Monday, October 6, 2014

The Boys Are Back...And Late as Usual

Take it away Al, Ken, James, Josh, Tim, Jeff and Matt (otherwise known as The Dropkick Murphys)

The boys are back
The boys are back
The boys are back
and they’re looking for trouble

I didn’t brew anything for 19 long months. All of that ended about a month ago when I brewed a recipe from John Palmer’s How to Brew. My first all-grain batch, too. It felt wonderful to smell the grains during the mash and boil again, to watch the hops dissolve into the boil and to spend hours upon hours cleaning all of the equipment needed for the brew. (I may be one of the few who actually enjoys the cleaning part of the process.)

I missed homebrewing. I missed it a lot. It’s one of the few things I truly look forward to and get overly excited even giddy when brew day approaches. 

19 months was a long time to stop doing something that you love. There were many reasons why I temporally stopped and I certainly harbor no regrets for taking some time off. But during that time off I never stopped thinking about this favorite hobby of mine and when I would get to enjoy it again.

Since getting back into homebrewing I’ve brewed three batches. There are two bigs things that I’ve learned since the paddle has gotten back into my hand and I’ve started all-grain brewing:
  1. My style of homebrewing further confirms that I am a perfectionist.
  2. I’ve read of lot of books on homebrewing/brewing and because of this I thought that I would know what I was doing. As it turns out, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.
You can read all of the theory that you want. It doesn’t mean anything unless you’ve put it into practice and translated it into success. It’s pretty easy to homebrew a beer that is drinkable, but it’s damn hard to make a good beer - something you’d brew again in a heartbeat.

Getting back into brewing deepened my appreciation for good beer. Not necessarily for the flavors and aromas of said beer (already loved those), but for what homebrewing reminds me of: Brewers who can make really good beer - consistently - are amazing.

Brewing is a talent. A skill. An art. You can’t just do it once or twice and be great at it. It takes years, maybe even a lifetime of practice.

It’s a good thing that I’m a perfectionist. Homebrewing fits quite nicely into that.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Don't Stop Believing

Pursuing a goal isn’t easy. It demands sacrifice, grit and determination. It requires one to invest a lot of time and energy for a payoff that may never come. Along the way there will be a lot of discouragement. A lot of reasons to stop and just accept settling. It’s  admittedly tough to keep on going sometimes, especially when the tunnel is long and that light at the end isn’t even visible yet.

Occasionally in that journey through the tunnel, encouragement will arrive to give you a taste of what is to come. 

My encouragement came in waves last week...

The first was from an article written by an idol of mine, Randy Mosher. I actually ran into him once, at Goose Island’s 26th Anniversary Party. I approached him to start a conversation I’ve rehearsed in my head many times, but instead, I pronounced his name wrong and stuttered through an awkward two minute exchange.

Second chances will come soon enough.

Mr. Mosher wrote an article for All About Beer Magazine recently called “The Tasting Act.” In this article he describes the difference between drinking and tasting. The part of the article that caught my eye was one single paragraph at the end:

“Be prepared to settle in for the long haul. There is no quick shortcut to mastering this fine and particular art. I’ve been at it for more than 25 years, and I am constantly humbled and rarely walk away from a tasting or judging without learning something completely new. It’s a lifelong pursuit, one where you really never reach your destination, but make enjoyable progress toward it with practice and over time. Along the way you will also develop confidence, which makes tasting more fun as well.”

Life is a journey, not a destination. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that and Randy Mosher wonderfully applied it to a beer enthusiast’s world.

Cheers to you, Mr. Mosher.

The second encouraging moment I experienced was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time: a beer and food pairing. At the hotel where I work, the head sous chef and I were asked to host an evening of beer and food pairings. The chef came up with four dishes and I paired four different beers with each dish. The menu and pairings were as follows:

Coconut and Lemongrass Mussels with Thai Chili and Sesame Naan
Allagash White – Belgian Witbier

Porter and Cheddar Soup with Cajun Chive Popcorn
Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald – Robust Porter

Pork Belly Tacos with Pickled Watermelon, Cotija Cheese and Ancho Q
Revolution Anti-Hero – American IPA
(The consensus favorite pairing of the night, including mine)

Duck Confit Agnolotti with Fennel Slaw and Apple Cherry Demi Glaze
Ommegang Abbey Ale – Belgian Dubbel

This was my first food pairing dinner and I was nervous. I didn’t get to try any of the pairings ahead of time (I did get to eat the first three dishes ahead of time but not the fourth) so I had to build of off what I knew worked. 

