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: WIN BASSETT
AUTHOR OF: NC BREWING
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Martinsville, Virginia, a small town in the southwestern part of the state, right over the North Carolina border.
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
I played soccer in high school but kept the bench pretty warm. I started running during my last year of law school and never stopped. I now run for Team Raleigh Running Outfitters/FASTcoaching, a local competitive running team. I also founded the Big Boss Run Club, which runs out of Big Boss Brewing Co. in Raleigh, North Carolina, every Tuesday night, followed by delicious North Carolina beer, of course.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
Twenty-one—can you believe it?
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 had never had a sip of alcohol before I turned twenty-one, due to oldest brother syndrome, not disappointing my parents, and rebelling against the notion that it was cool to drink in high school. I was the rebel because I didn’t beer bong Natty Light after football games on Friday nights! What do you think of that?
On my twenty-first birthday, I went to Angus Barn in Raleigh for dinner, where I had my first glass of wine. Afterward, I went to Mitch’s Tavern, which is the bar from the movie Bull Durham. A friend bought me a bottle of Bud heavy. I drank one sip and thought it was gross. I could not figure out how people actually enjoyed drinking beer. I took a few more sips to assure myself that I did not like it. For the rest of school, I stuck to wine and bourbon and ginger.
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 North Carolina State University in Raleigh and studied electrical engineering and computer engineering. I was involved in student government, serving on the Student Senate and the Student Judicial Board, and I was the design editor for the Technician, N.C. State’s daily student newspaper. I then went to law school at the University of North Carolina School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was an editor on the North Carolina Law Review and on the executive board of the Carolina Intellectual Property Law Association.
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:
As I said before, I wrote off beer after my Bud heavy birthday experience. During my first year of law school, I went with some friends to Tyler’s Taproom in Carrboro, North Carolina, to play trivia. Someone bought me a Rogue Dead Guy, and I took a sip to avoid being rude. My life changed forever. It tasted nothing like the stuff that came from that bottle on my twenty-first birthday. We regularly played trivia at Tyler’s for several months that year, and I always ordered a Dead Guy.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
My next epiphany was having a Fullsteam Southern Lager after running with the Fullsteam Ahead! Run Club one Wednesday night this summer at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, North Carolina. I was sitting at a picnic table inside the R&D Taproom with some of my best friends. That moment made me realize that there is nothing better on earth than sharing a good beer with good friends over good conversation. It brought together everything that makes the craft beer community amazing.
My most recent epiphany was drinking Uli’s Geuze at Tasty Beverage Co. in Raleigh. If you’re unfamiliar with Uli, he crafts his own geuzes by blending lambics from an assortment of producers. He blended this particular geuze with ten different lambics—3 Fonteinen, Boon, Cantillon, De Troch, De Cam, Girardin, Hanssens, Lindemans, Mort Subite, and Oud Beersel. A friend that works at Tasty Beverage had befriended Uli on a recent trip to Belgium and graciously opened up a bottle for a few friends one night. The combination of raw, horse blanket funk with the story of Uli blending this geuze himself in what was essentially a plastic bucket made this a beer to remember. As for the friend at Tasty, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to repay him for these opportunities or his wonderful stories from Belgium.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
It went live in August 2011.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
My blog partner, Richard Mitchell, tweeted one day that he wanted to start a podcast about North Carolina beer. I had never met Richard in person before but replied that I wanted to help. I drove to his house a few weeks later, and after meeting him for the first time in person, we did our first podcast about twenty minutes later.
The podcast was well received in the North Carolina beer community. Richard had already developed the website and had posted a few news blurbs about North Carolina beer. I offered to write longer, feature pieces for the blog, and the rest is history!
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
Richard chose it, so I had nothing to do with it, but it works!
