Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview Series: Meet the Geeks: Erik Knollenberg / @epeep

I first met Erik on Twitter, as we started to discuss craftbeer and places to go around town (like Produce Row Cafe). Recently,  Erik joined a group of us #pdxbeergeeks at Plew's Brews for an impromptu meetup. I'm blown away at the depth of knowledge that he holds on craft beer, and his enthusiasm for the community is equally as impressive. I hope that all the #pdxbeergeeks will give a warm welcome to Erik - don't hesitate to talk history of craft beer with this geek - a little time will reveal the true stores of information that have been built up by the true passion for craft beer that Erik holds. Who else but a true beer geek would dedicate their Master's program projects to the history & industry of US craft beer?

Name: Erik

Hometown: Hmmm... moved around a bit growing up, however, the mitten (yep, Michigan!) will always be “home” :D.

Favorite Beer: Southern Tier's Imperial crème brûlée stout!!! The vanilla is so strong that the smell alone is tasty :). The first time I had this I, upon tasting it, immediately returned to the store and bought out their remaining supply!

Favorite Beer Haunt:
Bailey's Taproom, EastBurn, and Plew's Brews (which I love as it combines two of my favorite things –- craft beer & reggae!!!). I also enjoyed (and worked at) the Brickskeller, a craft beer Mecca in Washington, DC... however, after 50+ years, it is no more :(.

What was the first craft brew you ever tried? What did you think?
It was likely something by Bell's... #memories :). I was lucky in that I started with craft beer and thus stuck with it! Never really understood why everyone else enjoyed drinking so much water (Bud, Miller, etc.), though :D.

Do you homebrew? If yes, favorite homebrew to date:
Not just yet, but I'm hoping to try. I'm also very open to helping others; learn by doing is the way to go!

How’d you hear about the pdxbeergeeks?
Gotta thank Twitter and #pdxbeergeeks for that :)!

What does being a beer geek mean to you?
It means being part of a great and growing community; sharing an interest, a passion; savoring something handcrafted for pure enjoyment! This quote also sums things up nicely: “I love that craft beer is such a social thing – everyone wants to talk, trade, share, and drink beer together.  There are no ‘experts’ and while palates might differ in experience, none are wrong.”

If you could change one thing about beer culture in the US, what would it be?
I think education is key. The fact that there were less than 100 breweries in 1980 compared to the 1,700+ (and growing!) we have now is evidence that people enjoy high quality, full-flavored beer. The more one knows about what they're drinking, the more interested and invested they're likely to become... leading to even more growth and thus more tasty craft beer :).

What do you love about Portland’s Craft Beer scene?
I love the variety (in both flavors & styles), that there's almost always something new to try, and, most importantly, the fact that it's often brewed but a few yards from where you're drinking it! Bottled craft beer is indeed tasty, but nothing beats a freshly brewed craft beer. In addition, I love that the brewers aren't simply selling a product; while numbers are important, it's more about the community and connecting with consumers. I also love that there's an entire month dedicated to craft beer... not to mention the numerous events/festivals/etc. that take place throughout the year!

Where can we find you on the web?
On Twitter @epeep and on LinkedIn –- I'm finishing up my MBA/Marketing program and am in search of opportunities. Oh yes, and I have craft beer research and writing experience. Indeed, I have studied the industry!