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!
Today is a very special interview day, as my interviewee is celebrating his blog’s 1st birthday today! Very few blogs last longer than a month, let a lone a year. Karl and his team’s hard work has really paid off, as evidenced by successfully hitting the one year marker. So join with me in raising a glass of delicious craft beer in honor of the Guys Drinking Beer Anniversary!
INTRODUCING: KARL KLOCKARS
AUTHOF OF: GUYS DRINKING BEER
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
Wheaton, Illinois, about 35 miles west of Chicago.
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
“Had” is tough. “Tasted” probably goes back to when I was a kid, and hated it because I didn’t know better. (Also because I think Dad’s brand used to be Coors.)
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 was at a New Years party at a friend’s house when I was 15. We stole a can (one can!) of Miller Genuine Draft from a cooler in the garage and passed it around the four of us. It was predictably terrible but we didn’t know any better.
5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?
Loyola University Chicago and North Central College in Naperville. I basically lived at the radio station when I wasn’t in class or working.
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:
There’s been more than a few over the years, but the first real significant one, and the one that really led to this whole craft-beer-aficionado thing for me was probably finding Oberon. My wife is from Michigan and I couldn’t figure out what the big deal about it was. However, I sat down at a bar with a few bottles of it one afternoon while watching a baseball game (White Sox vs. Tigers, most likely) and my brain finally wrapped around the appeal. Now I spend a considerable portion of my springtime figuring out where and when the best “first Oberon of the year” moment will present itself.
2. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
Oh, man. The epiphanies don’t really stop, do they? I’ve been so focused on American craft beers for so long that it took me forever to start figuring out the appeal Belgians (I know this is pretty bass-ackwards but it’s just how I work), but I just finally broke through that barrier after a recent night at the Hopleaf.
IPAs took a while to get used to but after an afternoon of a half-dozen Goose Island IPAs I finally had my palate readjusted to ‘em. There’s an epiphany and a “holy shit” moment for almost every style.
On an non-beer front, I think I’m finally figuring out what the deal with gin is. Always hated it until recently. Now I’m up to tolerating it.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
It’ll be a year for GDB on April 1st. I’ve been writing about beer, dining, food, nightlife, culture, travel and all other things Chicago for a few years now for a number of online and print publications around town, though.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
Ryan, Andrew and I were sitting down one evening, enjoying any number of fine craft beverages. They were ones, if I remember correctly, that Ryan had brought back from a work trip to Michigan that we couldn’t otherwise get in Illinois. Beers from Shorts, a Nemesis from Founders, a Batch 9000 from Bells and the like. One of us said something to the effect of, “Ryan, you should really start a blog about this stuff.” The rest, as they say, is history.
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
Here’s basically how it went: There was an email string about 8 dozen emails long where the three of us were throwing around possible names, including all sorts of clever plays on beer styles and how it’d relate to Chicago and all that jazz. I was at work at the time and without thinking (and with more than a little frustration with the creative process) wrote something like “We should just call it ‘Guys Who Like Beer and Drink Beer And Write About Beer That They Drink’ or something.”
And so it began.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
My favorite part of having all these reviews online is being able to go back and see what I thought about a beer months in the past, and comparing to what I think of it now, what I think of how it’s aged, if I even like it any more. If I sat and just took notes on them without publishing them anywhere, I don’t think it’d be the same thing. I find myself being surprised by my own thoughts after going back and re-reading what I wrote from months before and seeing how it lined up or changed over time.
As for what to achieve, I won’t rest until I get that interview with President Obama about his homebrewing gear.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Not necessarily a direct result of being a beer blogger, but related – I got the chance to talk to Sam Calagione and Anat Baron, respectively of Dogfish Head and Beer Wars, for the podcast series I produce. That was fun.
What’s been bigger has been the opportunity to help affect change in the Illinois legislature with our “Save the Craft” campaign. It’s been amazing to see how this little plan snowballed with just a few posts and emails into something that’s gotten a ton of press coverage and blogosphere support. Beyond that, making connections with all the people that have joined us with “Save the Craft” has been priceless.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
Oh, man. Beeriety is a great one. Beernews.org has been a huge help. I’m really digging There’s a Year In My Beer as well. There’s so many out there, tho.
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
Sours are still king for me, and have been for a while now. Before that I was all about the DIPAs (Double Crooked Tree in particular). Finally, I’ll include one style I love but don’t see nearly enough of: Chile/spicy beers. Beers like Rogue’s Chipotle Ale, Ancho-chile porters, New Holland’s Mole Ocho. Love those.
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Three is tough. Top ten would probably be easier, but I’ll play along.
Let’s go with Shorts, Founders, New Glarus. Ask me again in a week and I’ll probably come up with a completely different list.
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
We’ve covered John Niedemeyer when he was with Right Brain and doing some ridiculously inventive (honey basil beer, asparagus beer, etc.) and interesting stuff. He’s working on opening a new venture in Traverse City that I’d love to assist with.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
Nope. If and when I ever get a garage and a few hundred bucks burning a hole in my pocket, though, it’s on.
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?
There’s a ton out there, but the one that’s coming to mind first and foremost? Nothing pairs with a good beer like a good burger, and a Spotted Cow paired with a burger from Fred’s in Burlington, Wisconsin is about as close to a personal nirvana as I can imagine.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I recently left my job as a radio producer with a major Chicago radio station to focus on freelancing and seeing what else is out there in the world. So, if anyone’s hiring…
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?
If someone would throw a ton of money at me to basically drive around from brewery to brewery and document it in some way, shape or form ( all while visiting national parks, baseball games, restaurants and the like), that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
3. Are you married? Children?
Married yes, kids no.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
Continuing to support my wife’s growing addiction to video games.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
I’m mostly Swedish and Finnish so I’ll start by making myself a Sahti. I’m part German so let’s fortify that with a Hefeweissen, and then the Irish in me demands some stout presence.
So basically, a Stou-ti-weiss.
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?
Easy question: The Brewdog “End of History.” First, they’d go broke trying to buy it. Second, I’d be so far gone from the 55% ABV I wouldn’t even notice being made dead.
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?
Sounds like it’d be a nicely carbonated citrus-y saison, with a little bite of pepper and a sour kick at the end. Kinda like a liquid Sweettart.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
As someone who spent a ridiculous amount of time playing role playing games as a teenager, this is another gimme: Invisibility and intangibility.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
I don’t think the statute of limitations are up on this one yet.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
I’m glad that the culinary world has moved on from its collective freakout over it. The world doesn’t need bacon air fresheners and bacon breathmints and baconnaise. Just eat the stuff.
SPECIAL THANKS TO KARL FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to your blog!