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: GREG KRSAK + MATT SNYDER
AUTHORS OF: KSW BEER
Beer Blogger Interview
Full name: Greg Krsak / Matt Snyder
Internet nickname: Our Xbox Live gamertags are “Platypus Friend” (Greg) and “Snydiggity” (Matt)
Name of blog: kswbeer.com
Matt: Portland, OR
Greg: Lake Oswego, OR
1. Where did you grow up?
Matt: Eugene, OR.
Greg: I grew up in three different stages, I think. I was raised in the Mercer Island, WA area, with just enough of both parents to get a solid handle on life ethics. Eventually, I joined the Navy and grew up a little bit more, in a few different areas. I’ve finally settled in the Portland, OR area and think that truly “growing up” is always just out of reach. Growing up is understanding that there will always be people wiser than yourself, at any point in your life.
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
Matt: High school & College Swimming; Ultimate Frisbee. Living in Portland I’ve played in the Kick Ball league a few times.
Greg: I’m a high school dropout, and have my GED. Growing up, my “sport” was basically sitting around and taking recess in the library, reading books on computer programming and getting excited when I had the chance to get on one of the school computers. For a few years in middle school, I was the nerdy JV wrestler who didn’t understand the proper athletic mindset and wasn’t very good.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
Greg: I actually waited until I was 21 to start drinking; although, my Dad did let me taste a few “Beer” beers and a sip or two of Rainier.
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
Matt: At a frat party, as a guest, and there was free Keystone light. I didn’t even like it back then, but drank some to be social.
Greg: It was a quest for the beer that tasted the least like beer. I turned 21 while I was stationed at the submarine base in Kings Bay, GA and fortunately, was not out to sea on the day of my birthday. I ran over to the mini mart they had there and found a six pack of Bud Light Ice, which I assumed did not have much flavor; I started drinking that with chips and salsa, in my barracks room. Those were some good memories.
5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?
Matt: Linfield College in McMinnville, OR. And I stumbled into becoming an Accounting Major. As far as activities went I was on the Men’s Swimming Team and was in the Ultimate Frisbee Club. My college roommate also ran the student activity center so there were a lot of trips to go skiing, rock climbing, swing dancing, etc. To pick up a little cash I had a few jobs in college, but mostly lifeguarded at the pool.
Greg: I actually never went to college. I worked with ballistic missiles, on Trident submarines. It all sounds cool, until the realization sets in that you’re going to be staring at a launch console all day that you can’t really touch; there was no reading, or doing anything fun for six hours out of an eighteen hour watch rotation. There were interesting parts, though; I got to do a lot of targeting and some computer work, and a little bit of missile maintenance (Seeing a nuclear bomb for the first time was pretty cool). For me, the Navy was my college. It was my opportunity to leave home and explore the world, but still have my supportive family in close contact every once in a while. I think, compared to college, the Navy probably has advantages and disadvantages in preparing you for “real life”, but it all averages-out in the end. If you’re passionate enough and certain enough about your career choice and you have the right social skills, you may discover that the military is an equivalent option.
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:
Matt: I had been brewing with a friend for a few years then he moved to Denver and took all of our mutually purchased brewing equipment. (The jerk, and I don’t even think he’s brewed since). At the same time Greg said he wanted to start brewing. Our first batch (an Old Ale) turned out pretty good, and Greg entered it into the State Fair, (when it was still legal in Oregon), and we won second place in our category! I had been brewing for a few years but it was the first independent acknowledgement that our homebrew wasn’t that bad. It was a great feeling.
Greg: Alaskan Amber, at the bowling alley, on base. I remember how dark I though it was, and that it was a relatively bold step up in my beer experiences. A couple of years later, my submarine got transferred to the west coast and I had the chance to visit my first brewpub, which was this little place called “Silver City Brewery” in Silverdale, WA. At the time, they had a beer called Fat Bastard which I though was pretty intense, and therefore good; although, I can’t remember what it tasted like anymore. After I finished my final patrol, left the Navy and moved to Portland, I went to Rock Bottom’s brewpub and slipped few more notches toward beer geekiness. I still didn’t understand what any of their beer styles were, or what the difference between a lager and an ale was, but I kept coming back and it was really the gateway for me into the craft beer scene.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
Greg: I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them, but the Northwest has this company called McMenamins that opens up large and small pubs and brewpubs in different, unique buildings and locations. They have a lot of creepy paintings and artwork everywhere and I always thought that was a little weird, but they are very popular and their beers have had a notable influence on me. McMenamins Ruby Ale is one of the most under-appreciated beers that I’ve ever tasted, and is always near the top of my short list of favorite beers.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
Matt: 9 or 10 months.
Greg: Yeah, it’s been pretty fun. What do you folks out there think?
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
Matt: Greg bought the URL address and started typing.
Greg: Well, It was all about the mediocre answers to all the questions I’ve had over the years. You can literally find the same, cut and pasted answer on multiple sites for the same stupid question. All I want to know is a “real person” answer to what Centennial hops are bringing to the flavor table… and why can’t anyone give me an answer that isn’t “It’s a supercharged version of Cascade”? With a lack of formal schooling, you have a heavy reliance on self-education in your life, but the Internet has been seriously letting me down for the first time, at least when it comes to really learning some of the details about beer. Frustration and disappointment are powerful motivators, and I’d like to think that I’m putting that to good use by putting some good info out there.
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
Matt: I had a marketing class while getting my MBA and I needed a name for our brewery. We thought of Krsaksnyderweizen one afternoon then shortened it to KSW and it just stuck.
Greg: It was a play on both of our last names: “Krsaksnyderweizen”, pronounced properly with a thick, German accent and lots of exclamation marks (Ker-sak-schneider-visen!!). We thought it was a funny, beer-sounding name.
