Friday, July 06, 2007

The Session #5 - Atmosphere

For the past 5 months, beer bloggers around the globe have gotten together on the first Friday of the month to post about a specific beer style or theme. This month’s theme, chosen by the guys at Hop Talk, is atmosphere. Specifically:

Beer is about more than flavor, IBUs, and the debate over what is a craft beer and what isn’t. It’s about Life. It’s the proverbial icing on the cake.

So, we want to know about the “Atmosphere” in which you enjoy beer.
Where is your favorite place to have a beer? When? With whom? Most importantly:


Because while life isn’t all about beer, beer is all about life”

Atmosphere can mean many things to many different people. It can be a quiet Sunday in your backyard, a lounge chair on a sunlit beach or a cabin overlooking the mountains. It can be any place that evokes a sense of calm and relaxation, where everything is right in the world.

Perhaps my favorite place I have ever had a beer is the back ‘porch’ of the Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon. Sure, their beer is fantastic. The India Pelican Ale is a delight, with a lovely citrus hop finish that competes with many of the best IPA’s in the country. But the beer is the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The view from the back of the brewpub is extraordinary. It sits on the Oregon coast, in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Rock outcroppings jut out of the cold Pacific Ocean, and the sandy beach awaits you. A short walk away you can scale a 60 foot sand dune, or you can explore tidal pools teeming with starfish, anemones and other sea creatures. I remember saying to my wife that I did not want to leave. Ever.

Unfortunately, I live some 2500 miles away from that beer paradise, so I have to get my atmosphere closer to home. In my opinion, there is no better place in Asheville to have a beer than in front of Jack of the Wood. Granted, the benches in front are not for everyone. Since the bar is non-smoking, you will definitely encounter your share of smokers which could potentially ruin your ideal atmosphere. But I think the pros outweigh the cons. You have a front row seat to the city, and on a nice leisurely afternoon you can watch the world, or more specifically, Asheville go by. By far the greatest benefit of sitting outside is that it practically forces you to interact with the people around you. Unlike sitting at a table or even at the bar, the benches, with their open seating arrangement, invite conversations with strangers. I have met all kinds of great people there. One night, an older couple from Ireland was in town for their son’s wedding, and we spent a couple of hours talking international politics, culture, food, and of course, beer. Another night my wife and I met a couple on their seventh wedding anniversary, and we got to live vicariously through their celebratory evening. While I certainly appreciate nights with close friends and family, there is something totally unique about meeting a friendly person for the first time that is from across the street or across the pond. It reminds you that human beings are a pretty good lot for the most part.

So I hope all of you have a special place to enjoy a pint of beer and fellowship, and take a moment to think about how special those times are.

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