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: CHRIS FLEISHER
AUTHOR OF: BREWS REPORTER
Beer Blogger Interview
1. Where did you grow up?
2. What sports if any did you play growing up, through college and beyond?
As a kid, pretty much every rec league sport. In high school, it was football, track and soccer. I’m now a proud member of team “Blue Steel” in an adult soccer league.
3. How old were you when you had your first beer?
4. If you can recall, what is the story of your first beer? Where did you have it? What style and brand was it?
A can of Coors Light my friend, Adam, and I stole from my step-father’s stash. We went into my neighbor’s backyard and drank it while hiding in the bushes.
5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?
Undergrad — James Madison University where I studied English and Anthropology. Grad School at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. At JMU, I did a lot of stuff outside of class — coached youth soccer, played pickup soccer, president of Sigma Tau Delta (English honors society) and worked with a non-profit that helped Mexican immigrants transition to the community. At Columbia, I didn’t do a lot outside of school except smoke a lot of Bali Shag and drink beer.
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 was an oatmeal stout at Two Rows, a now closed brewpub in Houston, TX., in August 1999. I’d just graduated college and was three days away from teaching my first class as part of the Teach For America program. It’d been a rough summer and I was scared to face a room full of middle schoolers. I’d been developing a taste for craft beer, but hadn’t had anything truly revelatory until that beer. Probably more about the moment than anything — context matters so much when tasting food — but there are few beers I’ve enjoyed more.
2. Have you had additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish:
Attending the Saturday tours at St. Arnold were pretty great. The brewer, Brock, would conduct them and he had such a passion for what he was doing. Many more epiphanies have come while homebrewing — getting to know the ingredients that cause flavors like caramel, toffee, melon, grapefruit, pine, etc.
Beer Blog Background
1. How long have you been writing your beer blog?
Since November 2007.
2. What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I’d been homebrewing for several years and finally felt competent enough to write about it. Plus, I’m a journalist, which means when I’m not reporting and writing something, I’m thinking about reporting and writing something.
3. Why did you choose the name of your blog?
It was a nice play on words and hinted at my background.
4. What are you personal goals for your blog? What do you hope to achieve with it?
I’m actually setting benchmarks for traffic now, and would eventually like to monetize it, but am treating it now as a creative outlet. I love doing journalism. I learn so much about things I’d ordinarily never consider. Doing this blog has given me a deeper appreciation of the craft. I’m also using the reviews to prepare for the BJCP exam.
5. What is one of the coolest things that happened to you as a result of being a beer blogger?
Nothing really. The owner of my local beer store recognizes me. But then, I’m a good customer.
6. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?
- Craftbeer.com (So much great information on this site)
- PintsandPanels.com (a fun blog, and Emily Sauter is cool to drink with)
- vthomebrewguru.com (Another friend’s site. He runs a homebrew store and knew Greg Noonan. He also lectures on beer and homebrewing.)
1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?
Changes week to week, but right now, I’d say Czech pilsner, Doppelbock and Belgian dubbel.
2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?
Impossible, so I’ll just give you the top three that I’ve actually visited — The Alchemist (Waterbury, Vt.), Brooklyn Brewery and Saint Arnold. All three make outstanding beer, but that’s not why they’re my favorite. I fully believe that context matters. Where you are tasting a beer, your mood and the company you keep affects your perception of a beer. Saint Arnold was my first “favorite” brewery, my local go-to-happytown place when I was living in Houston. Brooklyn is where my wife and I went on some of our first dates and really got to know each other. The Alchemist has a great laid-back vibe and is my favorite place to visit since we moved to New England.
3. If you could work with or for any one brewery, which one would it be and why?
Full Sail. It’s employee-owned, environmentally and socially conscious and located in a beautiful part of the country. Plus, they brew great beer.
4. Are you a homebrewer? If yes, what is the most unique and interesting beer recipes you’ve brewed as a homebrewer?
Yes. Most unique recipe would probably be a 9.5% Saison that had been spiced with white pepper, seeds of paradise and cardamom. Not all that radical, but the cardamom was interesting. (I wouldn’t advise it, though.)
5. Do you have any beer certifications (BJCP, Cicerone, Siebel, American Brewers Guild)?? If so, what are they?
Nope, though I’m scheduled to take the BJCP test in November.
6. What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
I just had a Belgian Dubbel with Flemish Style Carbonade, based on a recipe I found in Zymurgy. Incredible.
The Personal Side
1. What is your current day job?
I cover the business beat for a daily newspaper in New Hampshire.
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 pay and benefits also were no obstacle, I’d like to be an assistant brewer at a nano. Never the head brewer — there’s always somebody smarter to learn from.
3. Are you married? Children?
Yes on both. I have a lovely beer-geek wife and 11 month old son.
4. Outside of beer and writing, what are some of your other hobbies?
I play soccer in an indoor league, run the occasional 5K, make embarrassing movies of my kid using iMovie.
Off The Beaten Path
1. If you were a style of beer, what style would be an why?
Definitely a lager, and more specifically, a doppelbock. I’m pretty slow and deliberate with things. Understated and usually try to keep a level head, but I don’t mess around when it’s game time.
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?
My own “Lights Out Barleywine.” It’s been aging a year now and tastes damn good, probably even more so because I know how hard I worked to brew 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?
A double IPA, dry-hopped with West Coast hops and tarted up with Brett.
4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Being able to heal fast, like Wolverine. I’ve been hurt a lot playing sports. It’s no fun.
5. What is one of the craziest things you have ever done and lived to tell the story?
Taught 6th grade.
6. What are your thoughts on bacon?
I don’t think on bacon. I consume.
SPECIAL THANKS TO CHRIS FOR AN AWESOME INTERVIEW!