Beer and Travel: Cheers to the Memories

BEER

BEERIsn’t it uncanny that a just a little taste of something can seem to pull you back in time? Whether it’s a song that comes on the radio, a bit of chocolate or ice cream, or sip from a pint glass, memories can be awakened from the depths of the mind! Through my travels, I have come across three beers in particular that somewhat act as a time machine and take me back to those lovely places where I once consumed them.

My favorite beer

Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen is my favorite beer of all time. When someone asks me what it tastes like, I reply, “It tastes like a hug from a loved one you haven’t seen in ages.” After graduating high school, my twin and I went on a two week adventure to Germany where we were hosted by two of our German friends we had made at our public school our junior year. This was the first time we have been on a plane and our first out-of-country experience! We were nervous and excited, as we thought of this trip as a return to the motherland (our father’s side of the family is German).  When we arrived to the Stuttgart airport, we were greeted with a huge, hand-made sign our dear friend crafted and bear hugs from the whole family!  From then on we were shown Bavarian culture from a true Bavarian!  Besides a couple of phrases we had learned on the plane ride over, my twin and I did not know a lick of German. Thankfully, our friend translated for us. I noticed that every village seemed to have its own beer, so my twin and I decided to try the towns’ heirlooms. With thoughtful consideration, our German friend advised us to try the Hefeweizen. As a first-time beer drinker, this brew was quite pleasant. So, when I drink the beer from the “world’s oldest brewery,” I think of the Bavarian hospitality, warmth, and friendship my twin and I experienced.

Absent Friends

belhavenTaking a leap from Germany to Scotland, I recall another beer that evokes fond memories- Belhaven Scottish Ale.  As I take a sip, I close my eyes and smile as I’m transported to Finnegan’s Wake in Edinburgh, watching my friends’ and my favorite collection of sweet old Scottish men that make up the band Absent Friends. This small Irish pub – in the midst of a row of clubs – provided a cozy alternative to losing one’s hearing to a thumping bass and chaos.  My friend and I happened upon Absent Friends one evening as we were feeling homesick, and they played songs we would listen to with our fathers back home in the States! They ended up performing at Finnegan’s Wake rather frequently, and a tune that we always looked forward to was their cover of “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Strait.  Whether this pub was packed on the weekend or tranquil on a weekday, chatting with my group of friends over a pint of Belhaven Scottish Ale at Finnegan’s Wake was always a happy place for me.

Wading through water 

abbibeerThe beer that provides the most colorful of memories for me is Quilmes, which is basically Argentina’s Budweiser.  Although the taste is a familiar light lager, the memories that this beer conjures up make me laugh and shake my head.  I immediately think of the Quilmes Rock Festival, where everything that could possibly go wrong occurred! It was truly the best and worst event abroad. It was Semana Santa, and I was visiting a high school friend that had moved back to her birthplace of Buenos Aires. We were excited to see our favorite bands play in one of the biggest open arena stadiums in Argentina! TV on the Radio, Arctic Monkeys, and the Foo Fighters were on the lineup as well as Argentine favorites like Charly Garcia and Las Pelotas.

When we arrived at the stadium, we passed a huge inflated can of Quilmes beer and found our seats in the ‘nose-bleed’ section.  The sky was dark gray as the first band started up, and by the time the Arctic Monkeys performed, it had started to rain. As they performed “Crying Lightning,” the sky was doing just the same! The rain got heavier and heavier, and the band abruptly stopped as the crowd dispersed and headed for shelter.  This would be one of the worst thunderstorms to happen to Buenos Aires in years, causing fallen trees, power outages for days, flooding, and damage to homes.

While waiting in soaked clothes for the storm to pass, I thought, “Geez, it’s definitely time for a beer.” Being at a music festival sponsored by Argentina’s beloved beer, I waited in line for thirty minutes only to find out that the stadium did not serve beer at all! It was like showing up to Budweiser’s “Up for Whatever, USA” and not having any brews to drink.  I was mislead by the inflatable can and logos shown all over the stadium. WHY?!  Is this a cruel joke?! Looking back, I imagine it was because many fans of futbol are so passionate about the sport that it is best not to fuel them any more to avoid rioting and fights—that, and those stadium steps sure are steep!

Eventually the rain stopped, and we heard the Foo Fighters take the stage and start playing. Hoards of drenched people rushed back to their spots, and the festival was back in full swing. Towards the end of the Foo Fighter’s show, I looked over at my friend, and she was completely miserable. The poor girl was numb from the cold and wanted to go home. Even though I hadn’t heard my favorite song of theirs yet, we left for the hostel. Sure enough, as soon as we walked out of that stadium, Dave Grohl starting singing “Everlong.” I felt agony, as I had waited months to see him sing that song live, but I needed to get my friend back.  We waded for blocks with other festival-goers in knee-deep water mixed with sewage in order to return to the hostel. It was so bad, we just HAD to laugh. All of the other Argentines made it into a joke and laughed with us in spite of the situation.  From finally seeing two of our favorite bands to wading in questionable water, it truly was the best and worst concert experience.

Cheers

Nostalgia can be wrapped in many forms, whether it is a song, a dish, or a drink. It can take you back to a single moment, event, or time period in your life, for better or worse! Through certain beers, I am reminded of the various friends and experiences that were made along the way. Cheers to the past, cheers to the present, and cheers to the future that lay ahead!

What beer or other beverage reminds you of your travels abroad?  Comment below!  We’d love to hear your nostalgic beer story(ies)!

abbieidtAbout the Author:  Abbi Eidt loves travel, education and beer. You can learn more about her here.