After a small blog hiatus I’m back with an interview with The Thirsty Wench (aka Robin). I met Robin at a Barleys’ Angels event.
And here some more from my fellow blogger:
1. When and how did you start getting into beer?
Gods…it must have been about early 2009. Before then I was a bit of a wine snob and didn’t really have that much beer. I was at someone’s house and their roommate burst in to the room with a wild look in his eyes. “You HAVE to try this beer!” he said to us. As we were sipping it, he told us about the beer, the Trappist brew Chimay Red, and explained the process and philosophy of the monks. After that it turned into expeditions to BarVolo which turned in to purchasing books which turned in to where I’m at now. I think most people who are in to craft beer agree that it really is kind of a rabbit hole you fall into.
2. What made you start the Thirsty Wench blog?
A big part of it was because I sort of became “that friend” who people asked to order beers for them at pubs and who always brought “the good stuff” to parties. It got to the point where I got texts and e-mails from friends around the world saying “Robin! I’m in a bar! What should I have? PDF of the menu attached!”. So there being a kind of demand for information from people I knew led me to start-up a blog.
Another big part of why I started The Thirsty Wench was to record my own explorations in beer. This was a world that I was just discovering and seemed to have no end of cool stuff to learn. I wanted to write all that down for my own benefit as well as the benefit of people on their own explorations.
3. From reading your blog I see that you have tried home brewing? What was your first experience like? Do you have plans on making another beer?
My first experience was actually a lot of fun! I got a brewing starter’s kit for my birthday and it came with a Coopers Dark Ale malt extract kit. It was easy, fun and at the end of it I had a beer that I could proudly say that I made.
Since then I’ve made a couple of other beers. One being an All-Grain clone beer of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard that I called Audacious Bitch which…didn’t go well at all. Sadly, I had to dump it. But the beer after that, a Pumpkin Ale I called Pumpkin Patch Panic ended up being quite a success. With both of those brews a REALLY fun part was commissioning artist friends to design the label with my direction in mind. Both of them turned out great and I’ll be using them again.
And yes, I do have plans on making more beer! A friend of mine and I recently came up with an idea for a Ginseng Imperial Pilsner, I want to perfect the recipe a bit for Pumpkin Patch Panic and I’d just feel bad if I didn’t make a Russian Imperial Stout. I’ve got some ideas floating about!
4. Recently you have been on Rogers TV talking about some summer beers. Tell us more about that experience.
It was a total pleasure. I’ve been on Rogers Daytime Toronto one other time and both times have been a thrill for me. Hosts Val Cole and Glenn Dixon are total pros and asked all the right questions and I got to introduce them, along with the crew and a very large number of viewers, that there are excellent and different beers right out there in their local LCBO.
Easily though, one of my favourite parts about going on Daytime Toronto is afterwards when crew members and even Val and Glenn come up to me saying “I had no idea beer was so diverse!” and ask questions about the brewing process and for recommendations. Nothing makes me smile more.
5. Have you ever converted a ‘non-beer’ drinker to beer? What types of beers did you introduce them to?
You know, I read once that when a person says “I don’t like beer” what they really mean is “I don’t like the beer that I’ve had so far”. With all the many different styles, it’s not hard to imagine that there’s a beer out there for everyone and so far that’s been accurate with the people I’ve “converted”.
What works for me a lot is to figure out a flavour they’re normally used to with beer and give them a beer in that style that just turns the flavour profile up to 11. You know someone that likes Molson? Give them a Pilsner Urquell (brewed in the birthplace of the Pilsner style). They prefer Guinness? Give them a Fuller’s London Porter and so on and so forth.
But while some people like the “easing in to it” method, sometimes going to the extremes in flavours works well too. Sour beers, lambics, IPAs…they can just get people interested. My big “initiation” beers have been some very fine Belgian beers. Westmalle Tripel, for instance, is a beer that I like giving people. Most of them give this amazing look of surprise and delight after having a sip.
6. What are you favorite beers this summer?
Well, it’s only just now July, but the beers I’m enjoying so far are Muskoka Summer Weiss, Kwak, Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA, Dieu du Ciel Rosée D’hibiscus and Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA. That barely covers it, but there’s still plenty of summer left and plenty of beers out there!
7. What are some of your beer events in the city you look forward to the most?
Cask Days (happening Oct. 2012) is a must for me. I had such a fun time there last year. Other events are of course Toronto Beer Fest, Session 99 and a lot of the MANY awesome things going on during Ontario Craft Beer Week and Toronto Beer Week.
8. What is your ideal pub?
I was raised with an English background and grew up to appreciate how lovely a nice quiet pint could be. So I usually like my pubs to not be so crowded and loud and prefer them to be dark, spaced out and quiet, so I can have a conversation or just think.
9. Do you have any personal beer goals/resolutions? (ie. Attending a certain beer fest, learning more about beer, beer destination etc.)
Well, I’d like to see if I can get in to Niagara College’s brewing course and ideally, be a brewer. Personally I’d like to own a brewpub, serving beers both made by myself and by other local and international breweries.
Short term, I’d just love to try as many brews as possible and learn more about this wonderful world. Going to Belgium on a beer tour would also be an absolute treat.
10. Any beer trends you predict for Canada 2012? Or any trends in beer you would like to see?
I think we’ll just be seeing craft beer get bigger and bigger and more experimental and unique beers will be coming out. The craft beer explosion of the past three years has been interesting to watch, but I really can’t wait to see just how big it’s going to get and how much more accessible it will be for people.
Make sure you check out The Thirsty Wench blog to learn more about beer!