What’s the secret the the perfect beer?” I know it’s kind of a silly question but, if you drink beer for reasons beyond the undeniable pleasures of inebriation, then I’d bet good money that you’ve pondered it before. For someone like me — a man obsessed with tasting every color of beer’s bountiful rainbow — it’s a question to ask before every drink order, every grocery store check out, and every home brewing session.
So it’s no surprise that “What’s the secret to the perfect beer?” was also the one question I kept asking during a weekend of camping, drinking, and eating at Elk Mountain Farms, for Goose Island’s “Road to the Harvest.”
“If you ask me, the secret to the perfect beer is taste,” said Susan, a contest winner from New York who was sitting next to me at dinner on the first night of Goose Island’s yearly hop festival. “If the beer doesn’t taste good then why would you drink it?”
I should point out that dinner was being served on long tables that stretched out between rows of bright green Amarillo hops. They’re the same hops that give Goose Island’s Sofie — perhaps my favorite table beer — it’s signature taste. As luck would have it, it’s also the beer that Susan and I were drinking as we talked.
“This beer tastes amazing,” she said. “I’m not drinking it because I’m thirsty, or because it’s refreshing, or even because I’m enjoy my buzz. I’m drinking it because it tastes amazing.”
I nodded and took a long drink. “Maybe the perfect beer is just free beer.”
Tom and Beth, another set of contest winners from Chicago who were sitting across from me, laughed at my not-quite-sober-yet-still-kinda-charming joke. We hadn’t even been served any food, but already our first night’s dinner was off to a fine start.
“The perfect beer accompanies the perfect meal,” said a man sitting across the table and a few seats down. I forgot his name but, after a few bottles of Sofie, can you really you blame me?