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Featured Beer Tweeter: MARK SKARZYNSKI

Featured Beer Tweeter: MARK SKARZYNSKI


The Beer Tweeter Interview Series

Beer bloggers are not the only people using social media to share their passion for and knowledge of craft beer. Twitter is one of the most important tools in today’s craft beer industry. Beer tweeters all over the world are influencing and impacting the way people interact with and experience craft beer. The Beer Wench has embarked upon a mission to interview as many beer tweeters that she can — from all over the world.

Are you a beer tweeter? Do you want to share your story? Send me an email!



Twitter handle: @markskar

Current location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire


Background “Snapshot”

1. Where did you grow up?

Wethersfield, CT (near the South End of Hartford)

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

I was pretty active growing up, always involved in whatever sports were going on during whatever season (baseball, soccer, etc.), but year-round I was a swimmer, on various teams in town and all over the state from ages 6 to 16.

Eventually I got burned out by the three-hour drowning sessions called “practice”, and left the team halfway through high school to do pole vaulting for the track team, which was a lot of fun. I really miss having the physical strength and sense of immortality one needs to be a good pole vaulter—doubt I’ll ever be able to do it again, but I had a lot of fun and got pretty good at it back then.

I also started skiing pretty young, and did a lot of mountain biking over the college years. Still love to ski when I can find the time, but don’t get to go nearly enough. Planning on learning to surf next summer—moving to a house a block away from the beach!

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

I’m sure somewhere in here there’s a story of my dad giving me a sip of beer on a fishing trip when I was 8 or 9, but I can’t clearly remember. I do, however, remember getting caught drinking at a VERY young age. My poor mother was mortified. I’ll leave it at that, so as to not risk any future employers seeing what a rotten kid I was. ;-)

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’m sure what my dad gave me was a sip of Buttweiper (sp?!) or something similar. I thought it tasted awful as a kid, and as my palate grew it still tasted awful. How a rice beer came to be known as the Great American Lager is still a mystery to me.

5. Where, if applicable, did you go to college? What did you study? What additional activities, organizations, sports did you partake in during college?

University of Connecticut, double major in English and Journalism, with a focus in future under-employment.

I spent a lot of time occupying various administration buildings…smoking Thai-stick, breaking into the ROTC…(kidding—that’s a Big Lebowski quote, in case anyone reading this isn’t familiar with the movie—and if you’re not, I HIGHLY recommend it).

No sports, lots of parties and other related shenanigans. Good times.


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. Have you have additional craft beer epiphanies since the first? Detail as many of them as you wish.

It was at one of the first Grateful Dead shows I went to–Boston 1993, if I remember correctly. Some hippie kid was walking around yelling, “Anchor, Sierra, Anchor, Sierra, two for five…”, and of course those guys didn’t care how old their customers were.

So, I grabbed a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and instantly loved it—I was absolutely floored by the flavor. I’ve been a full-fledged hop head ever since. I learned then that beer could be savored and enjoyed—that I didn’t need to drink a ton of beer just for the purpose of getting drunk (as underage, dumb kids are wont to do).

This isn’t to say I didn’t keep getting drunk with my friends—but I did realize that good beer was worth seeking out and enjoying—not just pounding to get fall-down drunk like most of the kids my age were doing.

There were countless epiphanies between then and now, and as the years went on I was constantly in search of new styles—many of which I came to love just as much as the hop bombs that stoked my early interest in craft beer. Styles like German doppelbocks, English- & American-style barleywines, and Russian Imperial Stouts come to mind.

But the biggest change came just a few years ago when I first started homebrewing. Having an appreciation for the science of brewing changed my outlook on beer completely. Understanding how different styles of yeast can be used to create distinctive flavors, and how different combinations of malts and hops could be used in nearly infinitely different combinations, opened up a world of unlimited potential, and I keep searching for the “next greatest beer ever”.

After I started brewing I began to notice that a few beers I loved for a long time didn’t even measure up to what I could brew myself, and some styles I didn’t previously like (the myriad of Belgian styles, for example) were suddenly things I was seeking out, to taste and experience. I found a great craft beer community on which fed into this newfound desire to try everything (haven’t been on the forums much lately, but I learned so much there).

There are so many great breweries and beers out there right now in the US, and it seems like things keep getting better every day. It is a great time to be a beer enthusiast in America—perhaps the best time ever. With over 1,500 craft breweries in the US today, my hunt for that “next greatest beer ever” shall no doubt continue for a long time.


