DRINK WITH THE WENCH PRESENTS:
The Beer Blogger Interview Series
Curious what goes on in the minds of your favorite beer bloggers? Well, The Beer Wench is and she has embarked upon a mission to interview as many beer bloggers that she can — from all over the world. Are you a beer blogger? Do you want to share your story? Send me an email!
INTRODUCING: LEE WILLIAMS
AUTHOR OF: HOPTOPIA
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
Tennis and… is Super Nintendo a sport?
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
About 13 or 14, yes I was on the young side – a reminder that legal drinking age is 18 in the U.K.
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
I am pretty sure my first beer was a Kronenbourg (none of that fancy 1664.) My Dad always had lots of French beer on hand and I would occasionally steel them to try.
5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?
I went to the University of West England, were I gained a BA in Media, Communications and Advertising. Is Sony PlayStation a sport?
Craft Beer Epiphany
Every craft beer enthusiast has at least one pinnacle craft beer experience that completely changes ones perspective on beer. I refer to this mind-blowing moment as a “craft beer epiphany.”
1. What was your first craft beer epiphany? Recall as many details about it as you can:
My first craft beer epiphany occurred in Philadelphia in the early 2000’s. Up to that point I had been drinking beer without paying much attention to what it was – mainly standard British and American pub ales – Boddingtons, Guinness, Budweiser, Newcastle Brown etc. – around that time in Philly though I started spending a lot of time in music venues, many of which happened to have decent bars, I forget exactly which venue it was, but someone handed me the first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale I’d ever had and literally within seconds it was as if my beer appreciating blinkers were torn from my face and all was revealed.
The Sierra was so fresh and different, it give me pause enough to contemplate that there might actually be a story, a brain and a process behind the ‘booze’ in my hand. From that point on I’ve paid attention to every single beer I’ve ordered. That little green labeled bottle of Sierra really birthed my appreciation of beer, though.
2. Have you had additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
Hundreds, nay thousands! Far more than I can possibly do justice to. One recent beer epiphany has been my stumbling across Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project – their brews are incredible.
Pretty Things founder and brewer Dann Paquette has a phenomenal amount of brewing experience on both sides of the Atlantic and Pretty Things has the potential to be a huge and influential player in the craft beer world.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing HOPTOPIA?
Since Halloween 2009.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I wanted to start funneling my obsession of sampling as many new beers as possible in a more tangible, productive and useful direction.
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
1.) I wanted something short and easy for people to remember.
2.) I wanted a name that basically conveyed the idea of ‘beer heaven.’
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
I believe all goals should be ambitious and my goal for Hoptopia is definitely ambitious. The primary goal is to create the most comprehensive, colorful and straightforward beer guide on the internet, a resource interesting to existing craft beer enthusiasts, but more importantly a resource that is approachable and useful to the millions of curious and often bewildered craft beer newbies out there.
The craft beer industry must continue to eat macro brew market share and it can only do so if a whole lot more people stop buying macro brews and switch to craft. I believe Hoptopia can play a role in encouraging more people to check out craft beer in a more active and dedicated way.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
This interview is pretty darn cool, thanks for having me.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
BeerNews.org is a brilliant resource. I love what Brad Chmielewski and Ken Hunnemeder are doing with Hopcast, their approach to craft beer is spot on. Life for us established beer nerds would be a lot more difficult without Beer Advocate, so that has to be my third choice.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
Russian Imperial Stout, Saison, IPA
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Besides Pretty Things, I’d have to say 21st Amendment, Mikkeller, Nogne O
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
I’m not really interested in working for a brewery. I think I can serve a better purpose as a purveyor for the entire craft beer industry – I’m a great example for others as I didn’t discover craft beer until well into my twenties and after years of drinking only macro brews.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
Homebrewers rule, I am not one.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
Classrooms send me to sleep. Kudos if you do work towards these certifications though, that’s pretty awesome.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
There are many combos within this, but Dark Belgian ales with the right kind of pungent cheese is hard to beat.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I am the Assistant for the Creative department of an independent global PR firm called Edelman in New York City – it’s a very demanding, logistics heavy job that keeps me on my toes for 9-10 hours a day. I love the people I work with.
2. If you could change your career at this very moment, without any restrictions on what you could do, what would you want to do and why?
I don’t worry too much about my next career steps. I’ve discovered that if you’re confident, work as hard as humanly possible – and I’m talking 18 hours a day hard, 7 days a week hard – and if you never bullshit people, doors and opportunities have a tendency to open up for you whenever you need them to. What this means for me in 2010 and beyond… well, we shall see, it’s always exciting and at the end of the day, that’s what really counts.
3. Are you married? Children?
I am not.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
I love food and wine – I still have my training wheels on with both, but love learning about them. I also love the business of business, the ins and outs of building and managing businesses successfully… it fascinates and excites me.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be and why?
Probably an IPA, because I’m fresh, can be abrasive and am always looking forward to the future by constantly evolving – think: Triple, Black and fusion IPA’s.
2. You were caught smuggling beer illegally, which has now been made punishable by death. Right before you are sent to the executioner, you are offered one last beer. What beer would you chose and why?
Oscar Blues Ten FIDY Imperial Stout. Why? Because however many cans you drink in a lifetime it’s never going to be enough – the stuff is amazing and puts a smile on my face.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I wouldn’t want superhuman powers, seems too much like cheating, I’d prefer manmade powers – like those of Iron Man / Tony Stark, he’s rich, suave, sarcastic, unapologetically obsessed with his passions… and he can fly! – I respect all of those traits…. especially the flying.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
Immigrating to the U.S. is pretty damn crazy in the grand scheme of things – the word ‘adventure’ cannot even begin to describe saying goodbye to your family, leaving the place you grew up so you can create a new life for yourself half way around the world. It’s not for everyone.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
One word – ambrosia.
SPECIAL THANKS TO LEE FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!