Featured Beer Blogger: JOHN KARLIS

Written by Wenchie. Posted in Blogger Interviews

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Featured Beer Blogger: JOHN KARLIS

Published on February 18, 2010 with 3 Comments


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!




Beer Blogger Interview

Full name: John Karlis
Twitter handle: @karlisbeer
Name of blog: Karlis’ Hopyard
Current location: Orange County, California


Background “Snapshot”

1. Where did you grow up?

I was born in New York, but my folks moved out to California when I was young. I pretty much grew up in the foothills near Sacramento.

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

I did the usual soccer and baseball when I was in grade school, but was more into skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, tennis and golf. Started snowboarding back when there was only one mountain in California that even allowed it.

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

Hard to say, I think I was probably about 3?

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 don’t remember it, but my mom has a Polaroid somewhere of me with a can of Coors. The old Coors with the two hole push-top can. I guess the story was that I was pretty sick with the flu and wouldn’t eat anything. When my parents weren’t looking I grabbed my dad’s Coors and took a few sips and liked it.

Don’t get all judgmental on my parents here! It was one time and it was cute. Times sure are different now – nowadays they probably would have gone to prison for something like that. As I got older Coors was still the family standard, but Dos Equis and Sierra Nevada came into the mix in my early teens. I’d have a few sips here or there on special occasions. It wasn’t really taboo or anything – not really a big deal for us kids to get a sip or two at a family function.

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 Sonoma State University up in Northern California for my bachelor’s in Business and Economics. I went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for my MBA. I wasn’t much of a “joiner” while in college. Just did my work and hung out with friends. Played a lot of tennis and surfed quite a bit while at SLO. Went to SLO Brewing Company on Thursday nights to play pool and eat steak sandwiches, onion rings and drink many pints of porter.


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’m not sure if you could call it an epiphany, but I suppose it would be during college around ‘94. I was of course a starving student, so it’s not like I could really afford good beer, and wasn’t exposed to much more than Miller High Life, Mickey’s, and Keystone Light while living in the dorms and going to frat parties. (I wasn’t in a fraternity, but they had great parties.)

Then I think it was in my Junior year at Sonoma State when I answered a job ad for an assistant at a microbrewery. It was San Rafael Brewing, Co.(AKA J&L Brewing) out of Novato, CA. It was a real Mom & Pop operation, but they had a decent distribution started in California. They brewed and kegged out of a rented space adjacent to a sports bar, and did some contract brewing for their bottles out of Colorado. They had 4 main beers: Amber, Golden, Stout, and a Diamond which was a 50/50 mix of the Amber and Golden.

So this is really the first craft beer I had access to, and though not an award winning beer by today’s standards it was pretty good beer and way better at least than the swill I was accustomed to at college. I did mostly grunt work, cleaning kegs, fermenters, etc., occasionally assisting with some of the brewing. But there was nothing quite like going to work at 5am in the morning before school and pouring myself a fresh stout for breakfast. The whole yeasty, bready smell of the brewery in the morning coupled with fresh poured stout I think is what changed beer for me.

2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:

I think I have new beer epiphanies every time I have a new craft brew or see a new brewing gadget. For example was up at 21st Amendment up in San Fran not too long ago and had their Back in Black IPA. Knew right there I had to start trying to brew something like that. Then a friend recently sent me a bottle of Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale and that was unbelievable. So right now I’m all about experimenting with IPA’s. I currently have an epiphany of a new design for a counterflow chiller I want to build.

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Beer Blog Background

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

Just a little over two years now. But sporadically. I don’t post as often as I’d like to.

2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?

A couple of things I think.

As I started homebrewing, I was always checking out other blogs and websites looking for advice and tips. There’s a lot of real helpful and interesting sites out there. So I thought I would add to the space and hopefully contribute. Also, I thought the blog would be a good venue to learn a little about search engine optimization and web advertising for some other projects I have in mind.

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

I’m not too creative anymore. I’ve planted a few hop vines in my yard here in SoCal. I jokingly call the 6 vines my hopyard. So there you go: Karlis’ Hopyard

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

I don’t know if I really have any goals for the site. It’s always nice to get more readers, but I can’t complain since it’s up to me to constantly provide content that people are interested in reading. There may be a time in the future when I get more serious about it. Perhaps if I get to the point where I get any beers distributed or start selling real products, then maybe I’ll step up the site a bit.

