When I first started calling myself a ‘craft beer enthusiast’ I started to notice that my interest in a beer waned the more it was readily available. A trip to the local Beer Store or LCBO was usually not the place to try new beer. More often than not, it involved a trip to a new locale or a gift from a travelling friend.

My most memorable beer highlights two of my observations about craft beer: #1 – limited release, one-offs or only available in _____, excites the heck out of beer enthusiasts,  #2 – the experience surrounding a beer can often make the taste forgettable but the memory everlasting

While I would love to say that my most memorable beer was a craft beer, alas it was not.  In 1985 the closest I came to craft beer was a home brewed batch that my father had tried to make in the basement (mostly so that he could save a few dollars at the Beer Store). No, my beer would be one of the many brands brewed under the Labatt label. However, this major brand beer was different; it was only available in British Columbia.

Picture it……1985……a beer marketing world that relied on print ads, tv spots and drinking whatever your dad drank, to entice a thirsty market to load a few two-fours of their favourite label into the trunk of the Buick after work on a Friday.  New to the world of beer I drank what most ‘newly of drinking age’ would have…..free beer that other people would provide.  And that is where Terry enters the story.

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Terry and I, in Valemount, British Columbia (1989)

Terry was my friend’s cousin from British Columbia and for a young man his age he exuded a confidence that was unlike anything I had ever seen.  Within minutes of meeting our small, close-knit group of friends he managed to enthrall us instantly. Regaling us with stories of salmon fishing in the St. Lawrence river, hiking through the mountains and working at his family’s campground, Terry painted a picture of a part of Canada that I had never experienced. Terry told of a beer that you could only get in B.C. and with that, the indirect marketing of Kokanee to a young woman from Peterborough, Ontario began and I was hooked!

A six-pack brought to Ontario and offered as a birthday gift provided the first taste of this mythical beer and then a few years later a youthful road trip allowed me to visit the home of Kokanee (and Terry).  Truth be told – I didn’t really like beer back then and I can’t even remember if I liked the taste.  I do remember that when Kokanee was available in Ontario (and I actually liked beer by then) I tried some and while it allowed me to wander down memory lane, it did not live up to the hype in my head.

As I write this post I wondered why, out of all the wonderful craft beers I have tried, that this is my most memorable.  Perhaps because it prompted me to experience the connection between beer, people, places and the wonderful spirit that can be left untapped in our memories.

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