Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview Series : Meet the Geek : Chris Shifman

Name: Chris Shifman

Hometown: Portland, Oregon for nearly two decades, but originally northern New Jersey (yes, Sopranos country!)

Favorite Beer: There is no simple answer to this is there? By region I guess I would go with Lucifer from Brouwerij Het Anker (Belgium), Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewing (England) and nearly anything from 7 Stern Brau (Austria). Here at home I am currently loving Ft. George’s stuff (especially the Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale) out of Astoria and Elk Head Brewing’s beers. They are a small brewery that does all unfiltered stuff out of Buckley, Washington.

Favorite Beer Haunt: Roscoe’s on SE Stark is a gem. Other favorites include The Green Dragon, The Horse Brass Pub and The Muddy Rudder.

What was the first craft brew you ever tried? What did you think? It was a MacTarnahan’s offered to me by a shrewed and insightful friend at Jake’s Grill in early 1995. He mentioned “citrusy” and I thought he meant a beer with a lemon wedge! One pint and I was hooked. I had never had a hop-forward beer before and within a year I was a full blown beer geek.

Do you homebrew? If yes, favorite homebrew to date: No, though I have had homebrewing friends generous enough with their time and patience let me “sit in” on the process from time to time. I do believe it brings a whole other perspective to the beer drinking experience.

How’d you hear about the pdxbeergeeks? Hmmm. I’m not sure. Either at a beer event or somewhere out in the World Wide Webiverse.

What does being a beer geek mean to you? Loving the beer scene(s), learning as much as I can about all the wonderful brews out there by reading, talking and (especially) tasting and promoting the beers I love and craft beer as a whole while trying to avoid being preachy, proselytizing or pedantic! 

If you could change one thing about beer culture in the US, what would it be? It is, i think, a little too easy to pick on the “big boys” and the macro industry. I would love to see a little less negativity from those supposedly “in the know” towards regional craft beer institutions like Deschutes, Bridgeport and McMenamin’s. I hear folks put these places down as if it somehow bolsters their craft brewing street cred or something. Apart from the fact that brewers like these are the foundation of our regional craft brewing industry and scene, and rather directly responsible for the wealth of amazing beer we have available to us right now, I find myself wondering when, exactly, was the last time many of these “critics” actually tried a beer from one of these brewers and if these same ‘critics” are even aware of the variety of beers brewed by at these places? It is not just Hammerhead and Mirror Pond (and there is nothing wrong with those to boot)!

What do you love about Portland’s Craft Beer scene? Besides the sheer quality and range of the beer it would have to be the number of wonderful beer events we have here in the Rose City. Hardly a week goes by where something interesting is not happening in the beer scene and we are especially privileged to have access to some really unique events.

The Fresh Hop Festivals in early October are something that is unique to a hop growing region such as ours. The rare taste of a truly fresh hopped beer, whether a wet hopped take on an existing brew or an entirely new recipe made just for the hop harvest, is something you really only see here in Cascadia.

An event like the upcoming 6th Annual Portland Cheers to Belgian Beers Festival (April 21st) is an event that, to my knowledge, has no parallel anywhere else. Dozens of brewers all brewing individual and different beers, but all using the same yeast strain! The range of styles, colors and flavors is just stunning. True heaven for a beer geek.

Roscoe’s does a “Summit” on the final Friday of each month and there is always a unifying theme. Sometimes it will be as “simple” as “German beers” or “IPAs” (the summit theme for April, by the way), and even then (Roscoe’s owners) Jeremy (Lewis) and Quyen (Ly) will pull some amazing stuff out of the cellar, but other times it will be truly unusual in theme - something like “All Belgian styles from Oregon brewers” or “Favorite new breweries in the Portland Metro area”. And this happens EVERY month in Portland!

Where can we find you on the web? Facebook, Beer Advocate, City Search.