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!
AUTHOR OF: MY THOUSAND BEER YEAR
Beer Blogger Interview
1.Where did you grow up?
Sunny (and boring) Mesa, Arizona. Home of citrus, Mormons, and no beer or bars to speak of!
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
Like most beer guzzling doods, I did speech and debate throughout high school and college. Although I used to play baseball in elementary school and I maintain to this day that I could bat .200 in the majors.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
I remember my first sips of beer taking place when I was around 6 or 7 at a pizza place with my parents. My dad (or mom?) let me taste his (or her) beer. I remember thinking it was awful. Even at six years old I hated macro-beers.
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 think my first full beer was when I was a freshman in college. It was a Busch Light poured from a keg into a red plastic cup. It’s been all uphill since then.
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 undergrad in Pennsylvania, grad school in Virginia, and law school in New York. The main constant between the three has been craft beer drinking. I got my grad degree in philosophy and in undergrad I had the distinct privilege to compile the index for the book Beer and Philosophy. In terms of activities, in undergrad I played guitar and sang in a folk-rock Ace of Base tribute band.
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 epiphany took place in the Queen Elizabeth hotel in Montreal in 2003. I was there for, of all things, a speech and debate tournament. Before I left, a professor recommended that I try a La Fin du Monde. Well, on the way back to the hotel one evening, I stopped to pick up a four pack at a grocery store (my first craft beer purchase). I took it back to the hotel and drank it out of the bottle. It blew my mind. I had no idea beer could taste interesting. Every sip was a different flavor (on account of me drinking straight from the bottle). I never knew that beer could taste like anything but piss-water. Up until that point I only regarded drinking beer as a means for getting drunk. That’s when I started considering beer drinking an end in itself. I am not being hyperbolic (ok maybe I am) when I say that that night changed my life forever.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
One that comes to mind is drinking a Westvleteren 12 that I had aged for a year after getting back from Belgium with my wife and my best friend (two separate people, for those keeping track) right after graduating from grad school. It wasn’t an epiphany, per se, but the perhaps the most perfect combination of beer, people, and circumstance. Also, perhaps my most profound drinking experience was drinking a beer brewed in Southern Sudan, White Bull Lager. I think if I start typing out my experience drinking that again, I’ll start weeping uncontrollably so I’ll just link to my post about it here.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
Since the end of January 2010 when I realized that I could actually do the 1000 beers in a year.
What inspired you to start writing your blog? A joke to my inlaws that my New Years resolution was to drink 1000 beers in 2010. Also, I had a million blogs that started and stopped due to lack of direction. Finally having a concrete topic really helped me stick to this thing.
2. Why did you chose the name of your blog?
Because 1) it rhymed, and B) I’m not that clever.
3. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
Honestly, my sole personal goal for the blog (outside of the number of beers) is to keep writing for fun. All I’ve known for the past 8 or so years is writing in an academic/professional setting. It’s nice to have an outlet to write about things I actually enjoy. I’m unsure what I’m going to do when this year ends and I hit my 1000 beers. Ultimately I’d like to keep writing about beer/drinking but I’m not sure in what form that will be.
4. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Uh, one time Bethlehem Brew Works gave me a shout out on their facebook site? The whole trying to remain anonymous sort kills any perks I’d get from blogging. Actually this is kind of cool, after seeing how much burn my parents got on my blog during my trip to Arizona, my inlaws took me to the Lancaster Brewery just to get a mention on the blog. That was pretty cool.
5. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
I mean I could go with obvious and say beeradvocate.com for its wealth of information, but honestly my favorite websites for beer information are local message boards talking about new bars. Any blog that focuses on beer drinking as a culture or event as opposed to a heavy concentration on things such as the mythical flavor wheel is good by me. And I know this has been mentioned a million times, but Twitter is where all the beer action happens.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
I would say this is like choosing your three favorite children, but I think once I have a million kids and someone asks me to pick my three favorite, I’ll say it’s like trying to choose my three favorite beer styles. That would be a more appropriate analogy for me. With that said, probably Double Anything, Imperial Whateverelse, and Belgian Whathaveyous
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
This isn’t fair. If I had to pick, which clearly I do, I’d say Ommegang, Unibroue, and Brooklyn Brewery.
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
Six Point. It’s in Brooklyn. They have a roof top brewery. They repurpose everything. AND they brewed a beer exclusively for the Museum of Modern Arts using hot stones! That’s pretty crazy!
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
No. I know my talents and making beer wouldn’t be one of them. I’ll stick to the drinking end.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
No. I wanted to try to become an official beer judge, but all the science you have to know scared me off. While I like to think about my beer, I don’t like to over-think my beer.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
21st Amendment Monk’s Blood and anything chocolate but that seems too obvious. Or I guess Ommegang’s Three Philosopher’s and a Filberto’s bean and cheese burrito, because those are, respectively, my favorite beer and food item, and why wouldn’t you pair a cherry belgian triple with a bean burrito? Probably because it would be disgusting.
But here’s where I’d like to go on a mini-rant. New York is an awesome place to live if you love gourmet craft beer and food pairing events…if you eat me. What’s a vegetarian craft beer lover to do? Garrett Oliver, a legend among mortals, often hosts a series of dinners where he hooks up with a fancy-pants chef and does a beer and food event. I can’t go to any of these! If there are any big name brewers or big name chefs out there, hook a vegetarian up!
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
Law student/law job seeker (hence my quest for anonymity)
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?
A power forward in the NBA, because that would mean I could dunk and that would be awesome.
3. Are you married? Children?
One wife. Zero children (that I know of). Also, I hate to cop Fuggly Brew’s answer here, but on our honeymoon (which was also last summer), we also toured San Francisco’s microbreweries.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Like most a-holes, I play the guitar. That, obsessively following the Phoenix Suns, and listening to punk rock have taken up most of my non-drinking/writing/law school/working time these past couple of months.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
Here’s a string of puns my wife made to me when I asked her this question: Ale because I like to be on top. Lager because I like to be on bottom. Barley wine because I’m strong and alcoholic. Oatmeal stout because I’m what’s for breakfast. A beer that’s high in gravity because I’m taxing to be around. Flemish ale because I’m not really Flem, I’m only Flemish. Feel free to cut out any or all of those.
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 Westvleteren 12, obtained according to the brewery’s strict standards because it would both be delicious and take the executioner a really long time to get, which would give me more time alive, which would be pretty great.
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 think chili pepper ales are a vastly under-brewed style. Can you name more than two that are worth drinking? I’d make a solid ale brewed with chili peppers, I’m thinking like Rogue’s Chipotle Ale but maybe brewed with habeneros. Heat-spice and beer can be an amazing combination when done correctly, and I have to imagine that a Beer Wench Ale would be spicy.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I’ve been spit-balling these answers off my wife here and I suggested x-ray vision, to which she responded, “Have fun looking at all of those skeletons.” So I’m going to go with a practical superpower that has zero chance of backfiring on me: the ability to grow my hair to any length at will. I’ve never had a haircut I’ve been satisfied with, and it would be nice to be able to rectify that situation immediately.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
I walked through Crown Heights, Brooklyn (home of the last American race riot!) in a full Dumbledore costume on my to a midnight release of the 7th Harry Potter novel. If you’ve been to the neighborhood, you’d understand that walking around at night in a full wizard costume is no laughing matter.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
I think it’s delicious but as a vegetarian, I tend to avoid it.
SPECIAL THANKS TO RYAN FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!