It was May 6th, 2010, and FC Barcelona had just been crowned champions of La Liga for the 20th time following a 4-0 victory over Valladolid. I was amidst a crowd of tens of thousands on Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas road celebrating the victory. People of all demographics packed the strip, and as the subtle hints of hash smoke sifted through the crowd, an infectious joy could be seen on the faces of all present.
Las Ramblas, seen below as a tree-lined artery that funnels to the Mediterranean, is both a central point for tourists and for the Catalan people to celebrate their culture and rally against Spanish nationalism.
This is where I fell in love with Estrella Damm. A Spanish pilsener, brewed in Barcelona since 1876, Estrella Damm in not much unlike other pilseners: simply put, a hoppier version of a lager that still has the easy drinking crisp finish of other lagers. Estrella Damm is as much a part of the city as is FC Barcelona and the common desire for sovereignty from the Spanish state.
I first had an Estrella Damm that very day, as thousands congregated on Las Ramblas, bought in a six-pack from a North African teenager with a piece of hash for 10 euros on a street corner not a stone's throw from the hostel I was staying at with two friends from London, England, and strangely enough, a 30-something man from Orlando who worked for Disney and was obsessed with the Orlando Magic and those hideous athletic sandals American tourists wear like a badge of honour. Packed like sardines in a tin, we eventually lost contact amidst the throngs of Catalans, only to meet up later that night on the beach, exhausted from hours of jubilation and excessive consumption of Estrella Damm.
That day, amongst thousands of proud Catalans, the world felt smaller than it ever had, as I passed the red-canned beers and hash cigarettes hastily spun in a clear Rizla to anybody who showed interest. Snapping photos with strangers, being hoisted up on the shoulders on the Spanish equivalent of Shrek, briefly adopting Barcelona as my club of choice, with a replica jersey covering month's worth of sun burns and travel wounds.
I will never forget that day and the child-like joy I experienced trapped in a crowd thousands of miles from home. To this day, there is always at least a single can of Estrella Damm in my fridge, and each time I open one, I think of this day and how happy I was.
Similarily, last summer, when visiting NYC with my little brother to watch a Mets-Padres series, I joined Deadspin commenter BringBackAnthonyMason at fat-leaveher's Manhattan No Idea Bar to talk shop and discuss the joys of commenting on a sport's blog. Fatty - who is not fat in the least - sold beers at his bar that reminded him of his childhood. Together, we drank cans of Schaefer's and did shots of who-knows-what, as Fatty described how the beer was a staple of his teenage years and described that he sold it as his bar for that very reason. His love for Schaefer's and the reasons for it is no different than my attachment to Estrella Damm.
Alcohol is more than a means to take a load off following a long day of work/internet commenting: it's a means of remembering our pasts, more importantly, particular moments that remind us of our youth, and we pass these moments along like postcards with friends and family when consumed.
It would be appreciated if in the comments section below, you'd describe a drink or beer that reminds you of a time in your life worth noting. Thank you for reading this instalment of Boozepin, you can find other ones here and here. The author can be found on twitter @mj_chandler or in the Deadspin comments section making Adam Morrisson jokes.