In “Meet a Member,” we highlight the people who make up the North American Guild of Beer Writers. It’s a chance to learn more about the wide collection of journalists, podcasters, bloggers, and vloggers who cover the industry. See and archive of these Q&A profiles.
Where can people find you on social media?
Where can people find your work?
Craft Beer and Brewing, the Brewing Industry Guide (published by Craft Beer and Brewing), local publications in Calgary, Alberta, and, from time to time, any other publication that will pay me. My website is www.thedonofbeer.com. And I’m starting a monthly newsletter. People can sign up here: https://tinyletter.com/TheDonOfBeer.
What topics do you regularly cover?
Beer and lifestyle, yeast and fermentation, malt, industry updates.
What topics would you like to cover more in the future?
How beer intersects with art (visual art, particularly, but also music, dance and other forms of art). Beer at its finest is art itself and I used to write a regular column where I paired a beer or beer style with a painting or an art movement. That was a lot of fun and I’d love to do that again.
People should consider me an expert on ____ … and why:
Malt and grains. I live in Canada’s barley belt and can totally geek out on barley varieties, free amino nitrogen, lodging, tillers, saladin boxes and how small maltsters can revive agricultural communities. Some people are saying “malt is the new hops” but I think that’s underselling it. New varieties of barley and craft maltsters won’t just offer new flavours and tools for brewers, they could revive small farms and rural communities. I think a better analogy would be that “malt is the new craft beer.” The way craft beer regentrified communities and created whole new industries (small brewery manufacturers, small distributors, etc.), craft malt has the potential to do the same.
What’s a favorite thing you’ve created in the last year?
Over the past year (and the preceding 20+ years), I’ve created a personal database (which I called “Dontappd”) of 24,719 (as of the time I’m writing this) different beers I’ve tasted. It includes not only my own sensory experience, but notes on ingredients (malt and hop varieties, water chemistry, etc.) and brewing process (mash and fermentation temperatures, when hop additions are made, etc.) so I can train my palate. I know it’s not something I created in “the last year,” but it is a lifetime of work and I’m super proud of it.
What’s the last great thing you read or heard? (beer or not)
One of my favourite artists is Chuck Close. His paintings are representational, in that his portraits actually look like their subjects, but his work is highly conceptual. His art is all about process. I’ve read a few books about Chuck Close, but I recently read “Chuck Close – Work”, which really got into his work as a body, rather than just the individual paintings. It’s the companion book to “Chuck Close – Life”, but you don’t need to read that one (in fact, unless you’re really a fan of Chuck Close, I recommend people don’t read Life).
What’s a fun fact, hidden talent, or something you enjoy that has nothing to do with beer?
I was an alternate on the Canadian Mathematics Olympiad Team. I still love math. I collect things that are Pi related. I love recreational mathematics. Yes, there is such a thing as recreational mathematics. The same way there are people who just love reading, I love doing math problems. Wipe that look off your face. I’m being serious.
Also, I once was on The Price Is Right. I won my showcase, including an Audi. But that’s not as exciting as math.