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

Well, this interview is pretty cool. It’s nice to get some recognition, so thanks I appreciate that. What I also enjoy about being a beer blogger is the feedback and advice I get form other bloggers and readers. As far as virtual communities go, I think beer bloggers and brewers are a fairly friendly bunch that are always willing to help you out.

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

Is this the point where I say “This one!”? Well, I just recently stumbled upon your site – but I will say it’s quite impressive. Other than that I would say:


Beer Talk

1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?

Porter, IPA, Stout are probably the all-time fav’s. It’s difficult, sometimes I feel like I have beer ADHD. My tastes change so much with so many different styles out there. Lately I’m hooked on American IPA’s and Baltic Porters, but sometimes it’s Irish Reds and Stouts or English Bitters. Also depends on the season and the meal I’m eating.

2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?

I’ll assume here you mean breweries I’ve been to? If so, that would be Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Stone Brewing in Encinitas, and Sierra Nevada in Chico.

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

I would probably want to work at one of the Trappist Monastery breweries in Belgium or the Netherlands. Seems like a pretty serene and fulfilling job. Brewing for self-sustenance of the monastery and providing for good causes.

4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?

Yes I homebrew. I’ve been experimenting a lot recently with vanilla beans in porters and pales, and I have an oaked Baltic porter conditioning right now.

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

Nope no official certifications. How about the “Homebrewing School of Hard Knocks and Broken Carboys”

6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef with Anchor Steam. I know, it doesn’t make sense but I like it.
Other than that, a REAL NY Style Pizza & Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and then maybe a juicy med-rare steak with a porter. For dessert: Stout Float or Chimay and Chocolate!!!


The Personal Side

1. What is your current day job?

Information Technology Architect

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 would probably get back into art. That’s what I was into when I was younger before I chickened out and decided to go the safe route with business school. I come from a family of artists, and carpenters. If I had no restrictions, I’d probably do a venture that involved art, pizza, and brewing. Or maybe I’d just like a vineyard…

3. Are you married? Children?

Yes, very happily married with a 17 month old daughter, and another (not sure if boy or girl yet) on the way!

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

I like to do home improvement, and also a little light gardening. I don’t have a big yard so not too much. If I had more space, I’d like to plant some grapevines and more hops. I also enjoy cooking, golf, tennis, and snowboarding. Travel whenever possible, but it’s a lot tougher lately with the little one. I try to do some art and build things whenever I get some free time and inspiration.

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Off The Beaten Path

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

Tough question! I think probably a California Common.(Steam Beer) Why? It’s a unique hybrid beer that was developed out of improvisation by the California gold miners who needed to brew beer but only had lager yeast and no refrigeration. I consider myself a native Californian and am always pretty good at improvising to make things work.

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?

Guinness of course. “Guinness for Strength!” I’d drink the Guinness and overpower the executioner and escape. Then I’d drink a Red Bull because it gives you wings. I’d fly away.

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?

Another tough one considering I don’t know you that well. But I’ll give it a stab. Let’s see, considering you call yourself the Beer Wench, pirates come to mind. So I’m thinking I would start with something like an English Special Bitter, but I would age it in bourbon casks and maybe dry-hop it with fresh harvested, wet hops.

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

Definitely the power to fly. I’m always flying around everywhere in my dreams. That is, except when I’m dreaming about showing up at high school naked, late for a test, and can’t remember the combination to my locker.

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

I’m a pretty low-key guy, so nothing too crazy or life threatening. Maybe that time I spit my gum on the street in Singapore? They give you lashings with bamboo for stuff like that there. Oh yeah, I blew up a router once and almost set off all the sprinklers in a raised floor data center. Again that was in Singapore. Something about Singapore I guess.

Oh and there was that time in college where I may have shut down the power to half of the campus and dorms during finals week. Oh, Oh, and the barefoot waterskiing time where I caught a toe and slammed the water, blowing out my eardrum. My friends still won’t let me live that one down 18 years later.

6. What are your thoughts on bacon?

I don’t think about bacon too much. Just fry it up and eat as much as I can as fast as I can, with pancakes and coffee on a Sunday morning!



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There are currently 3 Comments on Featured Beer Blogger: JOHN KARLIS. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. How embarrassing, I said in the interview “Stone Brewery in Encinitas”, I meant to say Escondido. Don’t know why I always mix those two up. Sorry @StoneBrewingCo for the geography mixup, your Beer is awesome though no matter where it’s served!

  2. Great interview!

  3. Great interview… Glad I got to read a little more about Karlis. Sweet idea with the interviews

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