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: LARRY MCINTOSH
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
East Point, GA, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, St. Petersburg, FL, Alexandria, LA
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
Football, soccer, baseball, track, surfing, water skiing growing up. Mostly water skiing and soccer in college years. Now, mountain and road cycling, snow skiing, and living vicariously through my kids’ sports.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
I don’t recall. I remember sneaking sips as a kid in Atlanta (1960s). Carlings, Falstaff and such. My first clandestine whole beer consumption may have occurred in Ponte Vedra (1970s). I was 13.
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
There was this big, pro tennis tournament going on during the day at the country club. That evening, some of the surf rats I hung out with mentioned that the beverage people forgot to lock up a cooler with a few beers in it. We partook. I think it was Budweiser. We snagged the 3 or 4 beers left and went over to the golf course to drink them. No buzz, but some of the best and loudest burps we had ever produced. I’m sure we woke up the alligators in the lagoon.
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 test-drove Auburn for a couple of quarters. That didn’t quite work for me (or them). While back at home, helping my grades recover through intensive study at Louisiana College, I worked as a DJ at the only local FM rock station. That got me interested in communications.
A friend was at The University of Texas at Austin and suggested I look at their communications department. One visit to Austin was all it took. Fell in love with the town and the school had the stuff I was looking for.
My degree is in Radio-Television-Film. Activities while at UT included beer, water skiing, motorcycles, and hitting the live music venues. I mean, it was hard to resist a town where you could go to a club, pay a $3.00 cover, and see The Fabulous Thunderbirds and maybe that Stevie Ray Vaughn kid, too. Yeah.
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:
Did I mention I managed a liquor store my last year or so of college? The beer selection when I started consisted of Bud, Miller, Lite, Coors, Coors Light, Pearl and Lone Star. I slowly started building the selection by adding popular imports of the time (Guinness, Harp, Heineken, Becks, Carlsberg, Fosters, Corona, etc.). Once we had those in place and selling, we began adding the stuff no other stores carried.
Samuel Smith’s, Old Peculiar, Old Nick, Dortmunder, Pilsner Urquell.
The beer guys knew any time they brought a new beer into the market, I’d be willing to give it a shot. When we opened out second location, we had an eight-door cooler. I stocked that puppy full of imports and hard to find (in our region) American beers. Everything from Blatz and Hamm’s to Jax and Olympia.
Then we started seeing real craft beers pop up. Anchor Steam was one of the first “craft beers” we brought in. I found that the beer customers would almost always try the new stuff. Everyone liked to experiment. A trend we still see today out there in the Beer Nation. This was in the early to mid 80s. Not a moment, but a moment in time.
2. Have you had additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
I guess the second coming of craft beer for me was when Texas laws changed and brewpubs began sprouting up in Austin. That first wave was cool. I loved going to Waterloo Brewing, having a burger and a beer, and smelling the beer being brewed. Pretty much re-lit the fire for me. I started homebrewing around this time, too.
But, the latest version of my craft beer love affair began about ten years ago. I go to Durango on business regularly and really grew to love the beers from there – Steamworks, Ska, Carvers, Durango Brewing, Pagosa Brewing. I’m always comparing them with the excellent beers brewed here in Central Texas – Independence, Live Oak, 512, Uncle Billy’s, Real Ale, Freetail Brewing, and others. Now, we have even more little breweries ready to crank up here. Exciting times for a beer nerd like me.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
Just started both this year. The madhouselarry’s Blog talks some about beer, and some about my business, and some just plain random stuff. I started USABeerTrends to gather and deliver informal information regarding craft beer, the people who buy and drink it, and the folks who make it.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I was looking to do something different than other blogs. Whereas I read a number of blogs for their beer reviews or find out what’s being released, USABeerTrends is set up to deliver the opinions of others – to help us understand what the Beer Nation is thinking.
3. Why did you chose the name of your blog?
The URL was available. It’s that simple.
