Who is Bobby and Why Does He Like Beer?
I can still remember the first moment when a beer made me say 'wow'. I was 23 years old and I tried my first Bell's Expedition Stout. The flavors literally jumped out of the bottle. I couldn't believe a beer could be so powerful but feature so much finesse and depth. I was in awe of the epitome of craftsmanship that the legendary American take on the Russian Imperial Stout exhibited in every way. I was never the same. Beer became a full-blown passion of mine and I started an expedition of my own.
Come to think of it, even before that moment, I had learned to appreciate the better beers in life. It wasn't like the Bell's Expedition was lightning in a bottle, more of an epiphany that was years in the making. See, I had been dabbling in craft beer or microbrew (or whatever it was called at the time) since I was old enough to drink legally (and, honestly a bit before that - kids, don't follow that example, it was a different time). Being in New Orleans for college meant Abita was always available, and I certainly preferred the taste of a Turbodog to average college swill. I loved walking to Elio's, a beer store in the uptown neighborhood by Tulane University, and picking out a new bottle or two to try. Rogue, Samuel Smith and Sierra Nevada were always just so much more special and flavorful than the Molson Ice everyone else was drinking at parties.
When I graduated and left New Orleans behind, I headed to Arizona for a short while and first learned about Brewery culture. I spent evenings at the Flagstaff Brewing Company and enjoyed the activity and conversations as much as the selection of fresh beer. When I returned to Cleveland, where I was born and raised, Great Lakes Brewery was in full swing and making their mark on the city. I remember picking up my first growler there - it was Burning River - and thinking it was the bitterest beer I'd ever had. In a good way, of course!
I was hooked, but I wasn't completely impassioned about better beer. One day, while looking through the six packs of Bell's beer in the local Mustard Seed market, I came across a plain white carrier with stickers on the side that said 'Expedition'. I took a chance on the $14.99 six pack, and, well, I already shared what happened next - history!
From that day on, I've been seeking out trying beers from all over the country. I've visited over 100 breweries and probably tried over 5000 different beers from all over the US and the world. I love all kinds of beer - fresh Lagers, Belgians, hoppy Double IPA's, Barleywines, Sours and Stouts. I've brewed many batches myself and have made several better beer bars and breweries my weekend hangout. I'd be remiss to not mention I met my wife at a brewery (the legendary Brew Keeper) and she's wonderful enough to join me on many of my beer related journeys.
Many friends have told me I help take the fear out of trying new beer. My secret is I let people drink what they like and let them pick the path that is right for them. Being a "beer snob" is never a good thing if it means belittling others for being individuals. I see myself as more of a beer evangelist. I feel fortunate that my passion can inspire others. Remember, in the end, you have every right to enjoy what you like - don't let anyone tell you differently. But never be afraid to try something new. That's half the fun of living in this age of the second American beer revolution. If you settle for less than the best (for you), you'll miss out. The beer revolution will not be televised. But it may be coming to a website near you!
With that in mind, I am producing articles on this website in the hopes that I can inspire you to think a bit more about the options that are available to you in today's beer market. Since it's hard to get started or figure out what to try next, I hope to be a guide when you need one on your journey to beer nirvana. I also hope to save my readers some hard earned money along the way, by illuminating some pitfalls in the path. But I'm ultimately just sharing my opinions - decide for yourself!
I hope to give Cleveland locals some insight into what's going on around town and what's new on the shelves of our better beer stores. Cleveland has one of the best beer scenes in the country - don't let anyone tell you otherwise. With that in mind, I hope to do justice to the thriving culture and give coverage to the great events people work so hard to bring us here.
Hopefully you'll enjoy the content on my website and you'll be inspired. Remember to respect beer and respect yourself - drink in moderation and savor the flavor, so to speak. By digging a little deeper and looking past the messages the huge Budweiser-Miller-Coors types of companies literally try to jam down our throats (complete with vortex bottles for easy inundation), we can collectively escape the herd mentality and select products made with passion, craftsmanship and integrity.
Please leave comments on my site if you like an article or if you disagree with my opinion - I welcome all your feedback. Interact with me on Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to sharing my next 'wow' moment with you. And, if it hasn't happened to you yet, keep reading and searching with an open mind. There's a perfect beer out there for everyone, and most of the fun is in the journey not just the destination! Cheers!!