Featured Beer Blogger: JOSH HARNEY


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!


The Brewfantatics are a group of 3 talented homebrewers on a mission to create 100 new home brewers by the end of 2010! They want to spread the word and educate people about the fun, exciting hobby of brewing beer while they pursue their own dream of opening a brewery.


Beer Blogger Interview

Full name: Josh Harney
Twitter handle: @thebrewfanatics
Name of blog:
Current location: Cincinnati (Dave and Josh)

Background “Snapshot”

1. Where did you grow up?

I lived in South Bend, Indiana, until I was 14 and then moved to Cincinnati

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

Mostly basketball.  In high school we had a good team, which made it fun.  Most of the guys went on to play in college, and one professionally, though I didn’t.

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

My first beer of my own? 18.  But I’d been sipping Pop’s beer since I was little.  I couldn’t understand why he liked that stuff but I kept thinking that if I kept trying it maybe I’d like it to, eventually.

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

In our home once we turned 18 years old our folks would let us have one beer in an evening under the following conditions: we drank  it with them, we weren’t in a sports season or academic club that prohibited it, and we weren’t driving anywhere that evening.  My 18th birthday was right in the middle of basketball season, so I had to wait until later in the spring to have that first one.  It was probably a Bud Light…Pop is a Bud man.

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 started off at Michigan State in the Fisheries & Wildlife program but what I studied was mostly hoops at the rec center, pool halls, and the [then] new Batman cartoon that was on TV every day.  When I could no longer hang with the increasing out of state tuition I was paying, I tranfered to Eastern Illinois University and finished my undergrad degree in Environmental Biology.  At both schools I was active in campus ministries seeking to strengthen the relationships students have with their families, friends, and with Christ.

At Eastern, a group of us started having a lot of fun finding practical ways to show people God’s love, with no strings attached.  We’d do things that didn’t take a lot of dough because we naturally were all broke, but we might go clean somebody’s bathroom for free, or head up to the gas station and wash car windows for free, or in the fall we’d get out into the residential neighborhoods and rake leavs for free.  It was a blast.  I also earned a Master of Science degree  in Industrial & Environmental Hygiene from the University of Cincinnati….industrial hygiene is an extra geeky field within the broader profession of occupational safety and risk management.

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.”

What was your first craft beer epiphany? Recall as many details about it as you can:

Although I’d been enjoying craft beer for some time, and brewing some too, I don’t think I had an epiphany until I read Garrett Oliver’s ‘The Brewmaster’s Table.’  The book is so lovingly written, and really exposed me to the wider world of international craft brews, that I didn’t want the book to end.  It really made me see the endless possibilities of beer flavor, texture…the whole sensory experience, plus the food pairing combinations presented by an ‘entrepreneurial’ craft brewing style.  Anyone who loves craft beer and loves to read should have that book in their library.

Beer Blog Background

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

Just over a month

2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Dave made me do it.  Ha!

Beer Talk

1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?

ESB, American pale ale, Dunkel

2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?

Fitger’s up in Duluth, Minnesota eh, Bell’s, Hofbrauhaus

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

Probably Dogfishhead.  Those guys look like they have a lot of fun plus it’s employee owned

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

Yes!  I made a saison that turned out really nice last summer, after I cultured up some yeast from a bottle of Saison du Pont.  Golden, a bit spicy, a shade funky, refreshing.  MMm!  Definitely will do that one again.

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?

Easy – ‘Grown Up’ ice cream floats.  Find some really good vanilla bean ice cream and make a float with an imperial stout like my own St. Peter’s Gate or Brooklyn Brewery’s seasonal Chocolate Stout.  It’s just plain naughty!  It’s a cinch to make and is an easy, but special, change of pace to serve for dessert when you have guests over.  Even if they say they don’t like beer, this is a great one to throw at them to challenge their concept of what beer can do for their palate.  Coffee lovers who say they don’t like beer will beg you for seconds, if they’re not laid out on the floor from chugging the imperial stout/vanilla ice cream.

The Personal Side

1. What is your current day job?

I am a full time Director of occupational safety & environmental health at a large 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?

Presuming my family’s financial needs would still be met, it would take me about 1.5 seconds to change and focus just on making beer that people love to enjoy in the brewpub that exists just in our minds at this point.

3. Are you married? Children?

Yep, married to the absolute best wife in the world, for 5 years.  God willing, we’ll start having kids this year.

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

I get what I like to call Nature Deficit Disorder pretty easily, so I like to spend time out in the woods.  Walking with my wife and the dog on trails.  Hunting.  Shooting.  Listening. I like putzing around in the vegetable garden, making sure the hop yard is doing well.  Low key stuff.

Off The Beaten Path

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

I think I’d be a trappist dubbel.  Rich, complex, but not everybody’s favorite.

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?

You raise a good point.  Everybody should probably have an answer to this in case it comes up.  Hopefully I’d be swift enough to think of some brew that’s only released about every ten years or so, to buy some time for the other Brewfanatics to put together a rescue plan for me.

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?

Wenchie, you know I’d make you something that makes you smile, although I’m surprised [though pleased] you’ve evolved from the Bud Light swilling High Street days in Columbus, at Buckeye National U.  I’m pretty confident I could whip you up a batch of saison with a Brett secondary that makes you swear the barnyard is still in the keg.  The special tweak though, would come from some sage or maybe even a small portion of some old lambic.

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

It would give my icon on Brewfanatics.com the voice of Chuck Norris

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

Are you kidding?  I have an advanced degree  in how to avoid risk. I’m not as bad as Ben Stiller in that movie with Jennifer Aniston where he knows the odds of contracting hepatitis from mishandled and undercooked veal or whatever, but I’m not exactly known as a risk taker.  I got nothing, sorry.  I mean, that whole thing with the grenade and the charging bull has been blown waaay out of proportion…

6. What are your thoughts on bacon?

All are pleasant.  A couple years ago when my pal Boo and I started our 24 hr. drive out to Wyoming for antelope hunting we decided to make a list of everything that tastes good with bacon, and then to start eating all of them.  Turns out there’s almost nothing that doesn’t taste good with bacon.  People need to eat more bacon and enjoy more good beer.  It’s okay to die a little bit overweight and be really happy.




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