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!
Welcome to the first of three beer blogger interviews in a series featuring the brilliant (and ultra sexy) minds behind one of the hottest internet beer-themed video podcasts: New Brew Thursday.
Each and every Thursday, the boys from New Brew Thursday take their thirsty viewers on an adventure through beer geekdom. Some how, the boys seem to get their hands on some pretty rare and unique cult beers — and we are all forced to live vicariously through their video podcast tastings. Expect to see The Wench on a few of their shows in the very near future!
INTRODUCING: STEPHEN JOHNSON
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
I played peewee soccer, but sucked. Then in Jr High played Football.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
Um.. Awkward. LOL I was 9 when I had my first beer, and I hated it. It was a Budweiser product of some sort. I swiped from my parent’s fridge and hid it in a snow boot in my closet (called moon boots back then) where it was forgotten for about 2 weeks. When I did find it, I basically drank a can of warm, old Budweiser.
Looking back on it, I think later in life that incident curbed me away from the crap massed produced beer & I have never really been a macro beer drinker.
5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, and sports did you partake in during college?
I attended SCTC in Mankato, MN for Computer Programming. I also attended MSU to handle general stuff.
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:
I have always bee considered a “beer snob” by my friends since I refused the Coors and Bud products and would drink Newcastle or Guinness. My craft beer epiphany came from a Home Brew festival I attended a few years back.
I was trying a home brewed porter and talking to the brewer and I started complaining that good beers could be found at the Home brewer festival. The Brewer asked me what I normally drank and I told him Newcastle or Guinness (notably proud of myself) and he chuckled, took me aside and from his cooler, introduced me to about 4 different craft beers from Sierra Nevada, of course, Stone brewing company, and a couple of others that I don’t remember.
Needless to say, I was blown away! I couldn’t believe that commercial beer could have that much complexity, flavor and intensity. I was sold. From then on, I searched everywhere to find a place that I could find “Craft beer” which at that point I thought was a California thing. LOL
Since then, I have learned much, but am still beer child wandering through a Willie Wonka like land of Craft beer, each one making me happier then the last.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
The only other unique event was when I was first able to help someone else find the thrill of Craft Beer. I had a close friend who was a Coors light fiend. He agreed to expand his horizons, once a week, as long as I paid for the beer. So once a week we would get together and try out a new beer that neither of us had ever had. He converted, and even introduced me to a wider range of craft beers.
1. How long have you been working on New Brew Thursday?
I tend to forget that New Brew Thursday is also a blog, since we focus pretty solely on the video show. But New Brew Thursday actually started out as a twitter / flickr project where we would post the new beer that we were drinking each week and what we thought of it. We discovered that people were actually paying attention to both, and following along, so we started taking our obligation to post more seriously, and it evolved to the blog then to the show. The official site went up in May of 2009, but we were doing the twitter / flickr thing for about a year before that.
2. What inspired you to start New Brew Thursday?
I kind of answered that above, but to add, the inspiration came from a single tweet on a Thursday night, later, that asked why we hadn’t posted a beer for the night. When I realized that I could reach a larger group of people, and help them to see the wonderful world of beer for what is truly, rather then what the In-Bev and Coors-Miller want you to think it is, I knew I had an obligation.
3. Why did you chose the name New Brew Thursday?
The name came from the fact that every Thursday night me and my buddies would get together and try a “new brew” … so New Brew Thursday.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
My immediate goal, is to help one person each show find the beer that will be the beer that creates their own craft beer epiphany. I feel like if I can convert at least one person each time I put out a show (or at least on average), then all the time and money is worthwhile.
Ultimately, I love to see the audience grow, and have the show turn into something more mainstream, allowing me the opportunity to be more involved in the craft beer industry.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
I have three, so bear with me.
- I got recognized at GABF. Which sounds vain, but what that person doesn’t know is that they saved the show. NBT was on hiatus, and I was without cast members to start it back up, so I was actually considering dropping the show all together and just going back to twitter / flickr thing. When he came up, and acted like he was meeting a celebrity, he told me how much he loved the show and how he shows it to his friends and they are getting more into Craft Beer, it really validated my need to do the show, and I left GABF more enthused to do the show then ever.
- I got to film an episode at the Stone World Gardens and Bistro, with Dr. Bill Sysak. There is nothing quite like kicking back with the beer Dr. himself drinking Double Bastard and eating food that he paired with it. EPIC!
- I have met some of the most amazing people in the world, like the Beer Wench, over the last couple of months, thanks to the show. That has been the best part of the show.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
This is a tough question for me, since it changes a lot. Right now…
Porters (this never changes)
Bourbon barrel aged beer
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Stone Brewing Company
The Lost Abbey
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
I think I would like to work for Dogfish Head. They are still on the extreme edge, while producing great beers. I love that. Although I will never leave SoCal, so they would have to move here.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
Technically, yes. I am home brewer. So far none of my brews have been good enough to even call beer. So I am on a learning journey with that.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
I am working towards my Cicerone certification, and to be a Beer Judge. But right now, still working towards it.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
The Lost Abbey’s Bourbon Angel’s Share with Dulce De Leche Caramel Cheescake.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I own a software development company called “The Lone Coder LLC”.
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 would want NBT to be my career. I initially thought I would answer Brewer to this question, but ultimately, my passion comes from helping people see how wonderful craft beer is, not from making my own.
3. Are you married? Children?
I am married with three furry kids (dogs) .
4. Outside of beer, video podcasting and Twitter, what are some of your other hobbies?
Is there anything else..
I play disc golf, love photography and want to get back into Mountain Bike riding and Motocycling.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be and why?
I would be a Baltic porter. I come from harsh beginnings but I finish sweet and love to be paired with dark cholocate.
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?
I would choose a Coors Light.. Since death is not as bad as Coors Light, it would give me something to look forward to when the beer was done.
3. If I contracted you to brew a beer (or design a beer recipe) called “The Beer Wench” — what style would you chose and what, if any, extra ingredients would you add?
It would be a DIPA, and I might consider Dry-Hopping it.
It would punch your taste buds in the face and then smile at you, and you would love every minute of it.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I want to be able to read peoples minds.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
When I was 11 I spent the night in a customs jail when my “ride” was caught smuggling drugs and illegal immigrants into the country.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
Bacon is the universes way of telling you that no matter how bad things get, it will always be ok in the end.
SPECIAL THANKS TO STEPHEN FOR HOSTING AN AMAZING BEER PODCAST AND ENTERTAINING ME ALL OVER THE INTERNET!