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: JOSH CHRISTIE
AUTHOR OF: BREWS + BOOKS
Beer Blogger Interview
Full name: Josh Christie
Twitter handle: @jchristie
Name of blog: Brews + Books
Current location: Portland, ME
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Washington, ME, a classic small New England town with about 1,300 residents.
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
I was never really the team sports guy growing up, although I did my fair share of running and hiking. After some ill-advised peewee basketball as a kid, I stuck to skiing, golf, and track and field in high school. In college and the time since, I’ve stuck pretty much to skiing, golf and hiking.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
I actually don’t remember having a beer until I was almost 20. My parents weren’t beer drinkers, and I was part of a relatively geeky crowd in high school so beer never showed up.
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
On a trip to Germany just before I turned 20, I felt like I had to finally try beer – it seemed like a must-do going to a country forever linked with brews. I had my first beer on the flight from Boston to Berlin. It was a Heineken, and it was pretty terrible.
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’m an alumni of the University of Maine in Farmington. I studied for a degree in political science, although I originally went to the school to enter the ski industries certificate program. On top of skiing about 80 days a season when I was in school, I was a DJ for the local radio station, communications director for the College Democrats and Political Science Club, and a member of the campus film club.
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:
Although I’d probably get some flak in the beer geek community for saying it, my epiphany beer wasn’t one of the “white whales” out there; the rare, expensive superbeers that people seek out, wait in line for or buy on eBay. It wasn’t even a particularly well-reviewed beer. Instead, my epiphany is based on totally sentimental reasons – Alaskan Brewing’s Alaskan Amber.
When I was finishing up my degree, I spent half of my senior year living out in Juneau, AK. I was traveling alone, I had just turned 21, and I’d be living further from my family than I ever had before. After a long flight from New England to Seattle, I bought a pint of the Amber in Seattle while waiting for my connection to Juneau. It is a simple, crisp and slightly nutty amber ale, and the taste and experience have made it my favorite ever since. It was one of the first craft beers I picked out on my own, had on my own, and completely loved. Not only that, but it was totally different from most of the local brews back in the Northeast.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
I can’t really think of any epiphanies since that one. It’s been more of a continuing evolution of the flavors, looks and smells of beers I can pick out and enjoy. The only real exception is the recent taste I’ve gained for sours. For a lot of my time drinking beer, the taste of a sour was simply too bracing and different for me. For some reason (it might have been a Saint Somewhere or a Jolly Pumpkin brew), everything clicked recently and I’ve been searching for sours since.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
I’m not totally sure, but I registered my blog’s domain in February. I’d say that conservatively I’ve been writing Brews and Books for a bit less than a year.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
A couple things. Mainly, I just wanted a creative outlet to talk about beer and books. I’d been using Twitter and commenting on other folks’ blogs for a few months before I started my blog, and wanted a place to write in one place without a limit on the number of characters I could use. Otherwise, I wanted to improve my ability to talk about beer and books in a critical and intelligent way. I hadn’t done any real writing since college, and it seemed like a good way to learn and improve rather than let those writing muscles atrophy.
3. Why did you chose the name of your blog?
I wanted to communicate that I’d be writing about both beer and books, and BooksAndBrews.com was taken.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
Personally, I’d like to become a better writer. I’d like to be able to talk about beer and books more critically and intelligently. While college prepared me to write in a technical sense, I think that the blog will personally help me develop a much stronger voice – something I still fear my writing lacks.
Professionally, I’d like to be in the beer industry in a very peripheral sense. I don’t want to necessarily work at a brewery, but being involved in events and considered an expert – or at least a lay-expert – is a very real goal for me. And while I can’t think of a full time job in the beer world that would be a fit for me, a little income from my writing about beer would be fantastic.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Free beer. Free books. Meeting people. Actually having honest-to-goodness fans is pretty damn awesome too.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
If I can count it as one blog, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the Hop Press. The diversity of voices, topics and perspectives has made for fascinating reading every day of the week.
I also love Luke Livingston’s Blog About Beer – one of the sites that got me started blogging. Luke is a beer expert here in Maine, and stumbling onto his site and starting a dialogue started a fire under me to get writing.
Beer and Nosh is another must visit – simply unbelievable beer photography. If I ever need to decorate a pub, the pictures will all be from Jesse’s site.
Oh, and Drink With the Wench of course.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
There’s not any specific brewery I’d like to work for – while there are definitely personalities in the beer world I admire, it doesn’t necessarily mean I want to work beside them and see how the sausage is made, per se. I’d want to be at a brewery that combines unique beers, creative marketing, a great back-and-forth with customers and an abundance of personality – your Surlys, your BrewDogs, your Dogfish Heads and Flying Dogs.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
I am. The most unique beer I’ve brewed that’s ended up drinkable was a chocolate rye – a spicy rye beer with a ton of chocolate malt in the brew. The one I have in the fermenter right now is a white chocolate pale ale, which will take the cake if it ends up being drinkable.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
None, although I’m hoping to get a Cicerone certification soon.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
One of my favorite pairings is a good, sharp cheddar with the Smuttynose Really Old Brown Dog old ale. As my friend Travis described the pairing; “And with cheddar – pure sex. Hot sex in my mouthface.”
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I am a full-time bookseller at a local independent bookstore, project coordinator for a local nonprofit, and a writer for the RateBeer.com Hop Press.
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 stick with my current jobs, just with some raises. I absolutely love what I do, which is kind of an awesome place to be. I suppose I’d take a promotion in the world of bookstores, since managing or full-time publicity stuff would be great.
3. Are you married? Children?
No and no.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Reading, skiing, golf, hiking, and photography are the big ones. I’m also a big old school geek, so anything involving computers, comics, gadgets or video games is right up my alley.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
I’d be a milk stout. Because I’m so sweet, don’tchaknow.
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?
Depends. If it’s an old-school execution (something with guns, knives or a guillotine) I’d want Tactical Nuclear Penguin or Utopias, since they’d be strong enough to dull my senses before the painful death. If it was something like a lethal injection… well, fuck, I’m still getting killed. I’d stick with the strong stuff.
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?
Wenchenbrau? Hmmmmmm… Bacon-infused bourbon barrel brown ale. It’d be totally original, in-your-face, alcoholic, and fun to talk about. Probably north of 9% ABV.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I’d love some Quicksilver / Flash super-speed, since I could get everywhere super-fast and not need a car. Something like Atom Eve (from Invincible)’s matter manipulation would be cool, since I could turn anything into beer. Oh, and an energy ring like Green Lantern’s – though not technically a superpower – would round things out nicely.
Can you tell I’m a comic geek?
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
I’ve skied at various Maine ski areas in various states of undress. I won’t elaborate further.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
SO. GOOD. Everything is better with bacon. Everything.
SPECIAL THANKS TO JOSH FOR HIS AWESOME INTERVIEW!