Memories in a Glass

Roll out the barrels...

One thing I love about beer is its ability to trigger memories. This turns out to be an important component of tasting, where familiar flavors may come flooding back mid-whiff or mid-sip.

For example, Deschutes Black Butte Porter is a favorite beer of mine. I don't drink it as much as I used to because there are so many others to try, but when I return to it I'm always rewarded. It has that rich, chocolaty taste and killer mouthfeel I adore, but it also takes me on a quick journey to Oregon.

As I drink, I'm reminded of trips to Portland. I can picture the Deschutes taproom, and the Portland State Farmer's Market, remember the little boutique shops and Powell's City of Books, and all the other great breweries in town (including the otherworldly Cascade Brewing pictured above). Memories float in my mind like driftwood along the Willamette River, which aside from being an incredibly forced metaphor is pretty much the way it works for me.

With each sip I think of places my wife and I have visited, experiences we've shared. Blue Star Donuts, Nong's Khao Man Gai, a variety of other eateries (Portland is basically food heaven). Drives out to the coast (Rogue Brewery in Newport, Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City) or inland (Full Sail and Double Mountain Breweries in Hood River, Deschutes headquarters in Bend). It goes on and on, limited only by the time it takes to finish my beer.

And since I'm always drinking with others, the stories never end. I might mention a trip to the Portland Art Museum, and someone else has been there as well. Or maybe they just walked past it on their way to the coolest thing ever. Or maybe they've never been to Portland but always wanted to go. Or maybe they visited another art museum in a different city that was awesome. Or maybe...

Eventually our glasses are empty and someone grabs another bottle out of the fridge. It's Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin, and suddenly we're transported to Paso Robles. And we remember driving along the California coast, or riding on the train. And there's that time we did that thing with those people and then that other thing happened. Oh man, it was wild. You should have been there.

After a while things get fuzzy, which is agreeable as long as they don't get too fuzzy, and we call it a night. And if we did it right we end up with a feeling of well-being, of connectedness with others who may have experienced the same things we have (but in slightly different ways) or introduced us to new things that we now find ourselves yearning to experience. Either way, we are left with something to look forward to the next time we crack open a bottle or three with friends. Where will our memories take us then?

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