Category Archives: Beer Journal

Beer Journal: Local watering holes

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. More than wine, when I travel, I find beer. Not haute beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant. And these stories are not the stories of the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about the times when I had a beer, and the people I was with.

These are our local watering holes.

The Friendly Spot - King William

The Friendly Spot – King William

Here is Lewis at the The Friendly Spot, which has apparently been around longer than I thought. It can be hard to find a seat, but when you do, it’s about as simple a place as ever did grace the hip side of town. And it is oh so hip.That’s why my bike helmet it here. Because we’re trying to be hip like the Southtowners.

We often meet our Southtown friends there.

I was particularly thrilled to see it mentioned in the biography of Ann Richards.

The Granary - Pearl

The Granary – Pearl

The brewmaster at The Granary went to high school with my sister, and the beer is worth a mention. The Root Beer is worth some sort of award.This flight of beers was shared with a group of Australian travel professionals visiting for a conference. More proof that Australians know how to have a good time.

The Granary is not a bar. It’s a restaurant, serving an elevated twist on Texas smoked meets and their accouterments. I, for one, am not a die-hard purist about Texas beer and bbq. People rail about the inherent evils of “high end” bbq and beer flights, but this is good food and good beer. What could be more purist than that?

The Esquire Tavern - Downtown/Riverwalk

The Esquire Tavern – Downtown/Riverwalk

There’s not any beer in the is picture, but Esquire Tavern is simultaneously 1) home to the longest bar in Texas, and 2) the only place downtowners go on the Riverwalk. History and relevance. Some other organizations I know of should take note. The food is all heavy duty, and the drinks are delicious. I’ve had more than one beer here.

On the night this picture was taken, I was with Liz James. We had just left a jazz concert and the Spurs were in the final round of the NBA championship. Liz is committing the crime of getting us to be very attached to her before she leaves us (probably for Boulder, like everyone else). But we’ll forgive her and have a few more beers before she’s gone.

The Luxury - River North

The Luxury – River North

We can reach The Luxury on our bikes, without peddling. We can leave our home, lift our feet, and roll the 7 blocks to this table right here.

You know  the beer in the picture is not actually mine because it’s opaque.

All seating is outside, and I love it. Large plastic animal toys substitute for numbers. In this picture, we are with our friends, the Sedgwicks who pointed out that Lewis’s pants match the saurolophus and the table. It’s cool to have people around who notice that sort of thing.

Blue Box - The Pearl

Blue Box – The Pearl

Blue Box has become a pretty common happy hour spot for me. It’s incredibly hard to find the first time, as there’s no sign out front, and it’s under the Pearl parking garage. But that doesn’t seem to stop it from filling up. People have a thing for places where you have to know. They serve fun cocktails and beer. These pictured were both recommendations of their incredibly knowledgeable head bar tender (who may be the owner, I’m not sure.)

I am here drinking with Haley, my primary happy hour companion for the last three-or-so years. Haley is that person who understands that some days happy hour needs to start at 2pm on a Tuesday, as well as the many reasons that someone might drink most of the bottle of wine in the course of a weeknight. Because, in the words of Haley, “I’m a grown-ass woman.”

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , ,

Beer Journal: Corona

 

This entry in the beer journal is not about travel. It’s about home.

This is a Corona. It is my beer of choice.June 9 iPhone 081

And sitting behind that Corona is Lewis, my company of choice. He’s having a Shiner Black.

When I am home, I drink light, effervescent, (preferably Mexican) beer. Lewis is pretty loyal to “whatever you have that’s really dark.” He likes words like “stout.” I like words like “crisp.” And I like my Mexican lagers dressed. That means with salt and lime (it was alarming to me that this is not common knowledge everywhere in the world, as it took me 10 minutes to explain it to a waiter in Yosemite National Park).

Our different taste in beer is a pretty good metaphor for the rest of our differences. He’s mysterious, minor-key, and and meticulous. I’m…not any of that.

Over years of marriage, from what I’ve heard, you start to know things about each other. Important stuff like, what cacao percentage to choose (70% for Bekah, 80% for Lewis). Which color of clothing will be a hard sell (purple, for Lewis). Which herbs to avoid (cilantro, for Bekah).

But there’s something really really special about the first time someone successfully pegs your drink order. You go out, it’s really crowded, and you finally manage to find a place to perch. Before you can even peruse the list, your partner senses the urgency of having drinks-in-hand, disappears to the bar, and comes back holding exactly what you would have ordered.

