Featured Beer Blogger: JASON JOHNSON


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!

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Beer Blogger Interview

Full name: Jason Johnson
Internet nickname:Barleypopmaker
Name of blog: Barleypopmaker’s Beer Blog
Current location: Manitowoc, WI

Background “Snapshot”

1. Where did you grow up?

I hate to say it, but I grew up right here in Manitowoc and have lived here all my 35 years.

2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?

I didn’t play any high school or college sports, but a friend and I boxed a bit in my late teens, then I took up Karate in my 20’s.

3. How old were you when you had your first beer?

I was 13 when I had my first full can of beer. However, I didn’t have my first real beer (non-macro) until I was 21.

4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?

Well, my first beer at 13 was no big deal, it was a can of Miller High Life. A friend and I used to sneak a can or two a week from our Dad’s beer in the fridge. Then drink them when his parents went bowling. My first import beer was Hacker-Pschorr Weisse and I was introduced to that by a co-worker one night. We went to a local pub where they serve yards of beer and he told me I couldn’t get Bud in that, so he suggested Hacker-Pschorr to start, and it was all downhill from there.

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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: My first one was also the first time I had Hacker-Pschorr Weisse. Prior to that, my knowledge of beer was strictly the mass produced macro beers. Any import beer I have had up to that moment was either Heineken or Becks, neither of which I liked. That one beer forced upon me, changed my perspective on beer forever.

2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first?

Detail as many of them as you wish: I have had two more major ones, the first was the discovery that a person could make beer. Then after my wife bought me a homebrewing kit and a gift certificate to a homebrew supply shop in Green Bay now called House of Homebrew (at the time it was part of a outdoor outfitter called Life Tools), I learned the basics about how beer was made. The second major one, was the discovery that there was a such thing as homebrew competition.

I entered the Schooner Homebrew Championships and took a silver medal in the stout category. At that moment, I wanted to see what judging beer was all about, and another door to the beer world opened up to me. I then enrolled in a BJCP course and took the exam. Both of these changed not only how I view beer, but also my appreciation for it.

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Beer Blog Background

1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?

I started a beer blog in 2008, but moved my blogging to wordpress in July of 2009.

2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Blogging made writing about beer and brewing fun again.

3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?

I wanted to use my online nickname because it is also tied with my website. The plan is that the blog is replacing the website, a blog just fits so much better for what I want to do.

4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?

The main purpose of my blog is to help educate about beer style and beer evaluation and give anyone a jumping off point regardless of experience. I took the BJCP course with no all-grain experience at the time, and no judging experience at all. I did not even steward a competition.

Therefore, what I try to do in the review portion of my blog is give a reader the link the guidelines to a particular beer style, then break it down, as I perceive it. The reader can either use my review as guide for what they may be getting, or simply agree or disagree with my assessment. Mostly, I just want people to take beer for what it is and realize that all beer deserves some respect, even Budweiser. I also post a bit about homebrewing and other beer culture related topics.

5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?

Nothing major has happened to me. Probably the coolest thing was being recognized at two different liquor stores in town here as “that guy who writes those beer reviews” when I was blogging on or local newspapers site. Also finding out that at least one of the local liquor stores still reads my blog since I moved and I have influenced some of the types of beer they bring in.

6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?

It is hard for me to pick three because there are a lot of good blogs and site out there. I am a huge fan of the The Brewing Network. I check simplybeer.com quite often, and have recently found myself looking at The Beer Connoisseur magazines website more and more.

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Beer Talk

1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?

It changes from time to time. But right now its IPA (including Imperial), barleywines, and lambic/gueuze

2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?

New Glarus, Lagunitas, and Stone Brewing.

3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?

Easily it would be New Glarus. Not only because they are my favorite brewery, but in October I took their Hard Hat tour and you can tell that not only do the employees have a genuine love for the company, but Dan and Deb Carrey really care for their employees just as much as their product. Honestly, that is probably why the beer quality is unbeatable.

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, and I call my little brewing operation “Fat Dead Monk Ales”. The most interesting beer I attempted to make was an Aloe Vera ale that was nothing to write home about. However, the best beer I make on a regular basis with a unique ingredient is a chocolate stout I call Vader’s Fist, it is made with roasted cacao nibs.

5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?

I hold the certified rank with the BJCP.

6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

I have a quite a few, but a unique one I find interesting is framboise with a gorgonzola blue cheese.

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The Personal Side

1. What is your current day job?

I am a shipping clerk and IT Intern.

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?

Dream job huh? I would say working in an IT department at a brewery, preferably at New Glarus. Computers and beer, how could you beat that?

3. Are you married? Children?

Yes to both. I have a wife, Jessica and a three-year-old son Lincoln.

4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?

I like to go fishing in the summer, I am a big fan of MMA, I love to make real BBQ low and slow, and I do a bit of oil painting.

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Off The Beaten Path

1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?

Probably an IPA, since I think my body has been filled with hop oils over the last couple of years.

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 part of me wants something I have never had before because that is the most fun. The other part is calling for Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout to help me not care about what is about to happen.

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 am picturing jalapeño cream ale. The cream ale is inviting and easy drinking, very easily approachable by any beer drinker. However, the jalapeño adds a touch of spice and sass that only a true beer lover could understand.

4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

To control people’s minds like Professor Xavier. Do you know how many free beers a person could get?

5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?

Death Runs. In my early 20’s a friend and I would get….um…..let’s call it enhanced, then go out to a breakwater that was nothing more than tons of well placed boulders out on lake Michigan. Then we would run around this breakwater (probably just under a ¼ mile total in size) as fast as we could as if it was a track.

Each time we would try to beat our fastest time. Did I mention we would do this only during storms or bad weather, and often at night? One time in particular the waves were crashing over the rocks and we were both holding on to the rocks as the waves were crashing around us. We easily could have been washed into the lake and nobody would ever have known. I never said it was smart, but it was crazy.

6. What are your thoughts on bacon?

It makes everything better. There is not doubt in my mind that bacon makes Atomic Buffalo Turds as good as they are. Just take a Jalapeno, cut it in half and remove the seeds. Pack each side with cream cheese, stuff a little Smokey in the middle between the two halves, and wrap the whole thing in bacon and use a toothpick to hold it all together. Put it on the smoker for a couple of hours, and you have pure heaven right there. Google ABT’s, or Atomic Buffalo Turds.




About The Beer Wench

Ashley is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist & social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. She is currently the “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA — where her responsibilities include everything from marketing, sales, PR, social media & events. Ashley is also a freelance consultant and professional speaker on the subjects of social media, beer mixology, food & beverage pairings. She is the founder of DrinkWithTheWench.com & BeerMixology.com as well as a regular contributor to CraftBeer.com.

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