Monday, January 23, 2012

Interview Series: Meet the Geek: Ashley V Routson, aka The Beer Wench

The Beer Wench aka Ashley V Routson
Name: Ashley V Routson

I am a gypsy by nature, so my “hometown” changes frequently. At the moment, I live in Berkeley, CA.

Favorite Beer:
This is quite possibly the most challenging question for a beer geek. I almost always say Orval, when asked this question -- although, another common answer would be “the beer in my glass” (easiest cop-out ever).

When I interviewed Adam Avery, I asked him this same question. He said something to the extent of “My favorite beer is my beer, and any brewer who says otherwise, should probably start brewing others' beers.” In the same spirit, I would have to say the Bison Brewing’s Saison de Wench is my favorite beer of the moment, because she is my pride and joy.

Favorite Beer Haunt:
I have moved over a dozen times and traveled to several states in the past 4 years so, needless to say, I have many a favorite beer haunt in many cities. If I could only visit one bar in each of the following cities, these places top my list (based on past experiences):
  • New York, NY: Blind Tiger
  • Chicago, IL: Delilah’s
  • Columbus, OH: Bodega
  • Cleveland, OH: Buckeye Beer Engine
  • Grand Rapids, MI: Hopcat
  • Milwaukee, WI: Sugar Maple
  • Orlando, FL: Red Light, Red Light
  • New Orleans, LA: Snake & Jakes (okay, not a beer bar AT ALL... but one of the best dive bars on this planet)
  • Austin, TX: The Draught House
  • Denver, CO: Falling Rock
  • Los Angeles, CA: Blue Palms Brew House
  • San Diego, CA: Churchill’s
  • San Francisco, CA: Toronado
  • Oakland, CA: Beer Revolution
  • Portland, OR: Horse Brass
  • Seattle, WA: Brouwer’s Cafe

What was the first craft brew you ever tried? What did you think? Well, I suppose it depends. Technically, my first craft beer was probably Sam Adams Boston Lager, since that was the beer my mother drank when I was a kid. But my memory of it isn’t really strong, so I don’t think it counts.

I grew up near the Catskill mountains in New York State. We were a very active family, and loved to go hiking at Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Mountain. After a long day of hiking in the summer sun, my mother and father used to reward themselves by hitting up a local brewpub called The Gilded Otter. They would let my sister and I sip on the beers that they got. The one that always stood out the most was a lager brewed with fresh blue berries. It was very cloudy and natural lavender in color with real blueberry pulp and skin floating in the beer.

As far as beer epiphanies go, I often site Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch and Bell’s Two-Hearted as the two turning point beers that turned me into a craft beer drinker. As a wine geek, Midas Touch really hit home. It was like a tawny port, but still a beer. Absolutely mind blowing. And Two-Hearted was my very first IPA... and a girl never forgets her first IPA.

Do you homebrew? If yes, favorite homebrew to date:
I am kind of lame because I’ve never actually finished my own homebrew batch, from start to finish. I love helping my friends homebrew, but I travel, work and play way too much to be a serious homebrewer. That, and I work in the industry, which means I get to play “big kid brewer” from time to time. Best beer I’ve brewed to date is Saison de Wench, a Belgian farmhouse brewed with botanicals.

How’d you hear about the pdxbeergeeks?
Learned about the rockstar crew from pdxbeergeeks just before the 2011 Beer Bloggers Conference in Portland! The lovely Emily has become of of my greatest confidants and friends since!!!

What does being a beer geek mean to you?
Being a beer geek means not being a beer snob. It means being an evangelist, constantly spreading the good word about craft beer -- and not being an arrogant douchebag who makes craft beer an exclusive, members- only club that is intimidating and inapproachable. It's about loving beer, and the people who make it.

Craft beer is my life. It is my work, it is my play, it is my love. Without it, I would cease to exist.

If you could change one thing about beer culture in the US, what would it be?
Honestly? I would put an end to douchbaggery. I mean, I wish more people would drink craft beer, we all do. But at least the ignorant people swilling down mass-produced, yellow fizzy corporate lagers aren’t as bad as the craft beer douchbags. Honestly, I view them as cancer cells in our industry. In scarcity, they can be targeted and eliminated. But in clusters, they can do some serious damage. There is just no room in this industry for negativity, especially from the arrogant and uneducated. I view these douchebags as cancerous cells. We need to eliminate them before they become a cluster and do serious damage.

What do you love about Portland’s Craft Beer scene?
  Where do I begin? My only love sprung from my only hate. Only six months ago, I found myself purchasing two voodoo dolls in preparation for my first trip to Portland. One was called The Gladiator, to give me strength to fight, and the other was the Equalizer, to avenge the wrong against me. Needless to say, I hated Portland even before I had ever visited.

Upon visiting, I quickly realized that it would be impossible to hate it, but I never once thought that I would fall in love with it. So much so, that I dream about living there.

I love Portland’s passion, although be it quirky, awkward and slightly delusional at times. I love its people. I love its beer. I love its food. And because of Portland, I finally know what it’s like to truly love another human, and be loved in return.

Weather sucks, but hey, there are worse things in life than rain.

Where can we find you on the web?

Drink With The Wench
Beer Mixology