Lewis does that for me, and he also knows those deeper differences. He can order my drink, squeeze my hand at the right time, and know that my storms will pass. He knows me.

Tagged , ,

Beer Journal: Aguila

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. More than wine, when I travel, I find beer. Not haute beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant. And these stories are not the stories of the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about the times when I had a beer, and the people I was with.

This is Aguila, a Colombian Beer.

Colombia FAM Part II 076

I drank…a lot of it. With Benja, who was never really a stranger, but is now an old friend. Also some lovely Australians.

Somehow, Australians always know where to find beer. We could be in the middle of nowhere, and one of them would show up with armfuls of beer, passing it around, for the good of all.

Benja and the Australians gave me a three day crash course in not “overthinking.”

On our last day we hiked through Tayrona National Park, one of the more fascinatingly beautiful places on earth. We sweated out the remnants of the night before, and then soaked in the sea on a 7 km hike in 95 degree weather at around 100% humidity. It was like some kind of purification ritual.

It’s weird how many times I’ve called up that day. When vines start creeping around my ankles asking, “What will they think?” or “Do they like you?” or “Won’t they expect you to…?”

Sometimes you have to look disapproval/pressure/judgement in the eye… and have a beer.

Colombia FAM Part II 115

Tagged , , , ,

Beer Journal: Cusqueña

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. When I travel, I drink beer. Not haute beer. Not craft beer. Not hip beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant, or snatch at a corner store after a long day of activity. And these stories are not about the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about times I had a beer, and the people who shared them.

This is Cusqueña. A Peruvian beer.

FAM trip 310

This beer, right here, this exact bottle, stands for all the beers (and tequila shots) that have given me back a little bit of agency. Yes, I realize that excessive drinking can lead to a loss of agency. But for me, it’s the first sip that tells me, “you know who you are.” The first sip tastes like slamming the door…letting your hair down… and turning on Tom Petty as loud as you can and jumping on the furniture.

When reclaiming one’s agency/identity, drinking alone is drinking in good company. I drank this alone, while Lewis napped. The server wore a white jacket and a bowtie.

I was in the courtyard of our hotel in Cusco, after 14 site inspections of luxury hotels. Being waited on hand and foot. I had been fussed over, portered, and served beyond my capacity. So I ordered a beer. Sometimes you need to remember what kind of girl you are.

Tagged , , , ,

Beer Journal: Kross

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. More than wine, when I travel, I find beer. Not haute beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant. And these stories are not the stories of the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about the times when I had a beer, and the people I was with.

This is Kross. It is a Chilean beer.

Kross

This might be the only beer in my beer journal that is something you should actually find in a beer journal. It’s won awards. It’s microbrewed.I had it in Chile with Lewis and a guide names Marcelo, who would introduce us to the world of expert guides and when to use them.

This would come in handy later.

I had gone to get away from  the pervasive unpleasantness that had become my job, back in 2012. When I came back from Chile, bad news was waiting, and it just kept coming for two months. Job gone. Church gone (for me). And a series of other disappointments.

Then I started working for Ker and Downey. I used the research I’d done for our trip to Chile in my application, which included creating an itinerary suited to the company’s clientele. It just so happened that a South America Specialist was something they needed. Now, one year and three trips later, the whole continent continues to dazzle me.

But Chile always comes up special. It’s unique and diverse and dramatic. When I left California, back in 2004, I told friends that I didn’t think I was done there quite yet. Same goes for Chile, where I got a sneak peak at what lay beyond the rapids of April and May 2012, though I still don’t think I have the full story.

There’s something special in that country. Maybe I just have a thing for westernmost places.

Chile with Lewis

Tagged , , ,

Beer Journal: Red Stripe

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. More than wine, when I travel, I find beer. Not haute beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant. And these stories are not the stories of the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about the times when I had a beer, and the people I was with.

This is Red Stripe. It’s a Jamaican beer.

Red Stripe

Red Stripe is my favorite bottle of all beers. And it’s a lager, so I can drink quite a few of them before I feel like I’ve swallowed a loaf of bread (by contrast, I can only drink half of a Guinness before that happens…)

This particular Red Stripe was imbibed in the back seat of a van, upon arrival in Jamaica, my first really big trip with the Walkers.  Both sets of grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles. The works. The fun had begun.