Each of the pairings was a huge success. The chef and I opened up a new world to the 19 people that attended the dinner. You can tell that as the evening went on and the discussions about the pairings increased, everybody was enjoying themselves. There were even several comments from a handful of people about how they didn’t like one or two of the beers I chose. But when they ate the dish and then drank the beer paired with it, they loved it.

I went home from that dinner reinvigorated and motivated more than ever to continue my journey in beer.

We work in life for the payoff of a moment. The amount of time one spends working for that moment tremendously exceeds the amount of time spent within the moment itself.

But it is within that single moment, we realize that all of it was worth it.

That is what keeps us going.

That is what keeps me going.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

You Know What They Say...

No risk, no reward.

How many times have we heard that statement? It’s engrained in our minds and taught to us as we grow up. Countless sayings of similar nature exist, all of them expanding on this simple concept in different ways.

I try to remember this concept as much as possible, but often times fail to live up to it. It’s not easy taking a risk. The “risk” itself implies that there is something to lose. For someone who doesn’t like to gamble, risking “A” for “B” is tough.

There is another saying that is somewhat similar, yet entirely different:

Reward, no risk.

This type of scenario does exist. There are times when a risk isn’t present at all. A situation where little investment is needed but a possibility is present. This possibility may not be great and failure may be a result, but when there isn’t a risk involved, “what have you got to lose?” 

I work part-time for a brewery. It’s a fun job that’s afforded me the opportunity to do other very enjoyable things. One of those things is a BJCP-style guidelines study group with a couple of brewers, lab workers and one other part-timer (works full time hours but is still only considered a part-timer). Every week we get together to study, taste and dissect beers that are similar in nature (or “style”). The study group is easily one of the highlights of my week.

Out of everyone in the study group I am the only one who doesn’t work in the beer industry full time. I’ve made it no secret that some day I’d like to end up there and often times the other study group members ask why I haven’t pursued anything yet. This question came up a couple of weeks ago when the brewery I work part-time for was hiring two brewing interns. Some of the group members asked if I had ever thought about becoming a brewer.

Only every single day of my life.

They encouraged me to apply for the internship. I immediately wrote it off.

“They will probably only hire someone with experience. I’ve been told that countless times from everywhere else so I’m sure its the same here.”

The other “part-timer” in the group agreed with me but held a more optimistic approach to the opportunity. She informed me that she applied to the position. She knew full well that the possibility of her getting the position was low but that didn’t deter her at all. 

“What is the harm in applying?” she said. “The worst that can happen is that they say no. It’s a no if I don’t apply, so why not?”

Yesterday we held our weekly tasting panel. I was the second to show up. I walked into the room and saw the other “part-timer” sitting there on her phone. We exchanged greetings and caught up on what happened to us over the past week.

At the end of the small talk she dropped the bomb on me. 

She was selected and hired as one of the brewing interns.

She is on her way to becoming a brewer.

I was shocked. I congratulated her on the accomplishment and the new position telling her how happy I was for her. That was not a lie. I was and still am happy for her. She works damn hard and has sacrificed a lot to get where she is at. She has earned her new position.

After the study group, I couldn’t help but feel regret. I brushed off this amazing opportunity thinking that I didn’t stand a chance. In reality, I more than likely had a good chance of getting the other open intern position. I had the backing of several brewers and a more in-depth knowledge base of beer and the brewery process than either person that was hired.

Instead of even attempting the shot, I dropped the ball and walked away assuming I would miss.

The great ones always take the shot. 99 out of 100 times they may miss, but to them that doesn’t matter. That one time, they are going to make it.

If I ever want to accomplish what I dream about, I need to live by this mentality.

I need to start taking more shots.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How I Learned to Jump to Conclusions

The final installment in this series is finally here. After looking at these lists several times over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come up with several conclusions about the “best” beers in the world.

Believe in the hype

Is this beer rare? Is it released once or twice per year? Is it very hard to get? Do I have to stand in a line for it? Is the beer only sold from one location? Would I have to trade lopsidedly just to get it? Was last year’s better than this year’s?

If the answer to more than one of these questions is yes, then the beer is worthy of being in the top 50. 

4 out of 5 dentists recommend...

IPAs. It must be true with how much the craft drinker apparently drinks them. In fact, there is an old saying, “Two IPAs a day, keeps the doctors away.” Sprinkle in something barrel-aged and something sour and you’ve got yourself a balanced diet!

