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!
INTRODCUING: JACOB MCKEAN
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
2. How old were you when you had your first beer?
3. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
I split a 12-pack of fizzy yellow beer with the valet parking attendant at my classmate’s bat mitzvah.
4. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?
Columbia University. I studied history and anthropology. I was an anti-globalization activist, rakish troublemaker, and young bon vivant. New York is a great town in which to ply those trades.
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 drank plenty of Brooklyn lager in college, my epiphany came shortly after I graduated. In the process of courting the lovely girl I now live with, I made regular visits to Chicago. She lived in Andersonville, near The Hopleaf, a Belgian-focused beer bar of legendary repute. A tulip glass of Tripel Karmeliat blew the doors off my life. I fell in love with the beer and the girl at The Hopleaf.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
That fortuitous glass of Tripel Karmeliat turned me on to Belgian beer, but it was an AleSmith IPA that turned me on to American craft beer. Another AleSmith beer showed me just how epic beer can be: Kopi Luwak Speedway Stout, a beer made with weasel shit that tastes like rainbows. That removed any doubt that beer is, in fact, the most dynamic and delicious beverage on Earth.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
At Stone, 8 months. At beerchooser.com, intermittently for a couple of years, I think.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
Well, writing for Stone is my job, so fear of starvation is the prime motivation there. BeerChooser.com is a personal project designed to help people explore craft beer, especially those bewildered by the array of options and worried about wasting money on six packs they won’t like, so that’s a labor of love.
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
You’ll have to ask the creative genius who came up with “The Stone Blog.” As for “The BeerChooser Blog”, well, that’s my groundbreaking originality.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
People love Stone. They really, really love it. So I want to give them a look behind the curtain. As a beer geek, that’s what I want to see. For BeerChooser, it’s mostly site updates, press coverage, etc…I hope BeerChooser helps people explore craft beer with more confidence, as if they have a knowledgeable friend who consistently recommends beers they love. Except that the friend is a computer/phone instead of a human being.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
I get a paycheck from a legendary craft brewery for which I have oodles and oodles of respect. That is the coolest. Plus, I get to go to some events for my job that I would gladly pay to attend. OK, so the whole thing in general is pretty cool. But don’t think I don’t work my ass off; I do. In fact, I have very little ass remaining at this point.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
BeerAdvocate, RateBeer, BeerNews. That’s where the tribe congregates.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, American Wild Ale. Groundbreaking, I know.
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Stone, Russian River, AleSmith. Cigar City should be in there as well; they’re pushing American Strong Ales—the style pioneered by Arrogant Bastard Ale—in new and devastatingly delicious directions.
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
I wish I were chopping wood at Brasserie Caracole in Belgium for their wood-fired kettles. That sounds far better than taking pictures at obscenely decadent beer and food events.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
Yes, I am. I recently brewed an American Pale Ale that creates wormholes in the space/time continuum every time you crack one open.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
I have a purple belt in Taekwondo. It helps me hold my own on judging panels.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
Dark Lord paired with fillet of unicorn.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
Social Media Coordinator at Stone Brewing Co. I attend to my adoring fans on Facebook. In the 8 months I’ve worked at Stone, we’ve gone from 18,000 to 52,000 “Likes” on our Facebook page. My personal goal is to surpass a certain (insipid, deceptive, bullshit) lunar-themed brand with around 58,000 fans. If I do that, Greg has promised me a Fabergé egg filled with leprechaun tears from his personal collection. I’ve also been doing a lot of work on the European brewery project.
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 be an Afghan opium lord. I wrote a short story about the subject in 5th grade, and it’s been a dream ever since.
3. Are you married? Children?
Nope. Yup. Kidding.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
I rip phone books in half for stress relief.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
I would be a maple-wood smoked rye imperial brown ale fermented & lagered with a mix of Belgian, German, and American yeasts and aged in a toasted American oak barrel.
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?
Russian River Temptation. I forget the batch, but my first bottle of that beer had more white wine character than the subsequent bottles I’ve had. The smell and taste of that first bottle were so good they nearly melted my face off.
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?
Sorry, but I don’t believe in contract brewing. I think it undermines the authenticity of craft beer and misleads consumers about beers’ origins. If your name is on a beer, you should be making it yourself, on your own equipment.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
The ability to conjure up a plate of vegan tamales and a live mariachi band at a moment’s notice.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
I went to a baile funky (literally, “funk dance”) in a Rio slum. There were a thousand people dancing inside a crater in the middle of the favela. Teenage drug dealers were walking around, hitting on girls and firing their machine guns in the air. They had crews of younger kids with handguns stuffed into their swim trunks who were drinking cocktails, smoking joints, and sniffing glue. There was an enormous wall of speakers blasting music so loud it made your brain vibrate. The dancing was frenetic, endless, and—to put it mildly—suggestive. Compared to that spectacle, the parties you see in hip hop videos look like ice cream socials hosted by the Yale a cappella club.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
I’m a vegan. I could fuel my Hummer with a pureé of rainforest trees and endangered coral reefs, and it wouldn’t equal the environmental impact of eating animal products.
SPECIAL THANKS TO JACOB FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!