Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Favorite Beer: The two answers that I give most often to this question are “The beer in my hand” and “Free Beer”. I’m not sure that makes me sound like a Beer Geek as much as it does functional alcoholic, but for the most part, it’s pretty true. I don’t have a go-to style, I prefer to play the field and bounce around. Variety is the spice of life after all, and craft beer offers so much variety, I can’t really imagine settling on just one brew, that over and over again, wins out in my mind over all others. All of that said, I spend most of my days and a lot of nights talking about and drinking my brewery’s beer, and considering Schlafly brews well over 50 styles every year, I can pretty much stay close to home and still taste the rainbow. This also brings us back full circle to my two most often given answers in that being Communications Director for Schlafly Beer, Schlafly Beer tends to satisfy both of my criteria for Favorite Beer.
Favorite Beer Haunt: The Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis. The brewery/restaurant not only boasts 18 different Schlafly styles on draft and cask, but some of the best food in town. There’s literally a menu item called the “Plate of Swine” that has beer battered bacon as one of the three swine preparations. The building itself is beautiful and oozing personality. Built in 1902 to house a printing company, the Schlafly Tap Room is now listed on the Historic Register. It sat empty throughout much of the 60’s and 70’s and almost burnt to the ground in a massive downtown firestorm. Later, the City allowed it to be briefly lit back on fire for it’s film debut in John Carpenter’s cult classic “Escape From New York”. Turns out downtown St. Louis in the late 70’s/early 80’s was the perfect stand in for a post apocalyptic New York City. We bought the building and restored it and first opened our doors in 1991, which made us the first new brewery to open up in St. Louis since Prohibition. In addition to great food and beer, we also host live music every weekend, a ton of community events, and seven huge annual beer/food festivals. So yeah, a pretty awesome place to eat and drink with an incredible vibe. I love it, and I get to work right above it.
What was the first craft brew you ever tried? What did you think? I want to say the first “craft” beer I remember drinking was Dixie Blackened Voodoo. I may not have been my first, but it was the first I remember drinking, really liking, and looking for again. That said, I may or may not have, exactly, completely, been of legal drinking age, and can say that this was the first time I remember drinking something with a significant amount of flavor (I remember it as dark and a bit smoky). Unfortunately, I believe Dixie was flooded out by Katrina and now this beer is contract brewed up in Wisconsin. Still, this was my introduction to a wider world of beer and by age 23, I was working for Schlafly.
Do you homebrew? Other than brewing a terrible batch of beer with Mr. Beer back in high school, I don’t homebrew. I remember reading the directions and seeing that alcohol content was dictated by the amount of sugar I added, so in all of my 17 year-old wisdom, I added about 4 times as much sugar as the recipe called for. Not recommended. I do think I drank all of the beer. This was during a time in my life when I had the film Strange Brew on heavy rotation.
How’d you hear about the pdxbeergeeks? To be quite honest, the first time I became aware of pdxbeergeeks was after someone stuck a pdxbeergeeks bumper sticker onto the rear end of an a young woman I had just met and was chatting up on the Thursday night prior to the start of the 2011 Beer Bloggers Conference in Portland. PDXbeergeeks has been on my radar ever since and I’m happy to say that the young woman in question and myself have been happily dating for the past six months. As my best friend from high school, and current Social Media Director for New Belgium Brewing Co. said to me, “Beer Bloggers Conference...who knew?”
What does being a beer geek mean to you? For me, being a beer geek is more about being part of a community of beer lovers than it is about simply loving beer. Anyone can sit around and enjoy a great beer (or a crappy beer for that matter), but it’s something entirely different when you suddenly have other people to talk about that beer with and talk about why you love it or hate it, or what the latest news from your favorite brewery is all about. A beer geek is certainly going to be a beer drinker, but being a beer drinker definitely doesn’t make you a geek. As we all know, craft beer only accounts for about 5% of all beer consumed in the US, and it’s pretty safe to say that your true “beer geeks” represent an even smaller percentage, still, of that 5%. That means we’re a pretty elite crew. We know the speak, we know how to communicate about what we like, we have our favorite beers and breweries, a lot of us make our own beer, either at home or at a brewery proper...there’s a lot of beards...where was I? Oh, the point is, there’s a common ground of passion, interest, and love for great beer between beer geeks, no matter how passionately we might disagree with one another at times, and being able to relate to one another in that way means that A) we can usually spot each other even when we’re total strangers, and B) we can then probably strike up a fun conversation over a beer incredibly easily, and that is really cool.
If you could change one thing about beer culture in the US, what would it be? I honestly think the beer culture is incredibly healthy. We’ve had 5 new breweries open in St. Louis in the past year, and that is a national growth trend, so clearly beer drinkers are getting more educated and are open to embracing something more than light lager, which is cause to rejoice. Just yesterday Mississippi changed it’s laws to allow for higher alcohol beer, and that legislation came about, in large part, to a grass roots movement by “beer geeks”. How awesome is that.
|Not recommended at home.|
Obviously there is a lot to love in the Portland Craft Beer Scene, but I have a much more personal connection than just delicious, hoppy goodness. For years, I worked at a Summer Camp in Northern Wisconin (I even did it for a few years after I started at Schlafly, because I would quit and come back.) It was at this camp that I first met an 8th grader named Ben Edmunds. This name may sound familiar as he is now the Brewmaster for Breakside, and from everything I read (and tasted last Fall), he’s doing an amazing job. Well...I was his cabin counselor when he was in 8th grade...and then later he worked for me in our outdoor education program. I’ve attached photos what both of those scenarios looked like. BEHOLD! Point being, I can tell you for an absolutely certainty, that everything awesome Ben Edmunds is doing for the Portland Craft Beer Scene, is because of me. I claim it all.