Featured Beer Blogger: ETHAN RUSIN 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: ethan rusin
Twitter handle: @tbrp & @midwestbeerblog
Name of blog: midwest beer and brewing
Current location:

Background “Snapshot”

1. Where did you grow up?

Anoka, MN which is a small town that is known for being the birthplace of Garrison Keillor (it’s his hometown and he is the founder of A Prairie Home Companion).

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

It was always basketball with soccer during the b-ball offseason.

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

My first whole beer was in my early twenties, but my Dad let me have sips of his since I was 12.

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

The first beer I tasted was probably Special Export. It was my Dad’s brand during the early years of my life.

The first beer I enjoyed, on my own, was probably one of my Dad’s homebrewed barley wines. Ever since, I have been a huge fan of barley wines and dark beers.

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 the U of Pittsburgh for my freshman year and partook in their juggling club. I can only juggle 3 things at a time currently, but would like to make my way to 5.

I wrapped up my schooling at the U of MN where I obtained a degree in mechanical engineering while writing the ‘weird science’ portion of the Engineering department magazine. I was also a member of a student run improv group (the name escapes me but it was probably gopher related).


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:

It would have to be some of my Dad’s 6 yr old barley wine. I remember it being smooth like rum with hints of brandy, brown sugar, and a strong malt spine to support it.

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

A series of them occurred at a liquor store in Minneapolis called Surdyk’s that provided my first glimpse at beer options. Every time I stopped in, a fellow named Peter (who looked a lot like a cheerful German fellow who celebrates Oktoberfest year round) and every time I asked him a question about a beer he would provide an answer and then go beyond what was needed. He would name the hops used, the malts used, non-malt grains used, and the location of the brewery. All of this was extremely impressive, and as a result Peter was my beer priest for quite some time.

My first Schell’s Bock Fest made me witness to the ability of beer to bring people together to have a good time. Granted, in college people had a great time at a bar getting tanked on light beer, but my first Schell’s Bockfest was my first time enjoying copious amounts of great beer in the outdoors. Btw, attending a Schell’s Bock Fest should be something all beer fans do before they die. It takes place at Schell’s Brewery (the 2nd oldest family owned brewery in the US) in New Ulm, MN. There is a polka band that plays country, rock, and pop covers (they are at their best when they cover Johnny Cash). There is also a scavenger hunt and Schell’s bock beer flowing all day. It is a great time that I hope to celebrate again next year.

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Beer Blog Background

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

A little under a year

2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?

I enjoy beer so much that I wanted another outlet, and a blog fit the bill.

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

I am a big fan of the Midwest and all that it contains… It has big cities (Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, etc), plenty of space to roam (the north shore of Lake Superior is great year round & Iowa.. need I say more?), friendly people, and the people love their sports, life, beer, etc.. In short, it’s a great place and I am lucky to be from this part of the country.

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

  • I want to become a better writer and a better beer reviewer.
  • I hope that by reflecting on past brewing experiences that I can become a better brewer.
  • I hope it will provide a means to network with other beer fans, brewers, breweries, and beer organizations
  • I would also like to improve my computer coding so that the blog itself is easier to use, more fluid, and more appealing.

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

I received an interview request from the lovely beer wench :)

The opportunity to make contact with other beer fans is a great thing that I enjoy immensely.

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


Beer Talk

1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?

  • Barley wine
  • Abbey/trappist ale
  • Stout

*pretty much any dark style of beer.

2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?

By part of the US:

  • West Coast = Lagunitas
  • Midwest = Founders
  • East Coast = Allagash

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

Brooklyn Brewery – I am a huge fan of Garrett Oliver and his beers. He is a lifelong fan of beer, who truly enjoys his work, his brewery, his neighborhood, and turning other people onto the power of great beer.

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

I do not, although I have recently joined the American Homebrewers Association.

5. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?

I have become a fan of a burger w/ bleu cheese + a hearty stout or chilled abbey double.


The Personal Side

1. What is your current day job?

I am an engineer at a hydraulics & pneumatics company.

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 either want to be a professional brewer or a travel writer (with an emphasis on beer)

3. Are you married? Children?

No and no

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

I enjoy riding my bicycle around Chicago, playing basketball, the drums, and doing improv.


Off The Beaten Path

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

Stout because of its ability to surprise.

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?

Daleside Morocco Ale.

I chose this beer on account of only having it once, and being entranced ever since. (that and I have not been able to find it in Chicago). It is flavor is firm, intriguingly spiced, with a gentle hop presence that is partnered with a malt bill that helps create a smooth taste that is similar to freshly melted caramel (and just as flavorful).

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 think it would be a rye stout = hardy, long lasting, enjoyable with burgers + medium rare steak.

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

Flight, super strength, the ability to shoot fire/lasers out of my hands, and the human torch thing looks great.

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

I once spent the better part of a weekend celebrating a wedding with some Spaniards in southern Spain. We went all over the town (the name of which escapes me), but I remember the night ending at an American army base bar with a lot of dancing to Elvis Pressley tunes.

6. What are your thoughts on bacon?

Sinfully fantastic.

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One thought on “Featured Beer Blogger: ETHAN RUSIN

  • Mike

    Nice to meet you Ethan.

    I feel like the Beer Wench keeps introducing me to people like I’m at a family event and I’m her awkward date.

    You practically grew up in my backyard, well not that close, but anytime I hear someone is from MN I think of my home, Fargo. I believe we have a lot in common when it comes to reasons for starting the blogs. To be a better writer and a better brewery while making great friends and contacts. Cheers!

    As for Schell’s, I actually went to a Brewmasters Dinner with Schell’s President Ted Marti last week. It was pretty fun. I had a chance to try more of their beer and learn more about them as a brewery and family. This years brew fest should be interesting indeed, being it is their 150th Anniversary. Ted was telling us there are some surprises planned. I may go, we could be in the middle of moving at that point. If not, I’ll be there!

    It was great to get a chance to hear more about you. I’ll be stopping by your blog soon!

    Mike’s Brew Review