Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Interview Series : Meet the Geeks : Justin Craft of Craft Beer Cards

Justin Craft
Name: Justin Craft

Hometown: Roseburg, Oregon

Favorite Beer: Right now? Give me something dark and hoppy. Oakshire O'Dark:30, Laurelwood Ink Heart CDA, or Deschutes Hop in the Dark come to mind. Also, Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin or Wookey Jack. I have a particularly soft spot for great sessionable rye beers and amazing pumpkin beers, like Fort George Quiet Rye-It and Southern Tier Pumpking. I'm a Portlander, so a big hoppy Imperial IPA is always going to get my attention. Honestly, too many amazing craft beers to name out there which I am a fan of.

Favorite Beer Haunt: Horse Brass, Belmont Station, Caps & Corks, Bottles, and Roscoe's.
What was the first craft brew you ever tried? What did you think? I was fortunate to get my first experience with craft beer at 18. I was a computer technician in the US Air Force, and the first base I was permanently stationed at was RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom. Hours after I arrived in the UK and met my co-workers at the 9th Communications Squadron, they took me out to a local off-base British pub for some proper English pints. It was an eye-opening experience as far as beer is concerned. The beer had flavors and was complex in a way I didn't know beer to be. It was the first ale I've ever tried, and was most likely a Landlord, Kipling, or Fuller's. I couldn't tell you which style of beer I was consuming, but it was far from anything I had tasted prior. After that, I toured Germany, France, Belgium, Scotland, and Austria, sampling whatever different kinds of beer I came across. I returned back to Portland after my time in the Air Force, and decided to pursue this new love of craft beer which I discovered abroad.

Do you homebrew? If yes, favorite homebrew to date: I started homebrewing in 1997. I have had several successes (and absolute failures) over those many years, but there was one which stood out above the rest. Tommy Two-Stone Porter. It is perfectly balanced, with a bit of roast and chocolate malt. I hope to brew it on a 7-barrel system one day. I'm one of those homebrewers who has a bunch of equipment, but only brews 2 or 3 times a year, and who constantly says, "I don't brew enough. I should get something in the kettle soon". Sad but true.

How’d you hear about the pdxbeergeeks? I was there at the original inception of the project when Michael & Emily were talking about it. Since then, I've been a fan and occasionally claim fame to having been there "at the beginning".

What does being a beer geek mean to you? It means being the guy who people ask for keg recommendations to serve at weddings. It means being able to speak somewhat intelligently to the rest of your party about the beers on tap when you go out to eat. It means politely correcting and informing the caterer when they suggest that the "Lompoc" beer on tap is from beautiful Lompoc, California, when it obviously is not. It means being excited about recognizing and talking to a brewer at a Timbers game (but trying to be casual in your conversation, as not to spook the brewer in to thinking you are stalking them). It means having a firm grasp of what makes a beer desirable to drink for different occasions. It also means you love craft beer and are naturally a craft beer evangelist.

If you could change one thing about beer culture in the US, what would it be? Education about what beer was, is, and should be. I am a strong believer in gateway beers, leading the "beer blind" in to the ever-evolving folds of the beer-enlightened.

What do you love about Portland’s Craft Beer scene? The craft beer landscape is changing rapidly in Portland. I am constantly reminded we live in Beervana, USA. We have an ever-growing selection of craft beers to try, new breweries opening almost every month, multiple craft beer events to attend nearly every week, and with no end in sight. I see it as a very good thing.

Where can we find you on the web? I am the Founder of Craft Beer Cards, which puts craft brewers on trading cards. You can find Craft Beer Cards on Facebook or on Twitter @CraftBeerCards. Personally, my Twitter handle is @BadFetch. #RCTID