for our kids] we have a rambling, shambling getaway mobile home in Mariposa, near Yosemite National Park. This place is VERY country. It sits on four-plus acres and our neighbors with the used-car-lot amount of broken down beaters may or may not moonlight by running a meth lab. And since we only get up there about once a month, when we do, we are usually met with grass that has grown high enough to hide the Viet Cong right before they launched the Tet Offensive back in 1968.
Thus, when we get there, I often spend a good amount of my “relaxation” time either behind the wheel of our riding mower or swinging our weed eater back and forth until I am covered in grass shrapnel. After my most-recent, eight-hour-long yard battle, I was sneezing my face off and ready for a shower. And in a fit of inspiration that I have to believe was related to a mild heat stroke, I decided that I couldn’t wait until after my shower for a beer. And with water running down my face, that Kona Longboard Lager tasted as clean as I felt. It was like something out of a 1970s commercial.
4. End Of Long Roadtrip Beer
Victory over the road demands one of these.
5. Barbecuing Beer [Solo Edition]
Weatherwise, the Bay Area is kind of like Groundhog Day: It’s pretty much the same all year round. Because of this, I am able to throw some ribeyes on my grill at any time of the year. And since you can’t leave a steak alone over some hot coals, you have a free pass to remain outside while your kids destroy the living room. The only company you need is in a frosty mug.
6. Kids Birthday Party Beer
For the life of me, I can’t understand why more parents don’t put a cooler full of beer out for the adults at their kids’ birthday parties. I give massive kudos to the parent who is gracious enough to swing by Costco and pick up a case or two of something for all the dads and moms who have surrendered their weekend afternoons for the cause of acknowledging Little Billy’s Special Day. Pass the cake and pass me the bottle opener.
7. Workweek Lunchtime Beer
Best served cold, and in a booth about halfway back in the restaurant. Chase it with a bacon cheeseburger.
8. Ballpark Beer [Night Game]
See No. 2 above and move the starting time forward about 6 hours.
9. Vending Machine Beer [Japan Only]
I have to say “Japan Only” here because I can’t confirm the existence of Man’s Greatest Invention in any other country but Japan. I know of these because I lived in Japan for three years and I can attest to many times being in awe of the Glowing Wonder of the beer vending machine and how it saved many a party full of foreign drunks.
10. Watching The Seattle Seahawks Win The Super Bowl Beer [2014 Only, So Far]
Should have been a repeat this year.
11. International Beer
This is simply any beer you drink when you’re out and about in a foreign country. Sorry, but Mexico and Canada don’t count. You must leave North America. I have drunk beers in 14 foreign countries and every one, from the Dreher in Hungary to the Victoria Bitter in Australia was like a little thumbing of the nose at America’s uber-puritanical view of having a cold one in the middle of a weekday afternoon.
12. Swim-Up Pool Bar Beer
13. College Party Keg Beer
Back between 1986 and 1991, this kind of beer would have been No. 1 on this list. Now, the thought of fighting through several hundred dudes, and sorority girls, at one of my college fraternity parties just to get a plastic cup filled with Bud Light that may or may not be pure foam makes me almost want to light myself on fire. Still, few things beat pouring one for yourself from a cold keg. And now that I think about those sorority girls…
14. Being Run Over By A Truck
15. Any Bud-Light-A-Rita
We Americans make these drinking abominations. And because of this, the terrorists may just have a point in hating us so much.