It looks like the good folks at Mr. Beer have decided to take a chance on me as the next brewer to carry the monthly torch. I'm honored and humbled to follow in the steps of some of the brewers on this forum who have provided such truly great advice and wisdom on all things beer.
From the time I was a child, I have associated beer with good things. Not that I was much of a drinker when I was six or seven, but the best memories I have as a youngster were our summertime trips to the Wisconsin northwoods, and to my grandparents' farm in Bangor Michigan.
I don't remember much about beer from the farm, but our parents, aunts, uncles and all the fun people they brought to the Wisconsin lakeside to swim, ski, and shoot (beer cans thrown over the lake naturally) often had an Old Style or two within eyesight. Since everything we were doing was fun (of course we kids weren't allowed near the shotguns), and beer was there; well it only followed that beer had to be fun too. As it happens, one day I asked my Mom if I could have the beer sitting on the porch rail (I was pretty bold as a seven year old). She thought it was just an empty can and didn't realize it was freshly opened, and said "Sure, go ahead". That's when I learned that my earlier impression was true; beer was indeed fun. I loved it. Fortunately for my liver, and probably my childhood survival, I was pretty much kept away from the malt pop after that until I could finagle it as a....er, mischievous teenager.
How long have you been brewing?
I've had a latent interest in brewing for the past thirty years. For much of that time though, there was always something more important to do, and besides, brewing seemed a bit like some sort of intimidating strange alchemy. I bought a book on brewing around fifteen years ago, but it was written in the days before no rinse sanitizer, and the whole bleach regimen seemed like a real pain, so I kept putting it off. On Christmas 2009, I opened a Mr. Beer kit from my wife (she's awesome), and had a beer going the very next day. It wasn't long before I had three "little brown kegs", and a growing collection of beer related detritus filling our office. It's only gotten worse, with 50 pound bags of grain, 20 cases of bottles, and a belly that won't shrink. I sometimes suspect that she has second thoughts about her gift, but then she buys me more stuff (I love the Mr. Beer growlers), so I think I'm okay. Brewing still seems like some sort of magical alchemy, but now I get to be the alchemist.
What is your favorite beer?
My tastes have changed over time, and probably will again, but my current favorites are Stone Ruination Ale, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, and Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Three Floyd's Alpha King share a space.
Who would you most like to share a beer with?
The gentleman pictured above, my Grandpa Ernie. He was a treasure trove of knowledge and history, and actively loving life into his nineties. The picture was taken in Nepal when he was in his mid eighties. I hope I'm as hale and hearty at that age. It would have been fun to have him critique my homebrew, which is why I sent his picture. Looking at myself every day for a month would make me grumpy.