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According to the author, there's no place better to enjoy a beer than a campfire. Photo by Drew Farwell via Unsplash
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Cheers! North County: Top 10 beer happy places for 2021

The porch is where I do my most relaxed beer drinking. It is where my beer always tastes the best. It is a Beer Happy Place. Beer is the beverage of the people. It has the power to transform minds and situations and build economies. It also seems to be connected to spots on the Earth that make whatever style or brand you’re drinking taste better, smoother, more flavorful.

A little over a year ago, I compiled a list of Beer Happy Places. The top 10 places where drinking a beer will cause an irrepressible sigh of satisfaction to be released into the world. These Beer Happy Spots are where drinking a beer is more than drinking a beer. The flavors are enhanced. The experience is heightened. The emphasis is on the place, not the situation.

Today I’m revisiting, revising and improving that curated top 10 list. For posterity, I’ll put last year’s ranking at the end of each spot.

  1. Around a campfire: Campfires moved up to take the No. 1 spot this year. Campfires are magical places where the line between reality and shadow come together. At camp or in the backyard, a campfire calls for a beer while the stars begin to pop out between the treetops. (Last year’s rank: 2)
  1. Overlooking the ocean, lake or river: A large portion of beer is water, and when you take a moment to appreciate the places from whence it came, you’ll find your beer tastes better. Expect some bonus appreciation in your mouth if you’re also watching a sunset. (Last year’s rank: 5)
  1. On top of a mountain: Either after hiking up it, or getting ready for your last run down to the ski lodge. Look out at the range and enjoy. That moment is tailor-made for an IPA like Eppig’s Wake Up and Slay. (Last year’s rank: 6)

    A beer at the beach, or any other body of water, is special. Photo by George Cox via Unsplash
  1. On the porch: It’s comfortable. It’s home. It is where we spent the better part of 2020, and despite our new vaccine-enabled freedom to enjoy more of the world, my relationship with the porch is stronger than ever. I appreciate the consistency of sitting down in my favorite chair, hearing the same sounds, knowing where the sun will be, and when the breeze is likely to kick up. The porch is your friend that always shows up. Honorable mention: the couch. (Last year’s rank: 8)
  1. On a boat: Pull up on a sandbar in a pontoon, cruise down the river in a kayak or just float out in the middle. The type of boat matters. Canoes, kayaks, pontoons and sailboats will inspire your taste buds more than a speedboat or cruise ship. Boat beers should be cold and refreshing like Societe Light Beer. (Last year’s rank: 7)

    Beer on top of a mountain climbs to No. 3 on this year’s list. Photo by @reiseuhu
  1. In the garage or workshop: These are places where work gets done, where cars get worked on and power tools are stored. Cards get played. Stories get told, and beers get drunk. You’re home, but you’re also out. According to my father, the best garage to have a beer in is his neighbor’s because “they have a beer refrigerator, and I don’t!” (Last year’s rank: 3)
  1. At the stadium: Some have been craving the experience during the pandemic, but there are also those of us who aren’t ready yet. A beer will still likely taste better if you’re tailgating in the parking lot or cheering en masse for your favorite team. Win or lose, that is going to be a good beer, but this year it comes with enough anxiety that it has dropped down on this list. (Last year’s rank: 4)
  1. On the roof: There is something cool about being on the roof. On the roof all things are possible. It is a place of big ideas and big flavors. Due to the safety concerns of drinking at great heights, stick with a lower ABV pilsner or wheat ale. I’m still partial to Oceanside’s Bagby Sweet Ride Pilsner (now in cans!). Why did the roof drop so far? I’d counter with why was it so high in the first place? Yes, I know I compiled the list, but do you remember what you were thinking a year ago? (Last year’s rank: 1)
  1. In the shower: A beverage in the shower implies that you are getting ready for something—a night out or just another beer. The anticipation is building and with it your beer drinking enjoyment. (Last year’s rank: 9)
  1. At the park: The smell of a grill. The whizz of a frisbee. A nap under some lazy clouds and the potential risk of getting caught (it is illegal to drink alcohol in most local parks) makes the park a classic beer-happy spot. Bring the hammock and the park could move up a few spots. (Last year’s rank: 10)

I don’t think it is a surprise to see the biggest movers are those beer happy places that take you into the outdoors. I hope to have a beer in every single one of the spots on this list this summer. Find your beer happy places, and hopefully someday soon we can all leave the house to tip one back together. Until then, Cheers!

Did I miss one? Think my rankings are wrong? Let me know!

If you like craft beer, you probably also love a good cup of coffee. Pour a mug, and check out most recent episodes of the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast featuring interviews and coffee education with great local coffee professionals. Stream it now on The Coast News online or search for it on your favorite podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Thanks for listening, and for following Cheers! North County on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.