4. What are your personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
In the end, I wouldn’t mind monetizing it, though I don’t ever see it being a moneymaker. Maybe if it’ll pay for an occasional round of beer … Other than that, I’m hoping to help brewers understand better who their customers are and who potential customers might be, and maybe help the brewers make more informed decisions about what they are going to brew or what market they may next enter.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Free beer! That’s always cool. I think hooking up with a bunch of Twitter-beer geeks at GABF this year was most excellent. You “meet”, talk, and make friends with people from all over the country, and that’s pretty cool. Through blogging, I’ve met fellow beer buddies TheBeerWench, Hookonwinter, ChipperDave, BeerTownAustin, CraftAustin, TeecycleTim, BeerTodd, and others.
6. What are your top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
Hard to say. I enjoy Charlie Papazian’s stuff, Wenchie is always entertaining, Dave is loaded with Colorado brew info, Tim does good stuff with Beer Runner, Beer at 6512 keeps me in the Durango loop, BeerTownAustin is great with local Austin stuff, PJ always has something interesting to say (Starting a Brewery), and on and on.
1, What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
IPA, Porter, Stout.
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Right now, probably Oakshire, Left Hand, 512
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
Oskar Blues looks like a fun place; Ska Brewing has a great new facility and they have a great vibe; 512, Independence, Live Oak and Real Ale here in Central Texas each offer unique opportunities to learn; Dogfish Head is always pushing the envelope and does a great job of self promotion. Any of these would rock.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
Yes. Most interesting was a failure, an oaked chocolate porter. Not sure where it went haywire.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
I’m old and simple. Beer and pizza or a burger – that’s heaven for me. Doesn’t really matter the style.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I’m the Warden of The MAD House, a small advertising and design shop that concentrates on building brands that bring enjoyment to life. We like to help businesses that cater to our passions. So, water and mountain sports, resorts, CRAFT BREWING (Hell-lo!), cycling, food, blah, blah, woof, woof.
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 own bar on the beach in Tahiti because there is sun, surf, and the women don’t wear no brassieres.
3. Are you married? Children?
Yes, 26.5 years. A 17 y.o. son, and a 12 y.o. daughter.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Well, if you read my blogs, you’ll see I’m not much of a writer. I do enjoy mountain and road cycling, homebrewing, family, snow skiing, and really bad photography.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
IPA I’m bitter, but I smell good.
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?
Today’s choice (which would be different from yesterday’s or tomorrow’s) would be Great Divide’s 15th Anniversary Wood Aged Double IPA, if any were left.
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?
Having seen the Wench in action, it would have to be smooth, but in your face all at once. A session brew, I think, with the power to last, but complex enough to surprise with every sip. It would have to remain calm in a cab stuck in Denver traffic, and then not get over-carbonated downstairs at the Rock in the company of Sam Calagione. Say no more.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
First, I’d need to fly. Then the power to be invisible. Of course, the power to drink as much beer as I want while maintaining a blood alcohol level that is still legal would be cool.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
(Disclaimer. Of the list of things I showed my lawyer, these are the only two he’d let me talk about.)
As a kid, unintentionally jumped a tugboat wake in the middle of the night in a friend’s overpowered Boston Whaler. Three of us were buzzing along about 40 mph in the middle of Tampa Bay way too late at night when the horizon suddenly went dark. Next thing we knew we were airborne. Way airborne. Engine screaming, us screaming. The boat torqued over to the right in the air and landed on its side and almost went over. The kid on the right side got soaked. All of the stuff in the boat flew out. We looked back and realized we’d hit the huge wake from a tugboat that was cruising out to the Gulf. Now, this is the kind of stuff we would normally do during the daylight hours – on purpose. At least then you can gauge speed, wake height and such. Oh, and you know where the wake is. Good times.
Either that, or, as a 12 year old, trying to surf on 10 foot East Coast storm waves with a 5’4″ beater of a surfboard. Back then, a big day was chest high. These puppies were double overhead plus. I had no business being out there, got caught inside when a big set rolled in and got worked by 4 waves in row. Had an intimate conversation with God as I bounced across the bottom in darkness asking him to please turn the washing machine off. When I finally popped up, the set was done. A buddy who was wisely paddling in grabbed my raggedy ass, stuck me on the front of his board and helped me in. We just sat on the beach the rest of the day and watched Mother Ocean go off. Next day was chest high and glassy and I was back at it. Ahh, youth.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
Bacon tastes good. Pork chop tastes good. Bacon wrapped pork chop tastes real good. I like me some bacon.
SPECIAL THANKS TO LARRY FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!