I’d like to thank Bob the Brit for taking the time to come up with these questions, and thanks to Liz of Toons by Liz and original TBC member for the caricature of me! We’ve interviewed Lee and Bob in the past, so hopefully you find this one interesting as well. Thanks, and Happy New Year!
1. The Brew Club now is very different to how it first started out, are you pleased with the changes?
As you know, I started this site back in the Spring of 2008 with some co-workers as a way to keep track of the different beers we exchanged with one another at the office. The idea was that we’d put up a beer, and then everyone comment on it. Well, nobody really wanted to bother with the website except me, so I ran with it and it sort of became my own beer review site.
I’m happy with how the site is now, but I can’t say it got here through any real strategy or planning, so any change from the beginning has just been situational I guess. Today, we post more than beer reviews, and have contributors from around the Country and around the World which is what I’m most happy with.
Due to time constraints, the rate at which we publish has gone down from three times per week to one, but I think we’ve managed to keep the quality up which people seem to appreciate.
2. Can you remember your first beer? Or maybe your first legal beer?
There’s a picture of me someplace where my alcoholic grandfather put an empty can of Schaffer beer next to me as a sleeping baby. It’s kind of funny and I should try to find it! I do remember taking sips of that awful stuff at family gatherings and perhaps that’s why I didn’t get to drinking at an early age. It tasted like poison.
I don’t remember my first legal beer, but I do remember buying beer legally for the first time when I was 21. I bought a six-pack of Heineken and was not asked to show ID. Strangely enough, I was asked to show ID 20 years later while buying beer!
3. Which was the first beer that really blew you away? What were your impressions?
I’d have to say it was Keegan Ales ‘Mother’s Milk’. Its a milk stout from a brewery near Albany, NY.
Considering I tried that beer in November of 2008, this site was humming along seven months before I had a beer that really got my attention. It was just so different! Creamy, sweet, bitter, chocolaty – I couldn’t believe how many flavors this stuff had! I mean, I’ve always liked Guinness, but this was a whole different ball of wax.
While I’ve come to find better Milk Stouts since then, I’ve come to appreciate the Stout in general and acknowledge this as my first WOW beer.
4. What beers do you suggest to somebody that’s never tried anything except ‘Duff’?
Well, Duff is a pretty solid beer, so my suggestions would not be too extreme, but still flavorful. Many of the suggestions from the ’5 best beers for a beginner‘ post still stand but today, and there’s a lot of gems in the comments too.
I would ween a Duff fan with Sam Adams Boston Lager and take it from there, but I’d also add Rogue Dead Guy, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis and maybe just about anything from the Sam Smith’s lineup just to demonstrate different beer styles in a moderate fashion.
5. Do you have a favourite beer shop? How often do you visit it?
I do. While I try to visit the smaller shops, I find myself going to the Total Wine & More in River Edge, NJ the most frequently. They have good prices, a very respectable selection of good beers, domestic and imported, and you can buy singles which is a nice option.
I used to go weekly, but now its about once per month. I even went during the month I wasn’t drinking beer, that’s how much I like the place!
6. And what do they serve in your local bar? How often do you visit it?
Being a homebody, new Father, and a nerd (not a beer nerd, just a regular nerd), I don’t frequent bars that often. When I did, it would be the Copper Mine Pub in N. Arlington, NJ or Andy’s Corner Bar in Bagota, NJ or the Clover Leaf Tavern in West Caldwell, NJ. They all have excellent selections of craft beer.
7. Which brewers do you actively seek out? Or if you see a new brew by a brewer on a shelf you’d try based on past experiences?
Usually, its a game-time decision for me, although I do admit to seeking out the Sam Adams seasonals and seasonal variety packs each year.
I used to seek out beers that were generating a lot of buzz on beer blogs, but not so much now. Now, its more of a zen-like feeling when purchasing beer, although I will admit to being influenced by your four or five-star beer reviews!
8. As a Brit, I’m curious, which British brews or brewers do you rate highly?
Well, I am usually very impressed with anything from Samuel Smith. Their Imperial Stout, Oatmeal Stout and Taddy Porter are some of my all-time favorite beers. I’ve also had good stuff from Fuller’s, (London Pride and ESB come to mind) and also the beers from St. Peter’s have been enjoyable. I wish there were more British beers available here, especially from those Thornbridge people!
9. What, if any, are your ambitions for The Brew Club?
I have no ambitions for the site. In spite of that, it seems to grow month by month and year by year so apparently people like it!
Keeping that in mind, I try to keep things interesting and varied, and if someday it pays all of my bills and that of the other writers, I’d be a very happy fellow! I suppose the proper thing to do is have a plan, bu that seems to take a bit of fun out of the whole thing.
10. And finally, after having given beer up for a month, if you were told you could have one final beer, and never again… which would it be?
Jeez, Bob. That’s a really tough question to answer, and to tell you the truth it would depend on when that final beer offer was made.
If it were right now, at this very moment, I think it would be Samuel Adams Imperial Stout. When I tried that beer for the first time, I really freaked out. Its an amazing beer that pushes all of the right buttons for an Imperial Stout fan!
Ask tomorrow, and it might be something different!