Memories are fascinating to me. How we can store and then recall specific elements of time and then discount and purge so many other moments. What prompts one moment to stand out? Especially, amidst so many other, seemingly similar, moments.

Mark and I often share our “3 most memorable beers” during conversations with fellow beer folk and since many of our top 3 consist of one time only beers we often wonder if it was the beer itself or the other aspects of the experience that influenced our ratings.

Earlier this March we journeyed back to Portland, Oregon (a.k.a. the Motherland for craft beer enthusiasts) and I set a course to visit Cascade Brewing, due to my beer-emory of their Manhattan NW Sour that I had sampled during the fall of 2016.

Back home, in Southern Ontario, sour beers have sprouted up and provided a glimpse of a taste that I have embraced wholeheartedly, however this style of barrel-aged sour blew my mind! Rated as a sour/wild ale this beauty is said to be a, “….blend of Blond Quad aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels on 150 pounds of sour pie cherries for five months before additionally aging on apricot noyaux for three months”. Did I mention that it weighs in at a 11.32% ABV? What????
I remember wanting to get a bottle to take home and seeing the $30 US price tag, saying, “Ummmm, nope! I’ll wait until I come back to Portland”.  And so the lore of the illustrious Manhattan grew amongst any willing listener to my beer narratives.

Fast forward two years….a number of beer-emories later….and I look to Mark and say, “Today we will go to Cascade and I plan to just drink the Manhattan. Many pints of the Manhattan.” (Perhaps it was a tad more fluid than a military plan debriefing)

And so it goes…the best laid plans….

Scene: Mark and Liz enter Cascade 2 minutes after they open. They scan the tap board and notice that the Manhattan is not on said board. Liz looks confused. The bartender states that they are still working through the beers from their Sour Fruit Fest. He explains that the Manhattan is going to go back onto their tap list the next day. Liz realizes their flight from PDX to YYZ….leaves at 10:30 AM….the next day.  Liz sighs….deeply. So the bartender recommended every ‘kinda’ ‘sorta’ version of the Manhattan and low and behold they were all…well…schmeh….

Perhaps my tastes have changed. Perhaps the $30 price tag skewed my memory to value the beer more. Perhaps that beer, two years ago, was the perfect synergy of novel taste and fantastic life moment to make a lasting memory impact. Or perhaps I was not meant to have the Manhattan after all. Perhaps I need to be content with the spirit of this ‘beer’-emory.