Beer Talk

1. What are your top 3 favorite beer styles?

American Barleywine, Double IPA, Russian Imperial Stout

2. What are your top 3 favorite breweries?

Smuttynose/The Portsmouth Brewery (same owner), Stone Brewing Co., and Dogfish Head.

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

The Portsmouth Brewery. Three words: KATE THE GREAT! I would so steal that recipe (just kidding Tod, if you happen to read this, and I happen to someday work there…)

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

Yes, homebrewer for about four years. I’ve made some great IPA’s, DIPA’s, Barleywines, and RIS’s. I’ve brewed a few other styles, but the aforementioned styles are what I mostly stick to since I know I can have good to great results fairly consistently—and they’re my favorite styles to drink.

The most unique brew I ever tried to make was an Elderberry Stout—but I think I overdid the elderberries. The flavor was rough—a bit acrid. But I think it had some medicinal effects (elderberries are used holistically to prevent and cure the common cold and the flu—and I think the brew actually helped me get better more quickly when I got sick one time). But like I said, the flavor was ROUGH—elderberries not recommended in large doses.

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?

Smuttynose Imperial Stout with Filet Mignon. *drool* But I’d pair just about anything with a good RIS. Just seems like an all-around meal/desert brew to me.

7. What are you top 3 favorite beer blogs/beer websites?

BeerAdvocate, HomeBrewTalk and, of course, Drink With The Wench (blatant kissing up here or what?!)


The Personal Side

1. What is your current day job?

Management-level position in the hotel development business (vague, I know, but I’d prefer to leave it there…)

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?

Start my own brewery, complete with pub and lodging accommodations. No doubt about it.

3. Are you married? Children?

Happily married for just over two years. Adoptive father of an adorable Short Dog (that’s his name—Chihuahua/Min-Pin mix), and two ridiculously weird cats named Smokey and Zooey. No human children at this time.

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

Does being a work-a-holic qualify as a hobby? Outside of work and homebrewing I find I don’t have much time—at least not time that needn’t be spent with my wonderful wife. We love good tv and movies, long walks in the park, pretty sunsets—you know, that usual romantic junk.


Off The Beaten Path

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

I would be an insanely hopped Double IPA. Pale, light, unassuming at first glance. Then, upon further inspection, fierce, bitter, and IN YOUR FACE!

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?

I would choose a warm, skunky, spoiled, light-struck, 20-year old Rolling Rock (or similar awful adjunct lager in a green bottle). After something that awful, I imagine I would welcome death with open arms.

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?

Hmmm…this sounds like a question begging for a flirtatious answer—but alas, I’m happily married, and, moreover, I prefer to keep my balls firmly attached to my body should my wife read this…

At any rate, I don’t know enough about you to give as good an answer as Alex P. Davis did on this one, but given what I do know, it would have to be something spicy and wild—some kind of brett tripel perhaps?

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

I think I’d rather be a super villain, like Lex Luthor or something (hey, he was just as bald as I am!). Nothing beer-related here, I just want to rule the world. Is that so wrong?

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

Good lord, there are so many things I couldn’t possibly say without getting into trouble on this. Soooo tempted to say something like “marrying a sassy redhead”, but I’m not gonna say that. Oh crap, I just did!

(Just kidding, my love, if you should happen to be reading this—I love you with all my heart and I couldn’t live without you! )

6. What are your thoughts on bacon?

Blech. I don’t eat pork, and especially not bacon. The smell alone is enough to make me want to vomit. Everyone I know loves to harass me about it. The conversations usually go like that scene in Pulp Fiction:

Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don’t eat dog either.

It’s not a religious thing, or even a vegetarian thing. I worked at a Nathan’s Hot Dog fast food joint when I was 15 and was allowed to eat all I wanted while I worked. I ate so many hot dogs and bacon-covered items over a one-year period that I got so sick of the greasy, salty meat that I felt I had to swear off pig-related food items for good, and I haven’t intentionally eaten pork or bacon in over 18 years (though over the years it did manage to sneak its way into a few meals unbeknownst to me until after I ate it).



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One Response to “Featured Beer Tweeter: MARK SKARZYNSKI”

  • Lost December 18th, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    “warm, skunky, spoiled, light-struck, 20-year old Rolling Rock” LOL. Nice.

    Great rant on pork; any pulp fiction quote is typically golden.

    I too married a redhead (mine is more fiery than sassy).

    Good interview. I enjoyed.


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