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: MIKE WINN
CO-HOST OF: BEER NATION
Beer Blogger Interview
Full name: Michael Winn
Name of blog: Beer Nation
Current location: Brooklyn, New York
1. Where did you grow up?
Westchester County, New York
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
I played tennis and soccer in high school, and also raced for our school’s ski team. In college, I set aside conventional sport and joined my school’s ultimate frisbee team. Since college, I’ve re-found my love for soccer and play in numerous recreational leagues around New York City.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
I was 14 years old.
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
Growing up, I used to spend summers with my family in the Dominican Republic. When I was 14 years old, and about to enter 10th grade, I ordered my first beer at a place called Discoteca Genesis. It was a refrigerated bottle of Presidente poured into a frosty mug. There’s only one thing I can recall about that beer: it was exceptionally cold.
5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?
Although I graduated with a degree in European History from Union College, I find that piece of information totally inapplicable. Equally inapplicable is the fact that I was heavily involved in student government while at Union College, climbing all the way to the prestigious position of president of the student body. More applicable is my participation in theater and improvisational comedy. Union College is also the place where Seth and I met; I was his RA sophomore year.
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 was introduced to craft beer during my senior year of college. Our campus bar served beers from Saratoga–both their Pale Ale and their Black & Tan–and I was a regular customer. But, while these Saratoga brews certainly opened my mind to the concept of craft beer, it wasn’t until I got my first taste of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that really got hooked. I was hanging out with my more cultured friend, Julian, when he brought me a bottle of Sierra Nevada. He called it “fancy beer.” My first sip of Sierra Nevada tasted so different than anything I’d ever imbibed before. That floral hoppiness, which I’ve since grown accustomed to, was so new to me. I instantly wanted more.
2. Have you had additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
My first taste of Russian River’s Pliny the Elder comes to mind. I was traveling through California with Seth, and we dragged our significant others to Toronado in Lower Haight, San Francisco. Both of us were unable to escape the urge to order a Pliny, a beer we had heard so much about but had never had the opportunity to try. The most impressive thing about that first Pliny was its balance and smoothness. I had never tasted such a hoppy beer that totally avoided any unsettling bitterness.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
Seth and I have been running Beer Nation for just over a year.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
As craft beer lovers, Seth and I were inspired by the speed at which the craft beer revolution was progressing here in New York. In particular, we were impressed by the fact that even “normal” bars were now selling at least one or two craft beers.
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
We wanted the name of our show and website to convey the magnitude of the beer revolution occurring in this country. In our humble opinion, this country’s entire beer culture has been turned on its head in the last 15 years, and we wanted our show and website to help guide people through those changes.
4. What are your personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
Honestly, we didn’t have many goals going into the Beer Nation project other than to create a show and website we were proud of. Once we created our pilot, however, we truly believed we were onto something good, and we wanted to share our content with as many people as possible, both craft beer aficionados and virgins.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Well, in three weeks we’ll be heading to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, and have been granted media passes for the entire, multi-day event. I imagine that will be the coolest thing that’s happened to us as result of creating Beer Nation.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
Beer Advocate, The Lagerheads (Washington City Paper), and Drink with the Wench (obviously!)
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
Imperial/Double IPA, Saison, Baltic Porter
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Russian River, Captain Lawrence, Sierra Nevada
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
Russian River. Working in Sonoma County and serving the product of my labor to patrons of the brewpub sounds like a dream.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
The results of my few endeavors into homebrewing serve as certain proof that I should never be considered a homebrewer.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
None as of now.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
Imperial stout and pork chops. I don’t know why, but the creaminess of a strong stout matches perfectly with a juicy pork chop.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I used to cherish the opportunity to tell unprepared strangers that I was—despite my grungy appearance—a corporate litigator. Thankfully, I now work in the non-profit world, but I’m still an attorney.
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 can honestly say that I am very happy with my career and would not change a thing.
3. Are you married? Children?
After 7 years together, my girlfriend and I recently made it official – and registered with her employer as “domestic partners” (so I could gain access to her sweet health insurance benefits). We’re taking it step by step.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
I’m a pretty big music fan, and I try to see live music when I get the chance. I’m also a huge soccer fan; both as a spectator and a player.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be and why?
A California Common because, although I consider myself to be a unique person, I’m pretty easy to deal with.
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?
Russian River Pliny the Elder. It’s just good. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
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?
Easy. I would undoubtedly brew a dunkel weisse.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I’ve always wanted the power to avoid uncomfortable conversation. With that superpower, I’d be indestructible.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
One time when I was in high school I ran after a basketball that had run astray and, because it was dark, ended up falling off a 10 foot cliff. It sucked, but I survived.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
My thoughts about bacon are generally graphic, lurid, and —in all honesty— disconcerting to most level headed adults. I’d rather not memorialize those thoughts on your blog.
SPECIAL THANKS TO MIKE FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!