Is it barrel-aged?

No?! Then I don’t want it. Seriously. “Normal” beers aren’t good enough to stand up on their own. They need to be aged in some sort of barrel to pick up some “spirit” taste like bourbon or whiskey. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth the time.

A full circle palate 

“Gateway craft beer” - Stouts and Porters - IPAs - Anything Imperial or barrel-aged - Belgian beers - English Ales - German Lagers. 

The typical journey of the beer palate. Allow for some discretion of course, but when I talk to other beer drinkers, beer geeks, brewers or industry professionals the story normally goes like that. Sooner or later you don’t need to be assaulted with aggressive flavors in beer. Your palate just wants something simple and full of flavor. It seems like the American craft beer geek isn’t there yet. 

Zymurgy - The odd man out

This is the only list that featured a good amount of “regularly” available beers all around the country. Therefore, it cannot be trusted. Boulevard Tank 7. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Lagunitas Sucks. Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro. Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald. Zymurgy is a homebrew magazine so I suspect that a majority of people who voted were homebrewers (1+1=2!!!). Seems like homebrewers enjoy the simpler things. That or they just don’t have the time to chase around whales all weekend because they are homebrewing.

All jokes aside, these lists are all opinion. Don’t forget that.

There is no best beer in the world.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love "Top Beer" Lists - Volume 2

I’ve never been more excited to follow up on a blog post. Originally, I was going to do this topic in two parts but I just can’t seem to fit everything into two posts (unless the second post is very, very long). How I Learned to Stop Worrying has now officially become a series of posts (looking at three posts right now). 

After I posted the first part of this series last week, I continued to dig to find more data pertaining to “user-rated” top beer lists or top beer lists that were essentially based off of opinion (wouldn’t all “top” lists be opinions for that matter?). I stumbled upon a site called BeerGraphs. This site utilizes the social media beer rating site Untappd, pulling data to create a ranking system for the world’s top beers. It’s fairly complicated as they don’t just take straight ratings off the site. Similar to Beer Advocate and RateBeer, a lot of other factors come into play. You can read about how they develop their metric here.

Surprise, surpise. Heady Topper tops another list

Beer Graph’s Top 50 lists breaks down like so:

American Double/Imperial IPA: 13
American IPA: 11
American Double/Imperial Stout: 9 (all are barrel-aged)
American Pale Ale: 3
Russian Imperial Stout: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
American Strong Ale: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
American Barleywine: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
Quadrupel: 1
Imperial/Double Red Ale: 1
American Pale Wheat: 1
Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy: 1 (barrel-aged)
Lambic - Fruit: 1
Pumpkin: 1
Pale Lager: 1 (Jack’s Abbey Hoponius Union which they self describe as an India Pale Lager)
Fruit Beer: 1 (barrel-aged)

There are a couple of things to remember about this list and Untappd in general. First of all, there were ample repeats in the top 50. I had to look to the top 60 eliminating ten repeats total in the top 50. Repeats are allowed on this list because Untappd’s beers are user-generated. Some users felt the need to separate some beers by year (ex: Bourbon County Brand Stout 2013 vs. Bourbon County Brand Stout). When I was a hardcore Untappd user, this was one of the things that frustrated me the most about the app.

The other thing that frustrated me again tied into the fact that the beers are often user-generated, meaning users can add beers in at their leisure. When a user adds a beer, that user defines the style (as well as the alcohol by volume). If the user adds in the wrong style, that beer is then forever defined with the wrong style. King Henry is a great example of this. Goose Island defines this beer as an English-style Barleywine. On Untappd, it is categorized as an American-style Barleywine. Is this THAT big of a deal? No, especially since the beer is barrel-aged. HOWEVER, there is a unique difference between an English-style Barleywine and an American-style Barleywine. For someone who has spent the time to learn the difference between the two, this could be incredibly annoying.

Untappd actually has a list of top beers on its website. The list is 36 beers long, with one repeat (Russian River’s Beatification) so for scoring purposes this will only be counted once.

Untappd's highest rated beer.
The name explains why.

