(Photo credit: Jay Brooks)
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: STEPHEN BEAUMONT
AUTHOR OF: BLOGGING AT WORLD OF BEER
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Before I dive straight into my interview with Stephen, I feel it important to note how important and impacting he has been on my development as a beer writer and beer connoisseur. I had the honor of meeting Stephen while visiting Chicago for the 2008 National Restaurant Association Show. We met through a mutual friend at Goose Island — where Stephen was the first person to introduce me to the “Saison” style of beer.
That night ended up being one of the most memorable, eye-opening and educational experiences in my early beer writing days. It was on that fateful night that I had my biggest “beer epiphany” after tasting my first gueze. I will never forget that night or forget meeting Stephen. Although he did not know it until now, Stephen will always have a special place in my heart.
So without further ado, meet Stephen Beaumont — the exemplary beer writer, inspirational mentor and crazy Scotch-loving (exceptionally good-looking) Canadian.
Beer Blogger Interview
Full name: Stephen L. Beaumont
Name of blog: Blogging at World of Beer (Despite what Jack Curtin might believe, this is a temporary place holder while I pull together a redesign of the World of Beer website.)
Current location: Toronto
1. Where did you grow up?
Montreal first, then Oakville (a Toronto suburb) and then Toronto
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
I was a competitive swimmer
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
10 or so, but I had my first watered down wine at the age of 4
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 at a restaurant in Maine, of all places. With my family.
5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?
York University in Ontario, where I graduated with a B.A. (hon.) in Pol Sci. (I tell people that you do three things when studying political science: you write a lot, you talk a lot and you drink a lot. This naturally set me on the road to my present career.)
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:
The beer was Hoegaarden White, brought back for me from the town of Hoegaarden back when Pierre Celis was still brewing it. It changed my perception of beer completely.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
Every good beer is an epiphany in its own right. I never stop learning or appreciating.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog– Blogging at The World of Beer?
Blogging for a year or so, but World of Beer itself dates back to, I think, 1996 or 1997.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
3. Why did you chose the name of your blog?
The blog name came from the website name, of course, which in turn came from the fact that the few other combinations I had tried were already taken, including my name. Since I travel the world in search of great beer, World of Beer seemed apt.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
Honestly, I haven’t the foggiest.
5. In addition to your World of Beer website, you have also written for various other sources as well as published a book. Please feel free to detail as many of these as you wish:
I’ve been writing about beer (and spirits and travel) for about 20 years and have written or co-written six books.
My latest is The beerbistro Cookbook, which was inspired by the 6 year old beer cuisine restaurant in which I’m a partner. I have also contributed to several other books, most recently Ben McFarland’s new World’s Best Beers, and contribute regularly to ten magazines and irregularly to several others.
6. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger/writer?
Way too numerous to mention, but tasting a Thomas Hardy vertical back in the mid-1990’s and drinking a seven year old bottle of the very first brewing of St. Lamvinus with Jean-Pierre Van Roy at the Cantillon brewery have to rank right up there.
7. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
I decline to mention, mainly because I enjoy so many.
This might sound a bit pompous, but I would rather expound upon beer for a bit than answer your listed questions. Because, you see, I can honestly state that I enjoy almost any beer style when it’s done well, from west-coast American hop bombs to the elegant subtlety of a kölsch. Truly, I believe that there is a beer for every occasion, and an occasion for every characterful beer.
What I think a lot of people miss when they are talking about beer style likes and dislikes is that context can affect perception in very real ways, and not liking a specific beer or style in one context should not preclude liking it in another. I have seen people who can’t stand lambics fall in love with the style in Belgium, and people who shun hoppy ales enjoy them with the right food combination.
One of my favourite such stories concerns my beerbistro Cookbook co-author and the executive chef and principle owner of the restaurant, Brian Morin. Way back when I was first introducing Brian to some more esoteric beers, one he simply couldn’t wrap his head around was Rochefort 8, which I regard as one of the world’s finest beers for pairing with chocolate. Didn’t matter to Brian, though. He just couldn’t see the appeal. Then we went to a local Belgian-style café and at the end of the meal I ordered us Rochefort 8s and slices of flourless chocolate cake. He took one bite and a sip and I could see the light bulbs going off. He looked at me, smiled and said, “Okay, I get it!”
I have never wanted to work in a brewery because I see how hard brewers work, often for too-low pay and a general lack of appreciation. I’m happy with my pen and notebook, thanks.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
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 honestly wouldn’t change. I love my job.
3. Are you married? Children?
Married for a year-and-a-half, no kids.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Travel and eating and drinking figure high in my list of pursuits. (See why I love my job?) I love watching a good football, sorry, soccer game, live or on the tube, and enjoy reading. I also exercise rather reluctantly, running mostly, to keep off the weight.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
You’re kidding, right?
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?
Distilled beer, aka single malt. Probably a Bowmore for sentimental reasons.
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?
You’re kidding, right?
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Flying would be cool.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
Becoming a full-time freelance beer writer.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
Warm and fuzzy. (My thoughts, not the bacon!)