4. What are your personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
Not only do I want to keep the North Carolina beer community informed with the latest news, beer releases, and events, but I want to cultivate this relatively new, yet thriving community by bringing its members together to share in the amazing beer that is being crafted in this state.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
The coolest thing that has happened to me, without a doubt, is meeting the wonderful people of the North Carolina beer community. Oh, and sharing a beer with Josh Brewer of Mother Earth Brewing Co. in Kinston, North Carolina. Who doesn’t have a #mancrush on him?
6. What are your top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
– The Beer Wench (because you said if I didn’t include it, you would force-feed me bacon)
– Beernews.org (does Adam Nason sleep?)
– Aleheads (I’m scared of Kid Carboy but want to share a beer with Slouch Sixpack and Barley McHops)
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
– Fullsteam Brewery (Durham, NC)
– Wedge Brewing Co. (Asheville, NC)
– Brasserie-Brouwerij Cantillon (Brussels, Belgium)
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
Fullsteam in Durham, North Carolina. Not only does Chris Davis (Zymologist) brew amazing beers with local ingredients, but Sean Wilson (Chief Executive Optimist) has continued to tirelessly cultivate an incredible craft beer community in North Carolina ever since he successfully lead the Pop the Cap campaign to change the state’s ABV cap from 6% to 15% in 2005. Further, Fullsteam’s pint-to-plow philosophy of using local ingredients has produced some creative and solid offerings while supporting the agriculture of North Carolina.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
I’ve made one attempt at homebrewing—a single-hopped IPA because the kit I used was missing all of the other varieties of hops that were included in the recipe. Let’s just say that I’m happy drinking the other beer that is coming from North Carolina.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
No, but I have thought about pursuing some in the future.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
A crisp, hop-forward IPA and a gigantic, “kitchen-sink” salad with everything thrown in there, enjoyed outside on a hot, summer day.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I’m a state prosecutor.
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 want your job–“Director of Awesomeness,” or evangelist—but with a North Carolina brewery. I do it now in my free time for all North Carolina beer and love every minute of it.
3. Are you married? Children?
Is this a standard question or a personal one from you?
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
If I’m not writing about beer, I’m running. If I’m not doing either, I’m probably at my day job.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would you be and why?
A lambic. I’ll just hang out in a pool, or what the cool kids call a “coolship,” and get funky. Want to join me? I’m a few years your junior, so we’d make a pretty good geuze.
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?
A Rogue Dead Guy for the simple reason to bring things full circle. This beer introduced me to the beer community, both nationwide and in North Carolina, and it brought this passion to life. I once read a quote that said, “Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” This first craft beer brought me to life, so let it bring me to death.
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 would brew a Flanders Red because (1) it would match your current hair color; (2) it is known for its sharp, sour, and tart flavors (like you); and (3) it typically has a low ABV, which is needed around The Beer Wench. Who knows what happens when the imperial stouts start flying open…
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I would love to be able to teleport to share North Carolina’s amazing beer with anyone in the world. I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of this community.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
My best friend from college (and now roommate), @GregMulholland, and I backpacked across Europe after our freshman year. He had just finished a study abroad program in Segovia, Spain, and I was going to start my program at Oxford in a few weeks. After a sleepless night on a train from France to Switzerland (because we thought our cabin mate, who was a “pharmaceutical salesman,” was going to poison us in our sleep), the train came to a halt in the middle-of-nowhere Switzerland around 5:00 a.m. We had to get off at this stop to catch another train to Lucerne, and we thought we had plenty of time to grab our packs and get off of the train.
It started moving again after just a few minutes, however, and we made the decision to jump from the moving train (much to the dismay of the attendant yelling at us) because who knows where we would have ended up had we not. Fortunately, I landed on my feet. @GregMulholland was not as lucky.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
They are often non-existent. The closest that I’ve come to eating bacon in well over a year was a few sips of Bull City Burger and Brewery’s (Durham, North Carolina) Pigmeat Markham Smoked Rye. Seth Gross smoked the malt over applewood to achieve the flavor, and it tasted exactly like bacon, or at least how I remember it tasting.