American Imperial/Double Stout: 18 (17 are barrel-aged)American Imperial/Double IPA: 6
American Wild Ale: 3 (all are barrel-aged)
Russian Imperial Stout: 2 (are all barrel-aged)
American Barleywine: 1 (barrel-aged)
Quadrupel: 1
Lambic - Fruit: 1
American Pale Ale: 1
American Strong Ale: 1 (barrel-aged)
Root Beer: 1 (Small Town’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer)

NOTE: One of the entries in the list was categorized as a Gueuze but I included it instead as an American Wild Ale. It appears on several of the lists as an American Wild Ale so it just made sense to lump it in with that style. Furthermore, I personally don’t consider this beer to be a Gueuze due to production methods BUT this post in not meant to be an argument of style differentiation. 

The final numbers I’d like to bring to your attention are again from the website Beer Graphs. If you do some clicking around, you’ll find a list that ranks the highest average rated beer styles overall on Untappd. These numbers are from 2013 (I couldn’t find anything more recent) but I suspect that if there was a current top 15 styles list it would still be very close to this list. In order:

Imperial Double/IPA
Imperial/Double Red Ale
American Imperial/Double Stout
Imperial Oatmeal Stout
Russian Imperial Stout
Belgian Quad
Imperial/Double Black IPA
Root Beer
Flanders Red Ale
Imperial/Double Porter
Milk/Sweet Stout
Cyser ( A type of mead)
Irish Dry Stout
American Wild Ale

Breaking the statistics down by percentages:

Beer Graphs:

IPA (Including Imperial): 50% (Jack’s Abbey’s beer was included in this statistic)
Imperial Stout (Including Russian): 22%
Barrel-Aged: 34%


IPA (Including Imperial): 17%
Imperial Stout (Including Russian): 57%
Barrel-Aged: 67%

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love "Top Beers" Lists

Zymurgy, a popular homebrew/craft beer magazine, came out with its annual reader’s poll list of the top 50 beers in America. It’s an interesting list. Check it out here if you’d like.

The thing that strikes me most about the list is that it’s comprised mostly of “hoppy” beers. By that I mean beers in which the balance in the aroma and flavor are shifted towards hops (not to mention a scale tipped slightly towards hop bitterness). I decided to break down the list even further to see exactly what the numbers are:

Note: All styles are categorized using Beer Advocate     

The third beer on the left is considered the best
"commercially available" beer in the United States,
according to Zymurgy readers

American IPA: 16
American Double/Imperial IPA: 12
American Double/Imperial Stout: 4 (3 are barrel-aged)
American Pale Ale: 3
American Wild Ale: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
American Porter: 2
Russian Imperial Stout: 2
American Black Ale (Black IPA): 1
American Pale Wheat Ale: 1
American Strong Ale: 1
Saison: 1
Milk/Sweet Stout: 1
Oud Bruin: 1
American Amber/Red Ale: 1
Quadrupel: 1
Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy: 1 (barrel-aged)

Wow. 28 out of 50 beers are either an IPA or an Imperial IPA. Add in sub-categories of IPA, American Pale Ale and beers that are “hoppy” for their style and you get 34 total. 

That’s 68% of the list!!!

It got me thinking...what about the other top beer lists? How do they compare? I looked no further than two of the most popular beer websites on the planet: RateBeer and Beer Advocate. Let’s break them down:

According to Beer Advocate, Heady Topper is the best beer
in the world. This guy agrees.

American Double/Imperial Stout: 16 (13 are barrel-aged)
American Imperial IPA: 13
American Wild Ale: 6 (all are barrel-aged)
Russian Imperial Stout: 4 (3 are barrel-aged)
Lambic - Fruit: 3
English Barleywine: 2 (all are barrel-aged)
Quadrupel: 2
American Pale Ale: 2
Old Ale: 1 (barrel-aged)
American Porter: 1

RateBeer users have rated this the number one beer
in the world. 

Imperial Stout: 32 (19 are barrel-aged)
Imperial IPA: 7
Sour/Wild Ale: 3 (all barrel aged)
Quadrupel: 2
Belgian Strong Ale: 2
American Strong Ale: 1 (barrel-aged)
Fruit beer: 1 (Kuhnhenn Raspberry Eisbock. Beer Advocate lists as an Eisbock)
Lambic - Fruit: 1
Barleywine: 1 (barrel-aged; North Coast Old Stock Cellar Reserve Brandy Barrel. Beer Advocate lists this example as an Old Ale)

For the sake of my observations (which will be laid out in a future blog post), let’s make the following simplifications:

