Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interview Series : Meet the Geek : Erika Huston

Erika Houston of Saraveza fame.
Name: Erika Huston, Beertender at Saraveza

Hometown: I was born in Eugene, OR and when I was 8-years-old my family moved to Veneta, OR (one mile from the Oregon Country Fairgrounds) and I moved to Beervana in 1993. I fondly refer to myself as a “Willamette Valley Girl”.

Favorite Beer: This is a very loaded question for me. I do not discriminate against any style of beer. I try to approach every new beer that I taste with a sense of wonder and diplomacy. The other reason this question is complicated for me is that every beer is linked to an experience. I guess I’d have to say that my favorite beer that I’ve had to date is the St. Lamvinus in Cantillon’s tasting room. I remember feeling that beer with all of my senses. Drinking a beer where it is actually made tends to really accentuate the experience for me.

Favorite Beer Haunt: I have many places that I enjoy drinking beer. I would prefer to answer the question what is your favorite scenario for drinking beer? I basically love to drink beer anywhere as long as I’m with friends and fellow-appreciators. I also very much enjoy turning anyone who considers themselves a “non-appreciator” on to a brew that matches their taste.

What was the first craft brew you ever tried? What did you think? Wow. I’m digging into the memory banks for this one. I think it was most likely a Pyramid Apricot Ale at the Waterfront Blues Festival that really got me excited about drinking beer. I remember thinking “This is beer?” because my comparisons were Blitz in a bottle and my dad’s Hamm’s and Old Milwaukie. I didn’t realize that it could actually taste like food and would actually give me some satiety.

Do you homebrew? If yes, favorite homebrew to date: I just started home brewing and my favorite brew to date was a Belgian-style Dubbel. I brewed this beer specifically to drink on my birthday with some of my favorite people (both industry and non-industry) and it was very well received. There is no more satisfying feeling than hearing that your keg has been drained.

How’d you hear about the pdxbeergeeks? I heard about you via the wonderfully engaging, Michael Umphress. I had served beer to Michael at Saraveza on a few occasions and we officially met at Bailey’s Taproom for their 4th Anniversary last summer.

What does being a beer geek mean to you? Well, I guess it means that you’re turned on by science and traditionally people into science are referred to as geeks. Geeks are normally perceived as being socially awkward so throw the beer in there as a social lubricant and you get a wonderful mix of highly intelligent creatures who are now allowed to wax-philosophic about their scientific creations.

If you could change one thing about beer culture in the US, what would it be? I don’t feel fully qualified to answer this question as I have really only been a part of beer culture in the Pacific Northwest. From talking with people from other parts of the country and who travel regularly, I gather that we are an anomaly of sorts. We are very lucky to have such a vital community and a local government who support the craft beer industry. I guess I would wish that other parts of our country could be allowed to benefit as much as we have. I think this is happening; it’s just a slower process due to dense populations, tighter government restrictions and economic challenges.

What do you love about Portland’s Craft Beer scene? What’s not to love? I think that the whole scene embodies love. Love of science, love of being human and love of life itself. I feel that beer is a living food created out of a need to connect with other human beings and I feel that Portland has been a shining example of this ideal.

Where can we find you on the web? I don’t have my own site or blog, but I’m on the dreaded Facebook (often times talking about or posting pictures of beer) and you can find my bottle cap jewelry for sale on Saraveza’s online store: http://www.beerboutique.com/