It is official. I have decided to journey into territory that only a few have entered — and even fewer have survived.
I am trespassing into NO MAN’S LAND. And instead of wearing camouflage and hiding in the bushes, I will be parading myself in bright neon colors and flashy sequins.
Now. I know you must have some questions for me like … 1. Where is no man’s land 2. Why am I going there & 3. Why I am drawing so much attention to myself for doing so (the bright colors and flashy sequins thing)?
Depending on how long you have been following my blog and whether or not you know me as a person (in real life or on Twitter), you might be aware that in addition to being a beer connoisseur — I am also a wine geek. In fact, I am a professional of both. (Essentially, I am a slave of the restaurant industry — and my source of income greatly depends on my ability to sell wine, beer & food. Luckily, I am ridiculously passionate and very well educated about these topics.)
The truth is, my love for beer stemmed from my love for wine. And my love for wine stemmed from my love for food. Naturally, most people love food. Food is one of the most important things in life. Without food, life would cease to exist. Some people eat to sustain themselves and find virtually no passion in food. I pity these people. Food not only provides my body with the nourishment it needs, it feeds my mind, body and soul.
I have been a nerd since birth. And I have always been driven to self-educate. My parents can attest to this fact. It has always been my personal goal to become an “expert” in anything and everything that interests me. True, this goal can be very daunting. Nonetheless, I suffer from what I call “Peter Pan” syndrome and truly believe that I can do anything I put my mind to (I can fly! I can fly! I can fly!) …
After I graduated college, I became lost and confused. I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do with my life. I loved studying psychologoy and criminology, but I had no desire to go into professions in either field. Like most college graduates, I went through a BIG period of “soul-searching” and experimentation.
I also started cooking.
But not the type of cooking I had been doing since I was a kid … I started really cooking. And that’s when I started studying wine. I decided rather quickly that I wanted to receive Sommelier certification and the first book I picked up was “Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia.” My new found passion for food & wine led to a series of jobs in both wine retail and the restaurant industry.
The biggest break through for me was becoming a “Managing Partner” at a restaurant called The Northstar Cafe in Columbus, OH.
Although I had no prior restaurant management experience, the owners of the restaurant saw something in me that made them overlook this factor and take the gamble and hire me. I am forever indebted to them for this. (One of the owners, Kevin Malhame, is featured in the picture below).
After I completed management training (which included working every single position in the restaurant – from dishwasher to line cook to front of the house), I was given responsibility and control over all things beverage. This included beer – and not just any beer. The Northstar Cafe only sells craft beer. I knew very little about craft beer when I start, but like a good student I did my homework. And the rest is history. Well, sort of.
I won’t go any further into the choices that I’ve made since then that have brought me to where I am today (we will save that for my book, eh?). The point of this blog is to illustrate my love and passion for as well as my knowledge and experience with both beer and wine. This way my audience will better understand what I am about to do with both.
Which brings us back to NO MAN’S LAND.
My newest project is absolutely brilliant (in my opinion). The idea was inspired by a request I received from a friend in the wine industry to write an article for his blog recommending beers to wine drinkers. This got my thinking about the linear relationship between wine and beer. There are several commonalities between beer and wine — they are both described in terms of aroma, mouth-feel, body, taste, finish, etc.
Whereas wine is most commonly classified by varietal (in the U.S.), beer is categorized by style. There are many similar parallels between both classification systems. The characteristics of a single varietal of grape can changed based upon the region and area in the world in which it is grown. Similarly, there are multiple interpretations of each style of beer depending on where its produced and the ingredients being used.
My goal is to use my knowledge and experience to connect these two types of alcoholic beverages. I want to create linear pairings between styles of beer and varietals of wine. (This is either pure brilliance or pure madness). Yes, I know that I am trekking into dangerous territory by taking on such a challenge. However, I have reached a stage in my studies that has alluded me into thinking that this goal is in fact achievable and that I am in fact the man (the wench) for the job.
There will be haters, naturally. But this does not scare me.
And so … project enter NO MAN’S LAND begins. There is no turning back now!