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Oktoberfest!
Easing your election stress.


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Can’t take the election stress? Really want…a drink? You’re not alone. Always in your service, NRO asked some regular guys in these parts what beer hits the right spot for them. (We figure it breaks the tension a little and might put you in a more comfortable mood to get out the vote.) Compiled by NR editorial associate Elizabeth Fisher (Hoegaarden)…enjoy!

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Rick Brookhiser: Bud. Ubiquitous, consistent. The citizen of beers, the beer of citizens.

Ed Capano: Without a doubt, Guinness. They take great pains in the production process and it is evident. The taste, the aroma, and the fact that it seems to go down so easily. However, it must be drunk in a pub and not out of a bottle or a can.

Shannen W. Coffin: My favorite beer? Easy choice. Ireland’s own Harp Lager. Guinness is a close second, but here in the States it lacks the bite that a slightly cold pint enjoys in Dublin. I won’t disclose how many pints I might have consumed in my earlier days, but there are probably some witnesses. Don’t believe them, though. They were as far gone as I. And for a most enjoyable time in downing a pint of either Irish brew, get yourself to O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel in New Orleans’s French Quarter. A little like “Cheers.” Tell Danny O’Flaherty, the fair-haired proprietor and entertainer, that I sent you.

John Derbyshire: I grew up drinking draught English “bitter” ale from the pump, and never lost the taste for it. I don’t bother to seek it out here, though it’s not hard to find; but every time I’m back on the Ould Sod I drink a pint and think: “This is wonderful stuff!” So far as European/American-style “lager” beer is concerned, I like it, and drink about a six-pack a week, but can’t tell one brand from another, and would flunk any blind taste test. If I’m out with company and asked to declare a choice, I ask for Heineken; but that’s just for sentimental reasons.

Jack Fowler: Damn the Huns! In honor of our Coalition of the Willing Paesanos, make my birra a Peroni. Tastes great, and goes well with a nice bowl of pasta marinara al dente. My Mom was a Marconi, so drinking the occasional Peroni lets me scratch the heritage itch (no greaseball jokes!).

David Frum: What’s my beer? Plain old American beer. There are all kinds of beers. Budweiser makes beer. Sometimes I drink draft beer.

Jim Geraghty: Guinness. When I went on my honeymoon to Ireland, I learned there were three foods that tasted better there than anywhere else I’ve been before or since: smoked salmon, scones, and pints of Guinness. (Did you know scones are supposed to be soft? And warm? We have been eating petrified blueberry and cranberry fossils on this side of the pond.)

Why is Guinness so much better in its native environment? Well, for starters, a few bartenders here in the U.S. don’t know you’re supposed to fill the glass about three quarters of the way, let the color change from milky brown to nearly solid black, and then top it off. Many Irish bartenders leave a shamrock print on the foamy head. Everything about this beer is distinctive–its color, its taste, its traditional glass (You just can’t serve it in a mug), its logo, its two-step serving process.

In addition, in a glass of Guinness, the bubbles flow down, not up. (At least the ones closest to the side of the glass.) Scientists have actually researched this phenomenon, probably one of the most fun areas of scientific study.

Jonah Goldberg: I drink beer less than I used to–which some believe is the cause for the two-percent drop in U.S. domestic beer sales. As longtime readers of NR know, I am a big fan of Budweiser (On demand! Without Apology!), and that hasn’t changed. However, if I’m going to have only one or two beers with a meal, I prefer Bass Ale on tap. Icy cold. I also like to make that rude smacky sound and then sigh after the first sip.

Victor Davis Hanson: I confess that I drink either Corona or Dos Equis. Why? Because in our local central California community that is overwhelmingly Mexican-American, that is what I grew up drinking, and as I got older I got used to their light (dare I say water-like?) taste. So, I got hooked and don’t drink much else other than Corona.

Rich Lowry: My favorite beer is Budweiser. That drives true beer connoisseurs crazy, but there it is. I consider it an old stand-by, a standard-issue, unpretentious American beer. Best served in a bottle. One of my favorite magazine assignments was asking Jonah to write his “In Defense of Budweiser” piece back in the NR September 25, 2000 Issue.

Cliff May: I like beer. But truth be told, I don’t drink it much in Washington. I work too hard, sit at my computer too many hours, don’t get enough exercise. I’m always on a diet.

But in other times and places I’ve enjoyed a cold one as much as the next guy. Let me tell you everything I’ve learned about beer. It won’t take long.