I nannied for the Walkers for 1.5 years. After that I lived with them for another year. I went with them on numerous trips.  California, Jamaica, Chicago, Anguilla, Mexico, and a cruise; but living in the house was by far the best adventure.

There are too many stories to recount, but there was always always some sort of beverage served. And the fact that the Walkers let me paddle off in a kayak with their one-year-old on my lap, or snorkel with their five-year-old, and met me upon return with a cold beer in hand tells you something about just how great of a time we had.

If you look closely, you see little feet hanging off on either side of me.

If you look closely, you see little feet hanging off on either side of me.

Mexico with Celeste

I would share the ups and downs of life in more ways than I ever could have imagined when drinking this Red Stripe in 2008. We would live “in community” in that idealistic way that rarely works in real life, but I think it worked for us.  It was the Walkers who taught me that family can be something you choose.

Tagged , , , , ,

Beer Journal: Brewery Tours

I love brewery tours. Especially in Europe.

I’ve done quite a few, but two really stand out.

First, the Heineken Brewery in Amsterdam. It’s slick, it’s corporate. But it’s got lots of fun things. Or maybe it doesn’t…I don’t really remember.

Why don’t I remember? Because I went to the Heineken Brewery with Lee, on our whirlwind tour of Europe during Holy Week while I was in grad school and Lee was working for The Alley in Houston. Amersterdam was our first stop, and we were there for 36 hours. At no time in that 36 hours was I fully aware of what I was doing. We are so so so tired in this picture.

Heinekin

We’d left my London flat at 3am. By 10am we were at the Heineken Brewery, hyped up on caffeine. Thanks to the samples given at the Heineken tour, by noon we were asleep on a bench on the top floor of the Van Gough museum. At some point there was more caffeine, and this happened:

Amsterdam

After that is was around 4 o’clock, maybe a little after…

Somewhere along the line, this happened:

Girl in shoe

The other brewery tour I remember fondly was the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen. I went with my cousins, Matthew, Tommy, and Alex. We were on another backpack blitz of Europe, on the way to Tommy’s law school summer course in Innsbruck. Matthew and I had done a Eurail trip together before, and I think we can both agree that it was a sign of our deep familial bond that we tried it again.

Copenhagen was our second stop after visiting the family in Stockholm/Boxholm. I personally find Copenhagen a little odd, but this was a classic brewery tour. I don’t remember how, but somehow Alex and I got separated from the boys and found ourselves in the bar at the end of the tour (a standard feature). Carlsberg is more generous than most with their samples. We got two full size beers of our choice. To consume in the 30 minutes we were allowed to stay in the bar.

Carlburg

Carlsberg makes Elephant Beer. Which at the time had an ABV of 12%.

I woke up on a bench just outside the brewery. I’m not certain, but I think Alex did too.

I guess my criteria for a good brewery tour is the quality of the nap you get at the end.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Beer Journal: Nile Special

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. When I travel, I drink beer. Not haute beer. Not craft beer. Not hip beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant, or snatch at a corner store after a long day of activity. And these stories are not about the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about times I had a beer, and the people who shared them.

This is Nile Special. It’s Ugandan.

Nile Beer

The first time I had a Nile was at a restaurant called Ethiopian Village in the Kabalagala neighborhood of Kampala. It was 2006. I was with my dear friend Mauryne, and we were just hanging out, letting the evening hang out with us. I had spent the last two weeks in a frenzy learning about development, microinvestment, public health, environmental efforts. We had seen the sights: the B’hai Temple, the markets, the lake. We rafted the Nile (the actual river…not an idiom for drinking too much).

But this was the best part, just hanging out with Mauryne in the neighborhood. That’s when I felt most keen on Uganda. We repeated the experience in 2007, when I came to do research for my Master’s thesis. I find beer when I’m looking to get out of my head. Even if I only have one, it’s the act of “having a beer” that does it. That says “just be here.”

In 2008, I brought another important friend to drink Nile beer with me at Ethiopian Village, Liz Ward. Here we are having yet another Nile at the Ndere Center, a cultural show where we made Mauryne be a tourist with us:

Liz and Mo

In 2010 the Ethiopian Village was the site of one of two deadly terrorist attacks on Kampala during the World Cup. Lewis had just come home from the city a week before. Mauryne had just gone home from the restaurant when the bomb went off. God was good to the ones I love. And I remembered what kind of world we live in…it’s so easy to forget that anything could go wrong when the sun is setting over the hills of Kampala, and you’re eating injera and drinking a Nile.

Tagged , , ,