Featured Beer Blogger: CHRIS RUSSO 1


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: Chris Russo
Twitter handle: @52brews
Name of blog: 52brews.com / midtownale.com
Current location: NJ

Background “Snapshot”

1. Where did you grow up?

The suburbs of NYC – A small town in Northern NJ called Verona

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

I was really more of a beer pong kinda guy

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

Probably somewhere around 13 or 14

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 my first beer per se, but one of my earliest memories of beer involved a six pack of Budweiser found in the back of a friend’s garage. The beer was several years old but I don’t think that’s what made it taste the way it did.

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 Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ to study Radio/TV/Film


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’ve always been adventurous when it comes to trying new beers; let’s just say I enjoy a little surprise and sense of variety in life. It wasn’t a couple years ago, however, that I started to take the whole experience a little more seriously.

I joined a beer club at a local pub – the deal was you drink everything on the list and you get your name on the wall, with some other little perks along the way. Somewhere along the journey I took on a 750mL bomber of Chimay Red. I pulled the little information pamphlet off the neck and read the tale of the monks of Scourmont Abbey and their iconic Trappist brew. For the few minutes I took in that information I was completely lost in a daydream. If it wasn’t for the few details on the pamphlet, then it was the subtext in my mind that transported me to a land where good beer is essential to a good life.

In my naïve little head I was picturing cartoon-like caricatures of ivory-robed monks grinning ear-to-ear while collectively stirring a giant copper kettle. These were the happiest monks in the world, and this was my own private nirvana. I am not a particularly religious man, but I do think I could dedicate my life to brewing one of the more respected beers in the world… ya know, if I didn’t have real life to tend to and all. And that whole celibacy thing sort of throws a stick in the spokes of my marriage. But I digress…

Flash forward to now – I’m a little older, a little wiser, a most definitely little more jaded. I try to avoid macro brews and throw my business to the smaller brewers. I know Chimay takes a lot of heat for ‘modernizing’ their brewing process and increasing their output, but I hold a special place in my heart for Chimay, and still enjoy their beers immensely.


Beer Blog Background

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

A little over a year. My first post was in September 2008.

2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?

I’ve long enjoyed writing and was keeping a casual personal blog going for a while. I needed a focus and found that the world of great beer could use a few more ambassadors. Not long after my Chimay epiphany I decided the world needed a loud mouth to tell them about all this crazy stuff. I started very much as a novice and have developed my palate along the way.

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

Ha… well, I was originally supposed to review a beer every week. That proved a little too ambitious. Then I said I would post *something* every week. That too was a tall order. Now I’m just trying to post *something* period… when I can … on occasion. It seems to be working out nicely. Plus it almost rhymes – say it, 52brews.

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

I try to avoid delusions of grandeur. If I can convince someone to try something different, or share a story with a reader that they would have otherwise overlooked, then it all becomes worth my time and effort. At the end of the day, my site needs to be my personal escape from the daily grind. This is a hobby and a learning experience, and beer is something I’ve become very passionate about as a result of blogging.

I am open to exploring new ways to share information – from mo-blogging to video I am constantly tinkering, and plan to keep doing so. This has all become somewhat therapeutic – I enjoy sharing my writing and photos. Most recently I started midtownale.com, hosted on 52brews, to help people find great beer in midtown Manhattan (which is a lot freakin harder than one might think).

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

The NY/NJ beer blogger meet up in Jan ’10 was awesome, but a profile feature from the Beer Wench: priceless.

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


Beer Talk

1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?

The bigger the better: stouts, sours, barleywines

2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?

This is the toughest question on here… but I’ll go with my gut. (In no particular order) Rodenbach, Dogfish Head, Founders (honorable mention for Jolly Pumpkin?)

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

Picking one, I think I’d start with Cantillon. I’m fascinated by tradition and intrigued to see their century-old equipment in use. Or maybe La Baladin, because that Teo Musso dude looks like he knows how to have a good time.

4. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

Barleywine and bleu cheese are welcome in my home any time of day or night.


The Personal Side

1. What is your current day job?

I am a graphics production manager for a major broadcast/cable company. More substantial and important work aside, we dress up the screen and post the pretty pictures around your favorite TV news personalities. If my cohorts are the ones decorating the train, I aim to get it there on time.

2. Are you married? Children?

Happily married. She loves good beer too (lucky, aren’t I?). We don’t have any kids yet.

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

Bourbon, wine, food, music, film and good people make up my other vices…

Carnegie stark porter

Off The Beaten Path

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

A sour ale. My odor is off-putting but I’m really not all that bad once you get to know me. (kidding of course, I’m actually a relentless raging asshole)

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?

I’m thinking Southern Tier Choklat. It makes me smile.

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?

An oak aged chocolate coffee stout with smoked habaneros. It’s big, bold and spicy, goes well with bacon, and not quite like anything you’ve seen before.

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

I’ve always thought it would be pretty cool to read minds

5. What are your thoughts on bacon?

Bacon defines, compliments, and exemplifies all that is good in this world. Amen.

Rochefort 8



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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