Blogger Spotlight- The Beer Wench

Welcome back for another splendid installment of Blogger Spotlight! This week we highlight an extremely successful West Coast blogger. Let’s meet her! Ashley had done a spotlight on me so I wanted to return the favor and ask some hard hitting questions back 🙂


First things first


Blog Name: Drink With The Wench
Blog Address: http://drinkwiththewench.com
Twitter/Facebook?: Twitter = @TheBeerWench, @TheVinoVixen, @TheHoparazzi Facebook = facebook.com/thebeerwench
Blog Location: Napa, CA


Let’s get personal


Name: Ashley V Routson (yes, I adamantly embrace my middle initial)
Age: 27
Where did you grow up?: About 60 miles north of Manhattan in the historical town of Montgomery, NY.


To the blog!


Describe the name of you blog
Originally, my blog was called “The Beer Wench” — but that URL was taken. The current title of my blog derives from the name of the beer events I used to host when I first started blogging. I would invite people to come out and “Drink With The Wench” — so there you have it.

How long have you been blogging?
This is uber exciting! My site is rapidly approaching its 3rd anniversary. My first post dates back to February 7, 2008. It is amazing to think of how far I have come in the past three years — wow.

Why did you chose to blog?
I blog, therefore I am. In all seriousness, I’ve always been some sort of a writer. I first discovered the magic of blogging from my brilliant mentor and ex “boss”, Artie Isaac, who maintains, in my opinion, one of the most inspirational, intellectually stimulating and creative blogs on the interwebs. One day I said to him, “I’m thinking about starting a blog.” His response was “stop thinking.” So I manned up and started a site called Hazy Stars with the mantra “I write like I talk. I talk like I think. I think way too much.” Although I loved maintaining that blog, my focus was really random and too broad. I felt like I needed to hone in on a single topic. Seeing as how I had been studying wine for some time, my first inclination was to start a wine blog. That’s right folks, this wench was originally a oenophile. Lucky for me (in retrospect), someone else in Columbus, OH decided to start a wine blog around the exact time I wanted to start mine. He was older, way more learned, and had an epic wine cellar. I knew that I could not compete and, out of intimidation, I opted to start a blog about my other passion — craft beer. And the rest is, well, history.

What is the coolest thing that has happened since you have been blogging?
Where do I start? There have been several defining benchmarks along the way. Most of them have to do with meeting extraordinary people in the craft beer industry. I cannot even begin to list these people, for fear that I would forget someone. Many of these people have become friends and mentors. Because I think they deserve mention, I will name the people that have made the biggest impact on me as a both a person and as a beer professional: Julia Herz, Lucy Saunders, Stephen Beaumont, Fred Bueltmann, Ray Daniels, Dr. Bill Sysak, Daniel Del Grande, Stephen Johnson, and Greg Koch — who was the first “major” beer personality to really “acknowledge” my presence in the industry (although, I’m quite certain he regrets it by now). In addition to meeting phenomenal beer, I’ve also been afforded the opportunity to travel to many amazing beer events, conferences, and dinners as a result of my site. I have also been lucky enough to have tasted some of the craziest, rare and most delicious beers in the world as well as have had several opportunities to work in breweries of all sizes all over the country. But, if I was to pick just one highlight of the past three years, it would have to be my brewing experience with New Holland Brewing Company. For some odd reason, the cool cats over a NHBC were crazy enough to let some esoteric beer writer and wannabe brewer help design a recipe and brew a beer to be released at a party at THE beer bar of all beer bars during the Great American Beer Festival.


Beer Me


Favorite Beer (Top 3 if you can’t decide on 1)
Aw come on! This is the hardest question you can ask a beer blogger. Top 3 favorite styles = gueuze, saison and West Coast IPA. Now, having said that. If I really had to pick just one beer, based on flavor, history and its story I would choose Orval. Orval is the only beer in the world that is its own style category. It is a beer that constantly evolves in the bottle. No bottle of Orval is the same. It is spicy, earthy, funky and very unique. The story surrounding its origins is very romantic and mystical. I often use Orval as a metaphor for my own life.

