I chatted with northern California writer Merideth, about her new book Teachings From the Tap: Life Lessons From Our Year in Beer (Beer Trekker Press, 2012), as well as her thoughts on West Coast craft beer.
Beer West: What first got you interested in beer and writing about beer?
Merideth: My husband Chris, and I were lucky enough to live in Oakland in the early 1990s. This was a time when “micro-brewed” beer was gaining momentum. Turning 21 in the right place at the right time was the perfect combination for becoming a craft beer lover. Writing about our beer travels came about five years ago. We already offered blogs and videos on our website thebeekgeek.com and writing a book was an outlet for telling more personal, in-depth stories about our beer travel experiences.
BW: What have you learned about both yourself and beer while writing this book?
M: Over the years we have met some truly amazing beer people—beer experts, judges, and industry historians, as well as brewers and home brewers. As a beer traveler I didn’t fit into any of these established niches and it left me questioning what I had to offer the beer community. While writing the book, I came to understand and embrace my unique contribution. Through telling tales of our beer travels, I could hopefully inspire others to discover their own beer adventures.
BW: What was the most influential moment during your beer travels?
M: In 1998, Chris and I traveled to Ireland, our first overseas adventure. We left just after Christmas, the weather was cold, rainy, and windy, but it couldn’t have been more perfect. Enjoying a Guinness in a cozy Irish pub with a turf burning stove showed us the importance of drinking a beer within its own context. We instantly fell in love with international travel and have been over seas more than two dozen times since then.
BW: What inspired you to begin this journey?
M: In the early 1990s, I worked at Barclay’s Restaurant & Pub in Oakland, one of the first multi-taps in the Bay Area. I wanted to be knowledgeable about the 28 rotating beers I served, so my husband suggested visiting the breweries. Our travels started out as day trips and weekend getaways, and then expanded across the country and eventually to international destinations. Over 700 breweries later, it’s safe to say that our beer travel is a full-blown obsession.
BW: Out of the 700 breweries that you have visited around the world, which is your favorite?
M: Andechs, located south of Munich, is my all-time favorite. I am extremely partial to Bavarian culture, food, and beer, and Andechs embodies all those things. We have visited during the winter when snow covers the ground, the air is crisp, and the small crowd gathered inside sports an average age of 70. We have also been there in the summer when the sun-filled patio is jam-packed with young, jubilant tourists. Always a fun time!
BW: What is your favorite West Coast brewery and beer?
M: Magnolia in San Francisco is the whole package—fantastic beer, remarkable food, and an amazing location. They’ve created a neo-hippie atmosphere without smelling like patchouli. My favorite beer tends to rotate with the seasons, but a perennial favorite is Magnolia’s Kalifornia Kölsch. It’s a clean brew with a refreshing flavor and nothing to hide.
Check out Merideth’s book Teachings From the Tap: Life Lessons From Our Year in Beer (Beer Trekker Press, 2012) available on Amazon now. Stay updated with Merideth, her husband Chris, and all things beer at thebeergeek.com.