What’s your favorite beer?

The other day I was asked a puzzling question, “what’s your favorite beer?” Being a “beer guy” who has tried hundreds if not thousands of beers, this should be an easy answer. But it wasn’t and I sounded like a d-bag with my response. I want to figure out with you the best way to answer this question so you don’t sound like one too.

On Monday a co-worker who I’m pretty friendly with stayed over at my place since he had to be at an event near my house early Tuesday morning. I hope that gives you an idea of what working at a startup is like. Anyway, my wife, him and I went out to our favorite local sushi spot Passion Fin. Like the majority of sushi places, they have a full bar and a small beer menu with a bunch of AB-owned imports. Except Passion Fin also serves cans of locally-made Lost Rhino Face Plant, their flagship beer. I recommended that beer for my co-worker since he’s not from the area already knowing he likes IPAs from previous conversations. I believe it was a good recommendation since he ended up ordering another. That’s when he hits me with the question, “so what’s your favorite beer?” After a few ahs and ums I finally stutter out, “well it depends on the context.” My wife shook her head in disapproval. Yep, I’m a d-bag. But that’s what I believe!

A favorite beer is all about context. Where am I? What time of day is it? What season is it? What have I been doing that day? What will I be doing that night? Is there food involved? How much will I be drinking? How much does sentimental value play into my decision?

This question can be interpreted a couple ways. One way, and the way I phrase it on Conversations with Beer Bloggers, is if you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?

If you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?

This answers many of the above contextual elements. While I’ve had better beers, even in the same style, Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout is my answer. It’s a beer that I never get sick of. It has a low enough ABV I can drink many if there’s an all-day event and it’s hearty enough that I can drink just one for dessert. I also have a deep sentimental attachment to it.

Another way to interpret this question is what is the best beer you’ve ever tasted?

What is the best beer you’ve ever tasted?

This eliminates sentimental value and all contextual elements. This has happened in the past and there’s a definite answer. Well, kind of. It’s really difficult to choose just one of these also. Why? Well taste is greatly based around the overall experience. For me, Pliny the Elder might be the best beer I’ve ever tasted but only because of the circumstances. Or is it World Class Stout? Or BCBS?

Lastly, choosing a favorite beer begs this as well: what beer has the most meaning to you?

What beer has the most meaning to you?

Beers = memories and memories = happiness (the good memories at least). The first beer I drank after tying the knot was Port City Optimal Wit. Brooklyn Pennant Ale was one of my first craft beers and I personally got to thank Garrett Oliver for making it.


Me standing with Garrett Oliver

Me and Garrett Oliver at SAVOR. No big deal.

There have been too many beers with too many memories attached to them to name them all. When asking someone to choose a favorite beer you’re getting his or her memories that go along with it too. What’s your favorite memory? Hard to pick just one, right?

Let’s head back to the sushi restaurant. In hindsight I should have answered with, “If I’m only having one beer for the rest of my life, it’d be Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout but it’s not the best beer I’ve ever tasted. There are a few really, really good ones I’ve had but Pliny the Elder has the most significance to me behind it. You know, there are also a bunch of beers that I love just because of my history with them like Port City Optimal Wit or Brooklyn Pennant Ale. What about you?” Maybe that’s not completely d-bag free but that’s much better that what I actually said.

So let me ask you. What’s your favorite beer? Tell me below! Can you pick just one? How’d you do it? If you can’t pick one, why not?

Thanks as always for reading. Here’s to drinking many good beers this weekend. Maybe you can find a new favorite! Cheers!!

30 thoughts on “What’s your favorite beer?

  1. I generally reply with “It depends on the situation but with all things considered it’d be Victory Golden Monkey.”

    Golden Monkey is easy drinking with a decent enough ABV that you can drink 2 or 3 without getting wasted and 4 or 5 will have you tore up. It’s widely available along the east coast and is in most grocery stores in my area. Also it clocks in at just $10 for a 6-pack so it’s not overly expensive like some craft beers are creeping up to be. It also has a magical memory attached of being the second real craft beer I ever had.

    That said I haven’t had it in months because I know it so well I’d rather experiment with new beers.

    • I hear you! I hardly ever drink Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout anymore simply because I want to try something different. Not because I’m sick of it but because I know I can always have it.

      This weekend I’ll have one.

      • Saw a guy order a Golden Monkey last night. Seemed fitting that I’d keep my word and get a Duck-Rabbit. Glad I did. I think I need a whole other post on returning to your favorite beers instead of ignoring them for new beers.

  2. I, too, have a tough time answering questions such as “What’s your favorite beer?” or “Who is your favorite brewery”?

    One of the things that makes this difficult for me is that I started to get into “craft” beer at a time when brand loyalty was thrown out the window for chasing unique beers. Sure, I knew some breweries had superior products compared to other breweries, but were any of these really my favorite? It was something I never thought about which makes answering the dreaded “favorite beer/brewery” question even harder.

