I'm lucky to have one of the best drinking buddies on the planet in Hillary Schuster. She's been with me when we discovered Greenbush Brewery a week before it opened, drank port and Super Bock with me along the rocky shores of Portugal, trekked into the forests of Sweden with a mesh bag of craft cans to chill in the creek, and generally charmed the hell out of every craft beer geek, brewer and bartender we've met. She's my wife, and she's my Valentine. So while it may be long overdue, it's also perfect timing to get her HUNTER/Gatherer outlook on the world of craft beer.
What's your favorite beer and style?
I'm not sure I have one favorite style, but I like big, sharp beers--often on the bitter side. I gravitate towards maltier IPAs, or a red rye. I don't like marzens or oktoberfests very much (they are too sweet and flat for me). One of my top favorites is Dark Horse Raspberry Ale. It sounds insanely girly but it's really bright, summery and drinkable.
What's in your fridge right now?
It's pretty full but with mostly special stuff, I think. Whenever I look in the fridge (if I don't already know that there's beer that I've bought), I have to search for something common or in duplicates, so that I know it's okay to drink it. Right now there's a bunch of bombers that I brought Michael back from Boston, 3 bottles of Vander Mill cider, Serendipity (New Glarus) that we got up in Wisconsin last weekend, Firestone Wookey Jack, Stone Cali-Belgique IPA...and some tiny shorties for Bloody Mary chasers (Rhinelander Export). But what can I drink?!
There's also tons of stuff NOT in the fridge.
What was the first beer that clued you in?
We drank a ton of Oberon in college (at the University of Michigan), but that never seemed particularly special or unique--just better than the other stuff. The first beer that really stands out, if I remember this correctly, was Bell's Special Double Cream Stout. Sophomore and Junior year I lived in this giant U-shaped building. We were having a courtyard party, so we gave this guy Brody $100 to go get beer. He came back with ONE keg of the stout. We decided not to serve general party-goers such good beer, so we took the keg up to our apartment, got some generic beer for the courtyard and would go refill our glasses with Bell's from our apartment. It was very good and we got very drunk.
What's your most memorable beer moment?
It's kind of hard to pinpoint ONE memorable moment. Honestly, almost every memorable moment in the past 5 years included beer. One of the cool things about my life, being married to Michael, is that I get to have all of these adventures and make all of these new (sometimes best) friends because of beer. I think going to Sweden last year was particularly unique. We visited "the tiniest brewery in Sweden" (one hip dude making beer), met a few bloggers for a beer picnic, got recognized and made friends at a bar, drank beer in a grass hut and attended a major beer festival. It's a pretty great way to travel and live.
What's your favorite watering hole?
I really like Watershed. It's a confluence of everything I'm looking for in a bar: good food and drink, convenient (it's one of the only bars I like to go to downtown), quiet enough that you can make easy conversation, and just popular enough that it doesn't feel lame, but you can usually get a seat. All of the beers are from the Great Lakes region and they have a great bluegrass duo that plays on Thursdays.
What was your greatest beer hunt?
Oh, man. We go on so many beer adventures, it's hard to narrow it down. I think my favorite beer hunt ever was the day in Oregon when we took off from Portland and drove to the coast to visit Pelican. It was a dreary day and we just hopped in the car. Michael had been there before and after hanging out for a bit, he got it in his head that we'd drive down to Rogue, too. It was literally a whole day of driving around the state to hit up two brew pubs. It was amazing.
What's a beer on your wishlist?
Any beer I might potentially consume IN Belgium.