Featured Beer Blogger: JOE MECCA 2


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!




Beer Blogger Interview

Full name: Joe Mecca
Twitter handle: @hopsandhickory (blog), @jfmecca (personal)
Name of blog: Hops & Hickory
Current location: I’ve lived in Raleigh, NC since 2003.

Background “Snapshot”

1. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Buffalo, NY and lived there until I was 27.

2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?

I was a runner in high school… track & cross country. As an adult, it’s been softball and, most recently, curling. Yes, we have curling in the South! Definitely more beer-friendly than running.

3. How old were you when you had your first beer?

Legally? 19, in Canada. I didn’t drink much prior to being able to buy it myself. When you’re underage, people buy cheap beer to get drunk. Even then, I hated the cheap stuff.

4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?

Not so much my first beer, but my first taste… I can still vividly remember being a kid and sitting on the front porch with my grandfather, and he let me try his Genesee Cream Ale. My grandmother was furious, but I thought it was pretty cool.

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 at Buffalo, where I majored in Communication with a concentration in PR & Advertising. Interesting in hindsight, but I wasn’t nearly as involved in other activities then as I had been earlier, or as I am now. I’ve always spread myself a bit thin, so college was a bit of a break from that.


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 managed a convenience store while going to college. We sold a lot of the big commercial brands, but always had a few single-facings of lesser-known brands that kept grabbing my attention. Finally, I tried a few of them and was immediately blown away by the quality. I never looked back.

2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:

At this point, every time I try something new, it’s like a wonderful new discovery. I’ve abandoned my comfort zone. The answer to, “what do you want to drink?” is “something I haven’t had before.”


Beer Blog Background

1. How long have you been writing HOPS AND HICKORY?

I launched it this past August.

2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Indirectly, it was Fat Tire. I’ve always enjoyed trying new beers and talking about them with others. Things came to a head this summer when within a span of a week, I had three different people ask me if I’d tried Fat Tire (I had), and what I thought of it. At that point, I decided to start actually logging reviews of beers as I tried them. I kicked things off with another New Belgium product, 1554. Ironically, I still haven’t done a review of Fat Tire yet.

3. Why did you chose the name of your blog?

After a lot of brainstorming about terms that worked well with beer and barbecue (the other focus of my blog), Hops & Hickory just kind of emerged as the perfect choice. Discovering that it was available was a very exciting moment.

4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?

Sharing great beers. I want to expose people to beers they haven’t tried before and invite them to help me keep expanding my beer universe. I’m writing for casual drinkers and novice beer snobs more than I am other beer bloggers. Anything I can to encourage the growth of craft breweries here in NC is an added bonus.

5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?

It’s only been a few months, and until recently I’ve kept it under the radar while I built up some content. Still, I’ve already had one brewer contact me about sampling a new product once it’s ready.

6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?

I don’t know if I have any favorites, however… Beeradvocate.com is a great resource; The Beer Snob was influential in how I developed mine; and I recently discovered Hoptopia.com.


Beer Talk

1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?

Stouts, porters and scotch ales

2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?

I really like two locals…Big Boss and Duck-Rabbit. Lately, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Dogfish Head. They put out some awesome brews.

3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?

Rogue. I’m in marketing, and would have a blast advertising some of their varieties.

4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?

I’m not, but I haven’t ruled it out.

5. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

I love a good stout with a ribeye steak. I’m eager to pair Dogfish Head’s Raison D’Etre with roasted duck.


The Personal Side

1. What is your current day job?

I work for a credit union, managing marketing and public relations.

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’d probably run for office. I’ve always been a political junkie.

3. Are you married? Children?

Married. My wife is awesome… she makes me laugh myself silly and she doesn’t drink my beer. No kids.

4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?

I mentioned curling already, right? I discovered a local curling club right after the last winter Olympics. It’s quite a conversation starter – most people say they’ve never met someone who curls, then they’re surprised to find that we have such a large club in NC.


Off The Beaten Path

1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?

Definitely a stout. I’m pretty stubborn, and I’m sure I taste like coffee.

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?

Hmmm… surprise me with something new. No sense wasting my last ever drink on something I’ve had before. If there’s time for one last new beer, let’s do it.

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?

I’m torn… with a name like ‘beer wench”, I want to say oktoberfest, but deep down I really think it would be a barleywine.

4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

I’d like the ability to freeze time. Either that, or never have to go to the bathroom.

5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?

That’s a tough one. In retrospect, I don’t think much is crazy.

6. What are your thoughts on bacon?

Crispy. It has to be crispy.



About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of DrinkWithTheWench.com & BeerMixology.com as well as a regular contributor to CraftBeer.com.

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