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: PETE DUNLOP
AUTHOR OF: BEERVANA BUZZ
Beer Blogger Interview
Full name: Pete Dunlop
Twitter handle: beervanabuzz
Name of blog: beervanabuzz
Current location: Portland, OR
1. Where did you grow up?
Clarkston, Washington. It’s a small town on the Snake River in the southeastern corner of Washington state.
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
Growing up, I enjoyed water skiing, snow skiing. I played high school football, which was maybe not the smartest thing in retrospect. I wasn’t very big. Luckily, most of our opponents weren’t either. After high school, I focused heavily on tennis and got pretty good. I started playing racquetball while I was in grad school and still play today. I also enjoy golf, cycling and skiing.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
Oh, definitely not very old. My dad didn’t have a strict policy about kids and beer. I was probably 5 or younger when I tasted my first beer.
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
It was some kind of macro brew…probably Pabst or another Midwestern beer. My parents came from the Chicago area. I was in the backyard in Pleasant Hill, Calif. It was a hot summer day. I’m sure my dad was having a beer and I got part of a glass. I remember thinking, “Hey, this isn’t too bad.”
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 attended Washington State University in Pullman, which is about 30 miles from Clarkson. My undergrad program was mostly unfocused. I took a lot English and history, and earned a BA in Liberal Arts. I worked in record stores during school and for a few years after I graduated. I decided there wasn’t much of a future in it, so quit and I entered graduate school. I eventually earned a Masters in history. I didn’t realize there wasn’t much of a future in that, either. Probably the best experience I ever got was working on the student paper, The Daily Evergreen, for several years. For two years, I wrote and edited opinion stuff and later edited sports. That was great experience.
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 knew about craft beer before I moved to Portland in 1989, having been introduced by a farmer friend in Pullman. I wasn’t instantly converted. I drank a lot of Henry’s Blue Boar while in grad school. After I got to Portland, my tastes gradually evolved. Craft beer was everywhere in Portland and you couldn’t miss it. One of my favorite places back then was Bridgeport Brewing. This was back in the days when what we now call the Pearl District was comprised of industrial warehouses. The streets were virtually impassable for much of the year, with gigantic potholes big enough to swallow a Volkswagen. Bridgeport was a rustic, quaint place that served good craft beer and wonderful pizza. I loved going there and we went there often.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
The most significant epiphany occurred in July 1991, when a friend invited me to the Oregon Brewers Festival. That was an eye opener. They were serving all these terrific beers in the park. You could get a beer and enjoy the sights, whether it was the young ladies or the Willamette River. I missed the 1992 OBF because I was out of town. But I haven’t missed one since. To me, the OBF is the quintessential beer event of the year in Portland…probably in the Northwest, maybe on the West Coast. I can say with complete confidence that the OBF changed my view of craft beer.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
I started writing the blog over the summer, June or July. It’s not very old.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I’ve been doing a bit of freelance writing, which included stories about Portland beer events and breweries. I noticed that these stories got a lot of hits. I decided to write a book about the craft beer culture here. Once I made that decision, the blog was a logical step. The book, Beervana Rising, was published as an eBook in September. The book and the blog complement each other.
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
I wanted Beervana in the title from the start. I messed around with some possible modifiers and eventually landed on Beervana Buzz. I’m not sure it works, but it’s okay.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
It’s a good place to showcase my writing. I’ve got a website with work samples and I write another blog dealing with football. But the beer blog is top dog. It’s fun and, like I said, it goes with the book. It gets me noticed. Maybe it will help me get a job in the beer industry at some point. Maybe it just furthers my writing.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Meeting other people who care about good beer has been the coolest thing. The Bloggers Conference was an eye-opener. We get a little beer-centric here in Portland because we have so much going. It was so refreshing to meet people from all over the place who are just as passionate about beer as people here. That was a big WOW for me.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
- Beervana (Jeff Alworth) is probably my go-to site. I read Jeff’s stuff long ago when he wrote for the Willamette Week. He covers are wide range of beer topics.
- Beeradvocate: Most complete beer site around. Ratings, reviews, etc.
- Brewpublic Maybe the most complete blog around.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
- IPA: Firestone Walker, Pliny the Elder, Hop Stoopid, Laurelwood Workhorse, Boneyard RPM, many more
- Red or Amber Ale: Red Nectar, Red Rocket Ale,
- Barleywine: Hair of the Dog Doggie Claws, Full Sail Old Boardhead
- Barrel-aged blends: Hair of the Dog and Cascade Brewing Barrel House make a lot of these
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
- Hair of the Dog (exquisite beers, classy tasting room and restaurant)
- Russian River (I’m visiting Thanksgiving weekend!)
- Deschutes (always thinking about quality)
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
I’d want to work for a brewery that cares about quality and uniqueness. Hair of the Dog is at the top of my list because Alan Sprints, to my way of thinking, is the Steve Jobs of craft beer in Portland. He started by brewing old world ales and eventually got into barrel-aging. Others are following now, but Alan has been doing this seemingly forever. I have a ton of respect for this guy and what he does. There are a lot of great breweries producing great beers in Portland and elsewhere. What he does is unique.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
I brewed consistently for 15 years, then quit several years ago due to issues with bad batches. I sold all my stuff. I just recently started again…brewed a red ale at one of our local on-premise brewing supply places. I’ve got a notebook full of recipes. Lots of tweaked IPAs, as well as reds and others. I once made a dopplebock that was pretty good, though it took forever to finish fermentation. The most interesting may have been a red lager fermented in the garage during the winter back in 1998. The weather cooperated exactly once. I tried to make this beer again, unsuccessfully…too much temperature variation.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
What’s that? Maybe someday.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
I like a crisp IPA with fish and chips or fish tacos. Yummy.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I’ve worked in marketing communications for many years, but I’m currently in between day jobs doing freelance writing.
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?
No question, I would be working in craft beer marketing. That could mean working for a single brewery or doing the kind of thing Chris Crabb does…providing media support to multiple breweries and beer events. Why? I would never get tired of that work.
3. Are you married? Children?
Married, yes. Children: Labradors Blitz (black) and Biscuit (yellow). Yeah, that’s Blitz on my Facebook profile.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
I enjoy all kinds of music, playing around with techie gadgets, fast cars, NFL football, Washington State football (sad, I know), golf, trips to Kauai, cycling.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be and why?
Probably a Double IPA. Why? The good ones have lots of body, complex character and are fairly bitter. That’s a good representation of me right there.
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?
Something with a lot of alcohol…Doggie Claws, Pliny the Elder. Why? To help forget about being executed!
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?
Some kind of big red ale, for sure. Lots of different hops…Simcoe, Citra, Amarillo. Dry-hopped, definitely. For extra pizzazz, I might use some cinnamon and peppers in the boil. At the end fermentation, I’d add some lemon zest to give the beer the appropriate tartness. This recipe might need some tweaking.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I like to have the ability to transport myself from place to place without assistance from a car or plane or train. I could visit a lot of breweries then.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
Having grown up in a rural setting, I have a zillion crazy stories. I have no idea how I lived through some of the crap I/we did. In high school, we would have keggers out boonies. This was a long time ago and the beer was usually Lucky Lager or Heidelberg…Coors or Bud would have been considered delicacies. A lot of times these parties were in the winter, so it was damn cold out there. To stay warm, we would pull up fence posts and start a bonfire. That would eventually attract the attention of the rancher who owned the burning posts. I have no idea how none of us were ever shot over this. I suppose someone probably used beer to talk the rancher down. Sometimes the cops showed up. Not good.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
I’m actually not a huge fan…although it has grown on me lately.