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: TOM STREETER
CO-AUTHOR OF: HOPERATIVES
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
We moved to Houston when I was 13 and that’s where I think of as where I grew up. Before that I lived in Independence, M0 (twice), Midland, MI, Winston-Salem, NC, Asheville, NC (well before the beer boom, I assure you) and Kingsport, TN. I have memories of each of those places. And for the record, I’m not often accused of being grown up.
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
I drank beer. I was very good.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
I was probably 9 or 10, it would have been around 1972. My dad’s theory was that if there was a six-pack in the fridge and it was well-known that it was OK to have it it would demystify it. Then you wouldn’t be as likely to do stupid things just to sneak a beer. My mom really didn’t care for beer and my dad had a really bad stomach ulcer and was told not to drink it. The fact that there was beer in the house really was their follow-through on their theory. It worked.
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 think if was a Pabst Blue Ribbon. I was the youngest of three and my parents sat us down at the kitchen and explained essentially what I wrote above. They poured a little bit for each of us. I didn’t care for it. I was probably 11 or 12 before I routinely joined my brothers when we watched a movie on TV (with the requisite popcorn).
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 Trinity University in San Antonio for my freshman year, ran out of money fast and then went Stephen F. Austin State in Nacogdoches, TX for the rest. I was a Radio-TV major. I stayed in Nacogdoches to get an M.A. in Communication, then went to Athens, GA to start on a Ph.D at the University of Georgia. Finished the coursework, never wrote the dissertation. I paid for school by working in the dorms as an RA, and I was involved with the Residence Hall Association. That’s significant for my beer story because we would go to conferences all over the country and be introduced to regional beers we couldn’t get back home. And we always took Shiner with us. I think we also took Lone Star with us, but it was the 80’s. I blame “Urban Cowboy.” For so many things…
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 been at a bar on 6th Street in Austin sometime in the late-80’s. I already knew I liked beer with a bit more flavor (what Shiner now calls their Blonde was pretty much my go-to beer by then). But it was at this bar on 6th Street that I was able to get Pilsner Urquell on draft. Beer went to a whole new level with me then. I was mostly drinking imports the years I was in grad school. Jump ahead a few years and I’m back in Asheville, NC teaching at the university just as the beer explosion was starting. Highlands was brewing in the basement of Barley’s Brewpub and the local grocery store chain starts carrying Pete’s Wicked and Sam Adams. The imports weren’t nearly as interesting anymore.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
I really have to give a shout out to Barley’s and Highlands in Asheville. That’s where I really started appreciating styles,
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
Our first post dropped Dec. 31, 2007, but that was mostly a test to see that we had WordPress set up right. Our official launch date was the next day.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
We knew some folks who wrote wine and food blogs around town, but no one was doing beer. The local paper once actually had a beer columnist, but that was lost when the newspaper cut back on its personnel. I’m a history nut and it was obvious that there was a heck of a brewing history here, but no one was doing anything with us. We talked to our friends who were bloggers and they were amazingly encouraging. We couldn’t have done it without them.
3. Why did you chose the name of your blog?
Rock Bottom had used the name for a customer loyalty program over and above their mug club. It had been dead for quite a while when we were looking for a name. We discovered that they’d given up the domain name, so we registered it (and a couple of backups in case they objected). They never did, and our local Rock Bottom has been incredibly supportive of us.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog?
I want it to be both a celebration of and a resource for the Cincinnati Beer Culture. My wife, Carla, does an amazing job on the resource side of things, keeping up with what’s going on and who’s pouring what. It’s a lot of work that doesn’t look like it is. Myself and the rest of our contributors (we have two others) really need to pick up the slack on the celebration of the culture part.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
I’d lived in Cincinnati for 10 years when we started the blog. I know now that I didn’t know a damned thing about this place until we started doing this. Cincinnati is a great town. It has its issues, but who doesn’t? The people I’ve met and the things we’ve been able to see are just amazing. Meeting and interviewing Jim Koch and Greg Koch on the same weekend was pretty wild.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
In no order:
I mourn that Beer Dorks — isn’t publishing more.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
IPA, Porter, Rauchbier
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
This is an evil. evil question. IN NO ORDER: Three Floyds. Troegs. Founders.
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
Tough choice. We have two startups in town (Rivertown and Mount Carmel) and both are awesome undertakings it would be a priviledge to be a part of. Greg Hardman at Christian Moerlein is trying to do something I don’t think has ever been done – create true craft beer on the foundation of established brands, some of which were defunct. But since this is fantasy anyway, I’d like to bring back a local brewery that just recently went under: BarrelHouse. And I’d put it in the old Bavarian Brewery Building in Covington, KY. I’m only several millions dollars away from this dream…
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
I’ve made a few batches of beer. I’m strictly a beginner. They’ve all been drinkable. That’s a win in my book.
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)? If so, what are they?
I don’t have one, but we’re going to be starting Cicerone soon.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
A good IPA and barbeque, preferably brisket.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
Freelance webcast and digital media producer.
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’m largely doing it now, though if there were really no restrictions, I’d open the brewery I talked about above. After hiring the best people I could find on the business and brewing sides. After all, it’s not just an adventure, it’s a job.
3. Are you married? Children?
Married, no children.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
History. Politics. Yelling at the TV while criticizing people who do things I couldn’t do in a millions years … you know, sports fan.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
A dark, roasty Stout. Not for everyone, but comforting to those who like it.
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?
The beer I was smuggling of course. You’ve got to figure the selection would be pretty thin, otherwise. Isn’t this how they do it in Pennsylvania now?
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?
When one thinks of wenches, one thinks of Merrie Olde England, but I’d think of a winter warmer with lots of spice. And I know you do love your Belgian beer, so maybe a Belgian interpretation of an English Spiced Porter.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
You know how in comic books how the sound effects show up in special lettering when people do something that makes noise? I’d like to be able to make that happen in real life. No more “he who smelt it dealt it” and we’d always know exactly what douche canoe didn’t turn off his cellphone in a movie theater.
Call me Onomatopoeia Man!
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
Too many beers. Late at night. An overlook at Niagara Falls. Not a bathroom (or a cop) in sight. Do the math.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
It’s OK until you can get a good sausage.
SPECIAL THANKS TO TOM FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!