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: ANGELO M. DE IESO II
AUTHOR OF: BREWPUBLIC
Beer Blogger Interview
Full name: Angelo M. De Ieso II
Twitter handle: @BREWPUBLIC
Name of blog: Brewpublic
Current location: Portland, Oregon, Cascadia, Beervana
1. Where did you grow up?
Central Maine, in and around Dover-Foxcroft
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
Played a bit of intramural basketball for our radio station, but that’s about it. Was mostly a bench warmer in high school
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
Beside sipping the head off my dad’s beer as a child, my first full beer was probably when I was a sophomore in high school.
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 a warm Busch Light my older friend Don had. It was more of a rebellion thing than a taste thing.
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 school at Emerson in Boston and U-Maine Orono for a brief stint. I wasn’t really serious about my education fresh out of high school. So I took about six years off before getting a BS in Speech Communication at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. I was heavily involved in the college radio station KPSU where I served mostly as the music director but also as program director and promotions director for a bit. I was also really involved in a few writing groups throughout college where, like at KPSU, I met friends that I still keep in touch with today.
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 remember first enjoying beer for the ABV levels, but I did have a Samuel Adams doppelbock that an older homebrewing friend gave me and remember how malty it tasted. After too many years of Mickey’s, I finally fell in love with the now defunct Lagunita’s Dogtown Brown when I lived in San Francisco. I soonafter moved to Portland, Oregon where my knew no one. I was working on graveyard shift and met my friend Shane who was a grocery clerk on the night shift across from my apartment building. He was gungho about beer off the bat and got me drinking Deschutes, Full Sail, BridgePort, Nor’Wester, Saxer, Widmer, and imported stuff like Spaten Optimator. He would make fun of me for drinking swill beer and I finally came around to really loving the complexities that craft beer had to offer.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
Well, I think that I went through a similar progression of craft drinking that many people go through. I started cutting my first tooth on affordable quasi-craft brands like Henry Weinhards and Blitz. Then I soon moved on to hoppy beers. I’d seek out the biggest hoppiest and often booziest beer I could find, and would often times only concern myself with IPAs and IIPAs. Then, I became burned out on palate wrecking bitter bombs and opted toward ambers, brown ales, stouts, porters, etc. That is until I realized the wonderful world of Belgian beer and wild ales. Even at a point recently I got burned out on sour, sour, sour, and now, I think my palate is at its most eclectic phase. I feel I am much more attuned to recognizing off-flavors and other components of beer through experimentation and education. In many ways I am still quite a novice, so I am excited to continue to realize new “ephipanies” with beer and flavor.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
I started Brewpublic around September 2008.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I have always had an affinity for writing about art, music, and culture. My first passion for writing came with music. I did music reviews for a few local papers and zines. I was a music geek. Then, after being a beer enthusiast for a few years and tinkering with homebrewing, I took on a job at Belmont Station in 2006. Here I was writing for their beer blog as well as one called Guest on Tap which was tied to a column of the same name that ran in the Portland Tribune. That was when I know I wanted to be a beer blogger. I made a few half-ass attempts at writing beer and brewery reviews traveling around Oregon. Those, in retrospect, seem pretty novice, but it opened my eyes to the possibilities.
4. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
I wanted a name that was easy to remember and resonated with people. My college friend Aaron Miles, who is Brewpublic’s graphic and web person sat with me for a few days brainstorming names. “Yeast Meets West”, “Portland Pint”, and many that we discovered were already taken. We almost settled on Brewpublican, but since we are far left leaning liberals, his wife suggested that it sounded to GOP-esque. So, we settled on Brewpublic. We want to be a community and an inclusive site that even novices can appreciate, yet without dumbing ourselves down to appeal to a broader audience. I am happy with Brewpublic as the name today, though I often hear people throwing out misnomers like BrewRepublic or BeerPublic. But, hey, whatever…
5. What are your personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
My ultimate goal is to advocate for the proliferation of craft beer. Moreover, I think it is important for Brewpublic to showcase what we have regionally here. I don’t want the site to be narcissistic or too editorialized, but sometimes that can be the nature of any blog. I want it to be a resource that people use to find out what is going on in our community. Further, it is an expression, on some level, of how much I love beer. I think the popularity of our site is a testament to how superior the Pacific Northwest’s beer culture compared to the rest of the world. I will always at heart be a New Englander, but I honestly believe that no other place can hold a candle to this region, and particularly Portland, Oregon when it comes to craft beer.
6. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
I think the first time I got a media pass to an event was a milestone event for me. Now I get invited to more beer events than I could possibly attend, but I will never forget when Jamie Floyd of Ninkasi first put me on the media list for Sasquatch Fest in Eugene. It made me feel like, “yeah, this is what I want to do.” Probably the coolest thing of all has been becoming friends with my mentor John Foyston of the Oregonian/The Beer Here. John is a true Renaissance man who I deeply respect and admire. He is an example of what enjoying beer is all about to me.
7. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
Tough question. I regularly check in with Adam Nason’s BeerNews.org site. He puts forth an amazing amount of content on a national scale that I have to salute. Before him, the late William Brand’s What’s on Tap was probably the first I read and thought “Holy crap, this guy is insanely driven. How does he do it?” He set the mark for the rest of us in the beer blog word, whether people know him or not. The ultimate regional respect goes out to John Foyston of the Oregonian’s The Beer Here. Don’t mean to shine him too hard, but he was the original. He was blogging about beer and getting you all the Hop Tips before anyone else. Now there are several noteworthy voices like Jeff Alworth of Beervana and Ezra Johnson-Greenough of The New School, but all of us in this area owe a little to John.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
Impossible question, but I will entertain it. I’ll say Berliner Weiss, Bavarian Pilsner, and American Pale Ale. It’s nice to have more than a few in a session, so why not go with these three…
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Again, that’s like asking me what my three favorite bands or films are. I will offer the following three with a brief explanation as to why they were chosen (I am sure once I send this to you, it will change).
- Avery Brewing, Boulder, Colorado – Not in Oregon?! I know, right. Avery gets the nod for doing an array of styles from hoppy IIPAs and barleywines to barrel-aged stouts and wild ale. I find this to be the benchmark of a great brewery. Their repertoire is simply mindblowing. I even named my cat Avery after their fine beer.
- Upright Brewing, Portland, Oregon— Upright gets the nod from me in a many ways because of my connection to the brewery. Founder/brewer Alex Ganum is one of my dearest friends. I think the personal connection is a big thing for me. I think when beer, especially world class beer, is being produced by someone you care about and are close to, it makes it that much better. Beer, after all, is a sort of social glue that binds us. It’s not just that I love Alex, Gerritt, and the rest of the people at Upright, but I think they make the best barrel-aged beers in the region, save for maybe Block 15, Cascade, or Oakshire.
- New Glarus, New Glarus, Wisconsin—Unfortunately, I don’t have easy access to the beers of this fine brewery, but I have had a lot of different brands from them, all exceptional. When I visited the brewery in 2009, it was an incredibly mindblowing experience getting a tour from brewmaster Dan Carey and getting to sample all of his beers in his QA lab. Everything from their Totally Naked lager up to their Black Top CDA and Ice Barleywine are all phenomenal. Plus his Thumbprint Series and the tart fruit ales are some of the most spectacular brews I have ever witnessed New Glarus’ IIPA is the best I’ve ever tasted. Mad respect for these folks!
4. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
If it were just for the beer, I’d say that I am pretty contented in having worked for Cascade and Upright, but I would have to say I’d probably work for Nogne O, simply so that I could live and work in Norway. Perhaps it would be nice to work at an Italian brewery like Nuovo Birrifico. I’d even consider working at Hallartau or Epic Brewing so I could live near Auckland in New Zealand.
5. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
I am a homebrewer. Not as prolific as many people I know when it comes to the art, but I do enjoy making beer from time to time. Probably the most interesting beer I made was a Rooibos Red Ale with black tea, oatmeal, and orange peel. I love Rooibos and I think more people should brew with it.
6. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
None. I have taken the BJCP course but never tested out. I would love to go to Siebel someday. In fact, I plan on it.
7. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
Besides running Brewpublic, I work as a beertender at By The Bottle in Vancouver, Washington. I also work part time at Upright Brewing.
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?
Not sure. I think I am happy right now. I wouldn’t mind involving myself more in helping those less fortunate than myself or in working with animals.
3. Are you married? Children?
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Music, film, exercise, vegetarian cuisine. I don’t know, beer takes up a lot of my time and energy.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be and why?
Another tough question. I honestly don’t know how to answer this. I guess I would want to be something tasty with a good nose, not too dank or funky.
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 choose and why?
Man, these are hard questions to answer. Maybe a Drie Fonteinen Geueze, Deschutes The Abyss or The Dissident, Sierra Nevada Celebration. I guess I would choose these because they leave a nice lingering taste in my mouth.
3. If I contracted you to brew a beer (or design a beer recipe) called “The Beer Wench” — what style would you choose and what, if any, extra ingredients would you add?
I guess I would need to know you better to design a beer around you. I suppose I would find out what kind of beer you’d like to drink and perhaps make use of some ingredients from your area or where you grew up, or perhaps something symbolic of who you are and what caters to your palate. Probably not a Fresh Hop CDA.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I would want my super powers to be able to make myself and everyone around me happy. Not ignorant bliss, but just peacefulness and joy. Does that sound lame? How about the ability to read minds when I choose.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
Hmmm. I did a lot of stupid shit when I was younger. Nothing super crazy. I’ll have to think on that one…
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
I used to be obsessed with bacon when I was in high school. I played drums in a punk band when I was 19 that had a song called “Bloody Bacon Meet” attesting to our love for bacon. However, for the past 14 years or so, I have been living on a mostly vegan diet. I am a lover of animals and chose no longer to eat them. Therefor I do not eat bacon. I know, right.