Sorry to use the over-referenced “Cheers” line, but there really is something to be said for a place where everyone knows your name. I know I personally have always sought to be a “regular” somewhere special, and that’s because when you settle in and aren’t sure what to order, the bartender can make a suggestion of something new and you will love it. My spot is Moe’s Tavern in Lee, Massachusetts. It is small, casual, low-brow, varying in attendance, and unwavering in quality.

The food is unadorned and perfect that way (my favorites are the McDonald’s-Looking Fries, the (Dogfish Head) 60-Minute Wings, and the Philly Cheese Blunt—each of them simple and just what you want to go alongside a stellar microbrew). Moe’s has a wide-ranging, well-selected collection of craft beers, both on tap and in bottles. Owner Josh Cohen is longtime best-buds with Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione and so the house beer (marked with a Simpsons tap handle) is the 60-Minute IPA, which is a steadfast choice on any given night.

But the rotation of microbreweries on tap includes a geographic spread of a wide range of styles including Green Flash West Coast IPA, Abita Purple Haze, Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout, Founder’s Pale Ale, Brooklyn Cookie Jar Porter, Gritty McDuff’s Black Fly Stout, Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale, McLausen’s St. Ambroise Stout, and Stone Ruination IPA. Bottles (and cans) include a full spectrum of Dogfish Head options, several Avery brews (including their IPA, one of my go-to favorites), the whimsical array of Flying Dog ales, and plenty more.

Music varies depending on the bartender, but when we’re there on Thursdays (or as we’ve fondly and popularly renamed them, “Moesdays”) it tends to be 90’s alternative rock—the kind that causes you to stop mid-conversation to sentimentally exclaim, “Man, I love this song.”

I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to have a bad time when you’re at Moe’s. I don’t know what it is about that place, and maybe it has a lot to do with the amazing people I go there with, but every visit is brimming with intensely fun and satisfying conversations that make you feel like you’re a part of something great. I just plain love it.

I’ve celebrated my birthday there in some way for the past three years and each one has had its own special twists. This year, however, harked back to what I love about craft beer culture and the beer bars that embrace it. Josh offered up a birthday beer from his private stash, noting that it was (a) tough to get on this coast and (b) unique in that this small-batch ale is brewed and bottled by hand, making it one-of-a-kind every time.

The beer? San Diego-based artisan microbrewery AleSmith IPA. The modern, minimalistic 22-oz bottle bore the clever backronym: I Prefer Ales and It’s Pretty Awesome (which it is), plus a detailed background of this cool, homebrewer-run, uber-microbrewery. It had a beautiful floral hop aroma and a pleasant bitterness balanced by a pretty intense tartness with a slight berry-like quality. This naturally carbonated, bottle-conditioned ale was light and bubbly like champagne—perfect for a birthday celebration. Cheers to that and to Moe’s!

Special Thanks to: Josh, Sadie, The List, and Mom & Dad

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