For reasons we’re all tired of hearing about, the precautions of the past year and a half haven’t spared beer drinkers.
More often than not, meeting friends for beers now means picking a place with outdoor seating and taking our IPAs, pilsners, porters and ambers outside.
Local pubs and breweries have responded responsibly, helpfully dragging heaters and fire pits onto their patios as winter descended and setting up cooling misters to relieve the swelter of summer.
All this has led more than one local beer sage to conclude that outdoor drinking really isn’t that bad. In fact, maybe it’s even better.
And that leads to a natural question: Is beer better indoors or outside?
Depends who you ask.
Linda Kane, payroll administrator at Catholic Charities in Yakima, didn’t hesitate.
“Outdoors,” she said. “Everything tastes better outdoors.”
“Around the fire, in the mountains after a good ride on a good horse,” added Selah’s Su Griffin.
Besides, as one retiree put it: “Belching is less frowned upon and it doesn’t matter where the peanut shells go.”
Tough to argue with any of that. Campfires and rigorous outdoor activity just seem to call for a cold one — preferably pulled from a cooler full of ice.
On the other hand, exactly what kind of cold one are we talking about? Because for some folks, the brand of the brew sets the venue.
“Depends on the beer,” said former Yakima resident Gary Nelson. “Most beer is great outdoors, but a pint of Guinness, it seems to me, just doesn’t taste right unless it’s inside a pub.”
Or maybe outdoors vs. indoors is more of an extrovert vs. introvert thing?
Richland’s Pete Christensen, for instance, favors inside — “Where I don’t have to talk to anyone.”
A diplomatic guy like former Yakima Mayor Micah Cawley staked out the middle ground. “I think the answer is both,” said Cawley, who these days is Midwest regional key account sales manager for John I. Haas Inc.
“Some days you just need to get outside and enjoy a fresh beer in natural surroundings. Other days you find yourself in a cool taproom tasting through a flight of new and flavorful brews.”
Reesha Cosby, president of the Yakima branch of the NAACP and a local radio personality, can see good points on both sides, too.
“Well, while it is tempting to say it is better to drink beer indoors to drown out the sound of kids screaming, I think it is better to drink beer outdoors with your friends,” she said. “Because friends make beer taste better — especially when your friends have a pool.”
With all these thoughts splashing and foaming up, we figured it was time to call in an expert.
So we called on Yakima Magazine’s resident beer aficionado, Ryan Messer.
“It’s gotta be outside,” he said. “If you’re drinking a beer outside, you’re more often than not enjoying life to the fullest. You could be chatting or eating on the deck with friends, out on the water, laying by a pool, camping — you name it. There’s also few things that beat a cold beer after a tough outdoor project.”
Good points. Guess that’s why he’s our beer expert.
Messer even has some staggering studies to back up his conclusions:
“I’ve tried to recollect all of my beer drinking experiences for this answer. My statistics tell me there is a 63.2% chance you will have a better time with a cold one outdoors.”
Hmm. Not sure how reliable his calculations are, but he’s probably somewhere near the right answer.
If anybody would have the actual right answer, you’d think it’d be somebody like Derrick Nordberg. He’s the owner and brewer at Cowiche Creek Brewing Co.
“The best place to have a beer is both,” he said. “Inside your tractor, outside in your field drinking a beer you made while harvesting the crops you worked so hard to grow. There is nothing more refreshing but also rewarding than that feeling.”
Yeah. Hard to imagine anything better than that. We’re glad guys like Nordberg are out there, keeping the beer flowing.
And with that, we’ll grab our glass and show ourselves out.