Matt: We may have been drinking at the time.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
Matt: Teach a little, entertain a little. I think people get more out of the micro brew experience with a little knowledge.
Greg: For sure. I’m on Google Analytics every day, and I always am humbled by a +1 to the site visit count.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Matt: There has only been ridicule and scorn to date.
Greg: Being interviewed by you is actually the coolest thing that’s ever happened to us!
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
Matt: That’s like asking “What’s your favorite movie genre?”; it depends on what I’m in the mood for. But I’m always in the mood for an English IPA, American Pale Ale or a Dunkelweizen.
Greg: Imperial IPA (Stone Ruination), Saison (Boulevard Saison Brett), and Standard American Lager (Pabst Blue Ribbon).
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Matt: I haven’t been on too many brewery tours but: Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, OR; Rogue Ales, Newport, OR; New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO… All have a great feel to them.
Greg: Deschutes, Stone, and Vertigo. Goose Island, Dogfish Head, Caldera and Harviestoun get an Honorable Mention.
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
Matt: I really like the green/sustainability initiative and story that New Belgium has, but I would have to pick Rogue for “corporate culture” plus I like their beers a little better and they’re more local. In one of Rogues job postings it said, “we don’t have an HR department and we don’t accept bull sh** from our employees” (only slightly paraphrasing).
Greg: It would probably be Vertigo. I’ve met both Mikes on a couple occasions, and they’re stand-up guys. I really wish both of them the best, and I admire their story and their dedication to brewing. They haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be normal beer drinkers and good friends, even if they don’t know you very well. They brew consistent beer with humble equipment, and it’s becoming pretty popular. Keep an eye out for the name.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
Matt: Of course.
Greg: I don’t usually mention that to people who I don’t already know are interested in homebrewing. Some of the more objective aspects to brewing I prefer to keep separate from my drinking life.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
Greg: We’ll get back to you on that in two or three years, when the BJCP actually has room in a Portland or Seattle testing location. Matt and I have gotten some pretty lame scores from BJCP-certified judges on beers that we and our friends really liked a lot. So we think beer should truly be drank and judged by everyday consumers, and sometimes (but not always) focusing on the certification process gets in the way of being an everyday consumer. We think we understand beer well-enough to make it and review it the right way, and we try to minimize excessive formality.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
Greg: Lots of beers go with lots of foods. For me, I usually think: “What do I remember not going well with this, last time?” …One example of that is IPA and bleu cheese, in my opinion. It’s just that the reality of beer and food is so situational for me, and I think for a lot of people if they really thought about it. If you asked me “What’s your favorite event, friend, beer, glassware, room, smell and bank account balance?” then I may be able to give you a spot-on answer. To be considerate and answer your question, though, I do really like Foster’s Lager and Top Sirloin. But the reason for that is mainly due to happy memories associated with the experiences I’ve had at Outback Steakhouse.
Matt: I don’t pair food and beer. There is only beer.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
Matt: I’m in the dangerous and sexy field of accounting.
Greg: I’m doing contract work for Intel right now. I work in their LAN Access Division, and do a lot of playing around with network cards and prerelease server hardware. I really enjoy my job, but a more detailed description would probably flunk me from this interview.
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?
Matt: Professional kite boarding instructor. It’s something I’ve wanted to try and it looks like a lot of fun.
Greg: I’d marry my girlfriend, have kids and be a stay-at-home, full-time Dad.
3. Are you married? Children?
Matt: No and no – I’ve been told that I will live in righteous loneliness the rest of my life.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Matt: I still play a little Ultimate Frisbee, I try to run every now and then. The latest thing I’m (we’re) trying is building a homemade keg-o-rator. I’m also optimistic about getting my golf game into the double digits.
Greg: I write computer programs, tinker with electronics and microcontrollers, and generally learn new things. In the winter, I’m pretty into snowboarding; I ride Mt. Hood as often as I can.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would you be and why?
Matt: Dry Stout (like a Guinness Extra Stout): Dry humor and a bittersweet finish sounds like me.
Greg: My girlfriend likes Fruit Lambics, so…
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?
Greg: I’d brew a Willamette-Citra Double IPA, then I’d leave it for the executioners to finish, and that would be my final revenge. It might even kill him.
Matt: I would ask for a PBR <wink>. Then the executioner, who is actually our 3rd brewing buddy, MacGyver, would have made a flash-bang grenade out of the can. Using the grenade as a distraction to get out of the execution room we would all escape when our friends from the ‘A-Team’ land their riding lawnmower-turned-helicopter on the roof where there’s a lot of shooting but no one gets hurt. We would escape and survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a brewing question, if no one else can help, and if you can find us, maybe you can hire Matt & Greg <gunshot sounds and awesome music play>.
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?
Greg: Oh, have you ever had Willamette and Citra in a Double IPA?
Matt: I agree with Greg, it’s very Wench-like.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Matt: I guess the power to have all powers would be cheating, so I would pick telekinesis because it would cover the most ground. I would be able to fly, shoot “mind bullets”; and homebrewing would go a lot faster if I could instantly make water boil. Plus, if Greg and I ever got into a disagreement over what to post on the blog, I could tear him apart atom by atom.
Greg: Everyone’s trust.
Matt: Ohhh, good one, very neo-political.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
Matt: The statute of limitations hasn’t expired on the first so it’s not a good idea to publish in an interview, so the second most crazy thing would be…
Greg: Driving 135 mph on Interstate 90, and then pulling out my cell phone to take a picture of the speedometer.
4. What are your thoughts on bacon?
Matt: As an actor Kevin Bacon’s talent was not sufficiently recognized by the Academy for his work in Tremors.
Greg: There it is.
SPECIAL THANKS TO MATT AND GREG FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!