  • Beer Advocate’s “American Imperial Stout” and “Russian Imperial Stout” classifications will be combined to match RateBeer’s “Imperial Stout” category.
  • RateBeer’s “Belgian Strong Ale” will be compared to Beer Advocate’s “Belgian Dark Strong.” “Quadrupel” will also be grouped in with these styles.
  • RateBeer’s “Barleywine” in the top 50 will NOT be compared against Beer Advocate’s “Barleywines” in the top 50. North Coast Old Stock Cellar Reserve Brandy Barrel is number 48 on RateBeer’s list and they have it classified as a “Barleywine” when Beer Advocate has it listed as an “Old Ale.” 
  • RateBeer’s “fruit beer” in the top 50 will probably be thrown out as well since Beer Advocate classifies this beer as an “Eisbock.” (Gotta love the never-ending argument about style classification.)
  • Lambics - Fruit will not be included in any “barrel-aged” statistics. Barrel-aging is essential to this style of beer. The styles of beer that I reference “barrel-aged” statistics for don’t require barrel aging for that particular style. For example, neither “American Wild Ales,” “Sour/Wild Ales” nor “Imperial Stouts” need to be barrel-aged in order to be classified as such.

There will be some interpretation on my end based on my palette and what I’ve tasted. I haven’t tasted all of the beers on these list, but I have sampled quite a few of them. Those interpretations will most apply to the Zymurgy list.

Again, I’ll save my observations for my next blog post. I want the information to sink in before I start commenting on the lists. 

I will, however, leave you with an interesting breakdown - the percentages of beers from each list that fall under these 3 categories: IPA, Imperial Stout, or barrel-aged beers.


IPA (Including Imperial): 58%
Imperial Stout (Including Russian): 12%
Barrel Aged Beers: 12%

Beer Advocate:

IPA (Including Imperial): 26%
Imperial Stout (Including Russian): 40%
Barrel Aged Beers: 50%


IPA (Including Imperial): 14%
Imperial Stout (Including Russian): 64%
Barrel Aged Beers: 50%

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Food Babe

If you keep up on beer news, you already know the big story this week that has all of the beer bloggers (and even some people in the science community) talking.

Last year, a food blogger by the name of Food Babe published a post that called out the “big” beer companies for not being “honest” about the ingredients used in beer. (I’ll spare you the details, but feel free to search “Food Babe” and read all of the press if you’d like.) 

I do have a few favorite bits of her article, including her recommendation to drink craft and microbrews as long as they are “independently owned and controlled,” even though a lot of craft breweries use the same ingredients as the big boys. (She actually gave an implied warning not to drink beer from Goose Island, a warning I am happily not listening to as I write this post). The picture at the end of the post of her drinking wine is also wonderfully ironic.

This brings us to the present. This week, the Food Babe claimed victory against Anheuser-Busch as they agreed to post the ingredients of their beer online. MillersCoors also posted the ingredients to several of their beers, but that wasn’t good enough for the Food Babe. She continued her attack on the larger beer companies and even included beer bloggers in the attack this time around. For some odd reason she also brought up the use of hop extracts implying that this is somehow an ingredient with negative impacts on a beer.

Reading about this topic/argument today made me exhausted (and needing a beer). It’s a classic internet argument where the gloves come off due to the fact that one is really only conversing with a white screen and keyboard. The internet has given all of us a voice (myself included) and most of us hide behind its vail for protection. We get involved in altercations that we would never even dream of including ourselves in if the person was right in front of our face. Tempers flare hotter and conclusions are jumped to faster.

Yet outside of this vast world wide webbing we continue to chug along seemingly unaffected by the words we just cemented forever into cyberspace. When we chop down that tree in the forrest, we just ignore the sound it makes.

Which brings me to my point, I want to bring this issue and argument offline. I want to meet the Food Babe, sit down and have a beer with her and talk like two adults should. Instead of attacking her, I want to hear her out. In return, I want her to hear an educated opinion on the issues she is bringing up. She is clearly passionate about her work so why not give her the opportunity to share that passion with someone who’s passion she is attacking?

Food Babe, if you are ever in Chicago, feel free to drop me a line. I know a lot of good places to grab a beer!

And the first round is on me. Cheers!

PS - I realize the irony that I poke fun of beer geeks on this blog. Keep in mind, though, that everything I have posted here I am guilty of as well and have been pretty open about that. How else do you think I get most of my ideas?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

I Hardly Knew Ye

The problem with traveling is that you aren’t as inclined to stay up on current events. Your first day back from the road is often spent with a laptop in hand (and, in my case, a beer in the other) catching up on what you missed while you were gone. 

