HUNTER/Gatherer #10 — Andrew Wright

Andrew Wright is a former New York stater, now Chicagoan, currently enjoying the bounty of our city’s craft beer boon. Andrew is an illustrator for hire, has a great blog, and has produced phenomenal creative work for the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Saturday Evening Post, Wired and Field & Stream. Next up for Andrew? He’ll be contributing to Good Beer Hunting magazine for our first issue lined up to release this fall. 

We first met over email when Andrew wanted to discuss the finer points of aesthetics and craft beer. My post on Solemn Oath’s taproom caught his attention and he lamented why more beer meccas didn’t put in the time and effort to create more environments like theirs. Most recently we met up at Atlas Brewpub on Lincoln Ave. to share a pint, concept the magazine artwork and I snapped this photo of Andrew throwing back a Naiad Summer IPA. 

What’s your favorite beer style and particular beer?

Beer styles are like food for me. The seasons determine my cravings. There have been a few instances that I’ve taken a sip of a beer and thought to myself: “This would be fantastic if it were 20 degrees and snowing… but its 90 degrees and this thing weighs a ton.” In those situations I usually make a mental note to retry that beer during the appropriate season. Also, being new to the craft world I am still exploring what’s out there. It being summer at the moment anything that falls around 6% abv is fair game. Obviously there have been exceptions. My favorite beer this summer was Boulevard’s Saison-Brett from their Smokestack Series, which goes above the afore mentioned criteria by a whopping 2.5%. Like I said. I’m new. I have to try them all.

What’s in your fridge right now?

I just got back from vacation so my fridge is abnormally sparse. Only a couple cans of Indie Pale Ale from Cisco Brewers grace the top shelf, which is dedicated to beer and meat. An appropriate relationship I think. Central Waters is usually a constant. They have a fantastic range that accommodates my seasonal beverage taste. Their Bourbon Barrel series is my winter time favorite.

What was the first beer that clued you in?

I was living in Richmond, VA in 2010 sharing a studio with a painter by the name of Josh George. He introduced me to European wine and beer, all sorts of awesome food, and the finer points of making coffee and drinking espresso. It was only then that I started to invest time in to educating my self on those subjects. There was a shop around the corner from my place that had a good selection of beer. Once a week I would walk over and grab something I hand’t tried. Richmond, although small in comparison to Chicago, has a solid food scene and an excellent selection of craft beer. Looking back it was kind of like boot camp for my palette. So to say one particular beer clued me in would be unfair. The fact that I found out that everything out there could be better than what I was used to is what clued me in.

What’s your most memorable beer moment?

Late last year I picked up a bottle of FiftyFifty’s Eclipse Four Roses Single Barrel. At the time it was the most expensive bottle of beer I had purchased. Naturally I was saving it for a special occasion so it was added to my mini beer cellar in my closet. I feared it was ruined after I tried another bottle from the closet a few weeks later that had definitely been “cooked” from the inconsistent temperature in my apartment. Still, I risked it and waited. In March I finished up the biggest job I had ever received that spanned five months of non stop work. I figured that was an appropriate time to break the wax. It was… magical. A hefty Imperial Stout, complex as all get-out, and everything I had hoped it would be. It is still one of the happiest moments I’ve had drinking a beer. Not only because I had just finished a creatively satisfying job but because it was the exact beer for that moment. Nothing else would have been right. I look forward to that perfect storm again.

What was your greatest beer hunt

I’m from a small town in upstate New York that is devoid of any craft. The drive to the nearest airport is 2 hours. Last winter I went to visit and did some research to find a store where I could stock up on beer for the week long trip. Luckily there was a store that had a good selection on the way from the airport to my hometown. My parents picked me up at the airport and we embarked on the drive across winding country roads. My father knows the north country well as does my mother. The distance between the airport and the store wasn’t far but the route to take there was contested by each of  them. It became the stereotypical mother/father argument on directions lasting a good 15 minutes. It was hilarious. Once a route was decided we took it only to find that there was a car accident closing the main road. What should have been a 15 minute drive turned in to an hour. We finally got there, I stocked up, and we headed home. One day later I get food poisoning and am laid up in bed for the entire trip. Not one beer was opened.

Favorite watering hole?

Local Option because it challenges me to know my shit. If I go in there and get flustered with the chalkboard or bottle list, I’d better be ready to hear it. I love that place.

What’s a beer on your wish list?

Pliny the Younger mainly because I feel like it isn’t too unattainable, yet I have to be at Russian River at the precisely right time.

Michael Kiser