Last week there was a discussion on our Facebook page about the “20 Most Influential Beers”, as curated by the folks at First We Feast. I’ve since posted a reaction that takes a decidedly more purist route in determining what beer we ought to covet. While I usually try to avoid “best of” lists, this one actually got me thinking about how my experience with beer has evolved over the years. In no particular order, I present my “Most Influential Beers” list. Prepare to be disappointed.
1. Mill St. Tank House Ale
A solid offering to this day, Mill St. Tankhouse Ale was my go-to for a number of years. Conveniently enough it was served by the pitcher at places like Red Room in Toronto (for a mere $14 might I add). This was a regularly produced pale ale before pale ales were cool. They didn’t even brand it as a pale ale – what the hell is a Tank House anyway? – which was probably a good idea at the time. Dark, malty with a nice spicy nose, this was the beer that acclimatized my palate to more robust and expressive IPAs.
2. Dortmunder Actien Brauerei, A.K.A DAB Lager
This was one of the first beers I had that I thought was genuinely different. It really isn’t that great, in my opinion, but it was something that was more expensive at the time and wasn’t being consumed by my barely-legal friends. It was a point of differentiation for me on a social level (I was 19, give me a break). It was also a signal to me that I didn’t need to drink Canadian or Coors light. Yes, this rather DrAB lager was critical in pushing me down the path of craft.
3. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
The complete and honest story of my love affair with DFH 60 Minute begins something like this: why the hell is this so bitter, and why the hell is it $14.99 for a six pack!? This was, of course, barely the beginning of my love affair with beer. Understandably it came as a shock to my palate. I was used to drinking number 2 on this list and had no idea that bitterness could form such a complex, essential and addictive element to beer. This was the first time I genuinely detected citrus! Mind Blown! Thus began an uninterrupted obsession with IPA’s for a solid 3 years.
4. Amsterdam Blonde
This is by no means Amsterdam’s most sought after brand, but it’s one that I drank absolute crap loads of during university. Yes, it was usually re-branded as the house beer of what ever dive I was drinking in, but my god did it ever hit the spot. It was a total gateway product for me and for that reason I will always have respect for it.
5. Old Milwaukee
This is worst beer ever. How do I know that? Because I nicked it from my parents liquor cabinet when I was 13, took one sip and poured the thing down the drain. Actually I was in a field with with my brother and a few friends. The decision was unanimous: a) this is horrible, and b) how do adults drink this stuff? Judging by online reviews for the beer, I had already developed a highly accurate palate at a very young age. This beer is garbage! Total garbage! But guess what? It was my FIRST beer ever…and my last Old Milwaukee.
So there you have it, a highly personal list of my top 5 influential beers for reasons understandable only to me.
Cheers, and Drink Good Beer!