I spent some of the best years of my life in Colorado. Colorado is known for having the most microbreweries per capita, or per square mile, or some statistic like that. To my taste, no beers are better than carefully handcrafted microbrews. My favorite Colorado microbrew is Fat Tire amber ale. (Just don’t call it Flat Tire or people will know you’re a flatlander.)

If you can’t get a fresh micro beer, you want something on draft. Beer out of a keg is always better than anything from a can or a bottle. That’s just the way it is.

Draft Guinness is the nectar of the gods. Draft Guinness in a cozy pub in the Irish countryside–well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

All my experience drinking beer in Ireland has been in Ulster. I’ve downed pints there with Catholics and Protestants during the height of the “troubles,” I’ve quaffed with peacemakers and those who–how shall I put this?–have indicated a tolerance for violence of which I strongly disapprove. Years ago, when I was young and fancy-free, I even drank with a pretty Irish Jewish girl by the unlikely name of Marina Hollywood. (Well, she told me that was her name and in those fancy-free days, I believed it.)

One more thing: In a hot place, a cold beer can’t be beat. So when I was Africa correspondent for the New York Times years ago (for you younger readers, this was before the Times made the transition from the “newspaper of record” to a leading journal of liberal opinion) I drank a lot of African beer.

My favorite was Tusker, a Kenyan premium lager. Tusker was reported to be Hemingway’s favorite beer as well, but, sadly, I didn’t get to drink any with him. If memory serves, in the old days, Tusker’s slogan was: Bia Ni Bora, Swahili for “Beer is Better.” But nowadays, I understand, the labels say: Bia Y Angu Nchi Yangu–”My Beer My Country,” an evident attempt to use patriotism to compete against foreign imports.

I was such a loyalist I even bought a Tusker T-shirt and mug. The Tusker symbol was, of course, an elephant. For some reason, the particular elephant depicted on the labels in those days had his front legs crossed in an odd way.

We speculated that perhaps he had had one too many beers but was reluctant to relieve himself until the artist had finished the drawing.

Andrew C. McCarthy: Ah, yes…there was a time I might have said a frosty Molson Golden or even a Berliner Weisse with a dash of raspberry syrup. But, alas, at 45, 210 pounds, and preferring to buy American, I have gravitated toward Michelob Ultra. Still, the closest I get to the trim mountain climbers in the Ultra commercials is via the TV clicker!

Chris McEvoy: I once barfed outside an Oktoberfest tent in Brooklyn. I think it was Dinkelacker, and that’s not a comment on the beer, just a fact. Dink is a good, punchy beer, as are many of the German brands. To me, German beers are the beers that are best when poured from the sides of trucks that are painted with pictures of giant, big-handed women. Rarely have I bought German beers by the bottle for home consumption. Löwenbrau, though, has been an exception. It came along in the 1300s and made it to me in the 1980s. I liked it best in eight-pack nip sizes on Friday nights. I thought it was a fine (even classy) beer, until I went to Munich in the 1990s and had it there. I now know that for years I wasn’t even drinking real Löwenbrau, but an Americanized version of it bottled by Miller. For the last two years, however, Löwenbrau, the original, has been available in the states. It’s a very drinkable foreign beer: clean and easy with a creamy head and that extra German hop. I’ve had some recently and believe it to be much less retchable than Dinkelacker–but again that’s not a comment on the beer.

John J. Miller: My favorite beer is Polar, “hecho en Venezuela,” as the bottle says. Or used to. I haven’t seen it around for a few years. So now I usually drink Corona. I’ve always been a softie on immigration.

Jay Nordlinger: Root beer, from those microbreweries, in those dark, dark bottles.

Mac Owens: I’m sorry if I am boring, but my very favorite beer is Sam Adams Boston Lager. It is sufficiently robust, with substantial flavor and body, but light enough that one may imbibe (ahem!) more than a couple. Sam Adams Boston Lager illustrates that American beer is the peer of both English and German brews.

A close second is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. And on a nice warm summer day, nothing beats a Coors (original). Ahh, it reminds me of my youth in California.

Ramesh Ponnuru: You mean you have to choose?

Andrew Stuttaford: The finest beer I have ever, ahem, ‘tasted’? That’s easy: the rich, dark, different and delightful Aldaris Porter from Latvia, best drunk on a snowy winter night in Riga. For those who can’t make it to Riga or to winter, I’d recommend one of the refreshing German wheat beers–a real summer treat and, yes, it’s O.K. to add a slice of lemon.



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