    Even after all these years, I still have trouble answering it!! Let’s call it a tie between the Pennsylvania Trio of Weyerbacher, Victory and Troegs. I make it a point to try everything new by them, and also keep going back to their core offerings and seasonals.


  3. There just…is no way I can safely answer this question. My cliche answer is “the beer im drinking now,” but digging deeper into that,it’s just wrong. What if someone asks me while I’m drinking something I don’t really like??

    I suppose if I am really forced to ask…it would be Flying Dog “Raging Bitch.” but even that choice is mired in more happy memories than perhaps how I actually feel about the quality of the beer.

  4. I normally give the d-bag response, too.

    If I could only drink one beer for the rest of my life, I’d pick Bell’s Two Hearted Ale without flinching.

    What is the best beer I’ve ever tasted? Stone Old Guardian Spring 2010, and it was stored properly and not opened until sometime in October of 2013. It was everything I love about barley wine.

    The beer that has the most meaning to me is probably Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. I’m lucky enough to get my hands on it with relative ease. Since it’s such a big beer and I don’t just offer it up to any old schmuck that stops over for a beer, my dad and I often split one on his back porch. It’s nice to spend time with Dad sharing an excellent beer that we can both appreciate.

      • OG isn’t too difficult to find. Stone releases it every Spring, and just about every better-beer store should get a pretty hefty allotment.

        In odd-number years, they also release an Odd Release in addition to the standard version. 2013’s Odd Release was an Oak Smoked version.

        As with any barley wine, you’ll want to buy at least two bottles: one to try now, and one to store. The more you buy, the more you can store and try at different intervals.

  5. I agree, there’s no answer to this question… I’ll go through phases and get really into a beer for awhile, then find something else exciting.

    You should add “what’s your favourite beer to have with friends?” Which is, perhaps difficult as it depends on the friends… Friends often ask me to recommend a beer – “one of my favourites” – and the answer very much depends on what I think their tastes are.

    So if I had to choose… I’d run away, go to the pub, and enjoy a whole bunch.

    • This is an incredible paragraph from your piece:

      “Whitney Balliet —a past writer for The New Yorker— once described jazz as the sound of surprise. Why not beer as the taste of surprise? Inspired riffing on a flavored theme. Jazz in a glass.”

      Thanks for sharing, Tom!

  6. I usually answer “Geuze.” It’s my favorite style and usually satisfies the person asking without venturing into DB territory. It also satisfies me since the answer is broadly true.

    My “desert island” beer would be Boon Mariage Parfait Geuze. I never get tired of drinking it and do so as often as I can. On a practical side, if I’m stranded on a desert island it has a 20 year best by date and will probably last longer, so I don’t have to worry about my beer getting old and gross tasting!

    The best beer I’ve ever had would have to be Rodenbach Vin de Cereale. I was De Kulminator in Antwerp. Of all the years of drinking amazing beer, that was the first “transcendent” beer I’d ever consumed. Literally all the noise around me disappeared and it was just me and that beer in that moment.

    The last question is a bit harder. At this point in my beer career, both as a professional and hobbyist, I’ve had so many amazing experiences related to beer that I can’t pick just one. Is it drinking Chimay inside the monastery? Is it sharing a Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait with Frank Boon and his son Karel standing in his wood cellar? Is it being given a Westvleteren 12 for teaching a beer glass and sharing it with my best friend? Is it sitting at a table with Ken Grossman and drinking a SIerra Nevada Pale Ale? Could be a ton of Labatt’s I shared with my dad on a bus ride to Seattle where we both watched our first Major League Baseball game.

    Nice post, Josh!

  7. Ah, “The Question”. I seem to be able to answer this fairly easy in my head, until someone actually asks. You know, like that annoying thing your brain does where it totally forgets a fact that you know by heart, a split second after someone asks a question about it. I hate that.

    Fav : Arrogant Bastard, or at least, the one I reach for most when I just want “a beer”. I’d also give a nod to Blithering Idiot, and DFH’s Theobroma or Hell Hound, when I can find those last two on draft.

    Best : Any beer I’ve had on the Royal Mile in Scotland. X10 if I’m inside Deacon Brodie’s. I just love pub crawling that street.

    Memorable : My first Pete’s Wicked Ale. It was dark, malty AND hoppy – something nothing else on the liquor store shelves was at that time. A dark beacon in a sea of straw colored conformity.

    At least that’s my answers TODAY. Check back tomorrow.

  8. I really hate that question. It’s so hard to narrow down to 20 favorite beers, let alone one.

    A beer I could drink every day would be Bling Pig IPA. It’s also my most memorable. I lived a few blocks from Russian River Brewing and it’s there that I began my beer exploration. It has always been my go to.

    The best beer ever, obviously hard to answer would be Dayman Coffee IPA by Stone. It was just so unusual and extremely addictive tasting. Green tea meets coffee in a weird way.

    Great post! Gets you thinking.

    • Every East Coaster reading this is extremely jealous of you. I was fortunate enough to have Blind Pig once. Can’t say I’ve had Dayman yet but I’m adding it to my list now. Thanks for sharing!!

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