Favorite Beer experience
Wow. I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the sky. Some of my all time favorite beer experiences = San Diego Beer Week 2009 (words can not express the experiences I had on this trip), brewing Mutinous Battle Chai, working the bottling line at The Bruery, interviewing Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, all of my memories with Stephen Johnson of New Brew Thursday, the Great American Beer Festival (everything about it — speaking on a panel, meeting all the best brewers in the world, dinners with some of the industry bigwigs, Dr. Bill’s rare beer tasting, all of the before and after parties… omg and the list goes on), the inaugural Beer Bloggers Conference, all of my brewdays… there are just way too many phenomenal experiences to list!

5 Favorite Beer Blogs/Sites
Uh oh. This could get me in trouble. But, I will take one for the team! Here they are, no order: CraftBeer.Com, BeerNews.Org, New Brew Thursday, The Hoparazzi (another one of my ventures in progress), The Brettanomyces Project.

Do you use any Beer App?
This is very awkward. Why? Because I have several friends that have developed amazing beer apps — non of which I use on a loyal basis. Although, I have downloaded most of them and definitely recognize their value, but for some reason I don’t use them. Mostly because my life is very chaotic and needs streamlining. This is why I stick to Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Favorite Food/Beer Pairing
This is tough. Beer and food pairings are my forte. I would have to say that bleu cheese with a bourbon-aged imperial stout is one of the best pairings in the world.

Are you a homebrewer? Any aspirations of becoming one?
Yes! I just launched a new homebrew club in Napa. Our first beer is an organic Chocolate Stout based on the recipe from Bison Brewing. I took about a gallon of the wort and put it in a seperate fermenting vessel with Brettanomyces that I took from a bottle of Russian River Santification. Really excited to see how it turns out!

Favorite Bar
Depends on the city. And even then, it is hard to really choose just one. Here is a little break down:

  • NYC: Blind Tiger, Rattle N’ Hum, Pony Bar
  • San Francisco: Toronado, City Beer Store, Rosemunde’s
  • Oakland: Beer Revolution, Commonwealth
  • Columbus: Bodega, Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails
  • Orlando: Red Light, Red Light
  • St. Petersburg: The Independent
  • Chicago: Delilah’s, Small Bar, The Bottom Lounge, Piece, Hopleaf, The Map Room, Revolution
  • San Diego: Blind Lady Ale House, Toronado, Hamilton’s
  • Los Angeles (area): Blue Palms Brew House, The Library Ale House, Father’s Office
  • Denver: Falling Rock Taphouse, Star Bar, Freshcraft
  • Boulder: Mountain Sun Brewpub
  • Austin: Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que, The Draught House
  • New Orleans: The Avenue Pub, Snake & Jakes Christmas Lounge
  • Seattle: Jakes Bar & Bistro, Brouwers Cafe
  • Milwaukee: Sugar Maple, Palm Tavern

Biggest “must do” beer goal in 2011
Take over the world? Honnestly, right now my main focus for 2011 is “get a job.” And unfortunately, my current state of desperation has forced me to stop pursuing a career in the beer industry and focus on my background in wine. (Although, if anyone in the beer industry is reading this and needs labor, let the record show I am completely available).


The Obvious Questions


Opt in or Opt out of the TSA full body scan? and why
This is an awkward question. But since I tend to lean on the liberal side and consider myself to be a human rights activist, I would probably be against the full body scan. Do I understand the “purpose” of them? Yes, but I’m not really into invasion of privacy. Besides, complete degredation, humiliaton and the resulting psychological aftermath of all the innocent individuals (which is most people) is horrible thought.

If you could be on any reality TV show, what would it be and why?
Really? Are you seriously asking this? Ugh, I’m not a big TV person and definitely not a big realty TV fan. If Bourdain’s “No Reservations” was a reality show, I would be on it in a heart-beat. I suppose the only reality shows I would like to be on would be culinary based — Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chef, neither for which I am qualified.

What would the world be like without beer?
Uncivilized, very uncivilized.

Special thanks to Ashley! Check out her blog “Drink With the Wench“.

Want to be featured in a spotlight? Shoot me an email at b@seacoastbeveragelab.com and I will send you some questions 🙂

Cheers,
B