1. So, what first got you into beer? And why do you love it so much?
The beer that started it all was Sam Adams White Ale (they don't make it anymore sadly). It wasn't bitter, it was inviting and spicy. I can remember that day in 2006 when I had it for the first time like it was yesterday. After I had that beer, I just wanted to keep trying beer.
I love beer because it invokes a whole rainbow of flavor, experience, taste. There's a beer for everyone. Sour, sweet, bitter, juicy, rubbery (yes, rubbery!), beer can be good with brunch, beach, fancy parties, Thanksgiving -- this list could continue into infinity.
2. Tell us about the Advanced Cicerone. You mentioned on your blog, Pints and Panels, that you’re studying for it. With this certification how will you add to your wealth of knowledge about great beer and how will you better be able to tell us about it?
The Cicerone is a relatively new program that mimics the sommelier program for wine. Like the sommelier program, there are four levels of distinction - Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, Advanced Cicerone and Master Cicerone. I became a Certified Cicerone in 2015, which is a tough four hour written, oral and tasting exam. The Advanced is double the time with much more emphasis on tasting plus technical brewing science. My phone can now write beta amylase and vorlaufing without autocorrecting. Should I pass (and only 11% of people pass the first time) and even by simply studying, I feel like I have gained a whole host of knowledge about malt production, pH of water chemistry, maturation times....beer is a very difficult beverage to brew and get right. It's given me a much deeper appreciation for the liquid.
3. Looks like the whole beer reviewing business started with your blog, Pints and Panels, back in 2010. Are there really that many types of beer and breweries out there to review?
Oh my - yes! Two new breweries open every day in America and we now have over 5000 breweries in this country alone. I have reviewed about 600-700 beers during my seven plus years working on my website but I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface. In my home state of CT, there are now over 50 working breweries with 20 more in planning.
4. Why should the average consumer try different breweries and beers? Why not just stick with the average mass-produced beers? Isn’t beer just beer?
Average mass-produced beers are just that -- average mass-produced beers. Once you step outside that small, slightly sweet and slightly bitter box, the world of beer is vast and huge, almost feeling infinite. When I say that "Beer is for Everyone" -- I really mean it. Beer can fit every niche that people are looking for.
5. Do you have any all time favorites out there that stand out as being spectacular?
I don't really have a favorites list. With so many beers available now, if I keep going back to it, then that's a stellar product (and there are many out there).