Today I found out the sad news of the passing of one of my idols, Jack Joyce. Joyce was the founder of Rogue Ales & Spirits and one of the pioneers in the craft beer industry. I can whole heartedly say that Rogue is one of the few craft breweries that left an enormous impact on my life and is partly responsible for shaping who I am today.

Long has Rogue been one of my favorite breweries. There is only one brewery on the planet that I have tasted more different beers from (and that is only because that brewery is around the corner from where I live). One fourth of my empty beer bottle collection I have up on shelves in my apartment consists of Rogue beer. Whenever I see a new beer from Rogue on the shelves at my local beer store, chances are I am going to buy it.

I never met Jack Joyce, yet he made an impact on my life. Think about that. I NEVER met this guy but who he is and what he did helped change my direction in life. Sitting here now typing this, it is hard to comprehend that.

Jack Joyce was one of the people I always wanted to have a beer with. The chance to drink a pint, share a laugh and engage in a good conversation. I’ll never get the opportunity to do that. I wish I did.

In the spirit of his passing, I’ve decided to actively pursue and try to convince some of my idols in the beer industry to sit down and have a pint with me. I couldn’t think of anything better than sharing a beer with the likes of Pete Brown, Randy Mosher, Marcy and Geoff Larson, Stan Hieronymus, Father and Son Van Roy and so on. If any of these “dream pints” were to happen, those moments would surely rank among the best in my life.

Cheers to Jack Joyce and to Rogue. 

I hope the bar in the next life isn’t crowded because the first one’s on me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

There is no "I" in Communty.

Craft beer.

Recently there have been a flood of articles trying to define just exactly what “craft beer” is. Just in the past two years, we’ve heard opinions from respected industry veterans, rants from the passionate overseas enthusiasts and even seen the definition provided by a popular trade organization change. My personal favorite definition came from another beer blogger who defined craft beer as “anything that tasted like grapefruit.” If it didn’t taste like grapefruit, it wasn’t craft beer.

Clearly THIS is the best definition to date offered.

In the midst of all the arguments we forgot one important thing, what craft beer represents. We could argue for hours that a brewery isn’t craft if it uses “adjuncts” (which for some reason has gained a negative connotation even though it shouldn’t have), is owned by one of those giant overseas breweries or produces more than a certain amount of barrels per year. 


Instead, we should be focusing on craft beer and what it represents.


My girlfriend and I recently moved. Instead of getting a root canal, I thought it would be more fun to pack up everything we own and literally move down the street. (See first article written that describes Steve’s genius ideas and insert this one alongside those). Always more pleasant than the move itself is asking some of your friends to help. It’s like sending them a letter saying they have to report to jury duty.

About a week before the move, two people that I have come to known in the past couple of years offered to help. Two people that I met solely because of craft beer.

The first runs a local neighborhood family liquor store called Vas Foremost. His name is Pete. I started going to Vas Foremost because it is one of the best places to buy craft beer in the area. Over the three years that I have been going there, Pete and I have developed a friendship. I go into his store often to not only re-stock my fridge but to “shoot the shit” about life. At times, I’ll spend an hour inside of his store talking with him about nothing related to beer at all.

Pete is a busy guy. He has four kids and works more than almost anyone I know. The fact that he offered what little free time he had to help us move speaks volumes about the kind of man he is.

The second person who helped us out is Jeremy. Jeremy is another craft beer geek that I met years ago via a beer trade. Since then, Jeremy and I have become good friends, all because of our common passion. Even though our passion takes on different forms, we both highly respect each other because of this thing we both love. I look to Jeremy for all of those incredibly tasting, highly sought-after beers that I have never heard of that he has. Jeremy looks to me for my love of knowledge and the old world styles. 

Both of these friendships developed and continued over the years because they are rooted in craft beer.

That is what craft beer is to me and that is how I define it. Craft beer creates friendships and a community. It brings people together through the love of a beverage created from four primary ingredients. Dark Lord Day. Homebrew clubs. Bottle shares. Beer-pairing dinners. Online forums. Trading. Beer tourism. All of these things create a shared common bond that one can never understand unless they are a part of it.

Last year, my girlfriend and I went to Cantillon in Belgium. While we were there we met two other American couples and started an impromptu bottle-sharing event. Each couple took turns purchasing bottles available and then shared them with the rest of the group. It was one of the best days of my life.


Craft beer is finally defined.

You’re welcome.