As a Beer Blogger, I spend a lot of time in my own world. In this Beer Interview Series, I spent time getting varying perspectives on the world of Craft Beer from others in the beer industry.
Mario Rubio at BrewedForThought.com is a well-known presence in the Sonoma County beer industry, and someone you’re not likely to forget. You’ll find him hosting regular tap-takeovers’ in Petaluma and Santa Rosa, as well as promoting local events.
Tell me about yourself?
My name is Mario Rubio. I’m 33, a husband and father of two beautiful girls, aged 6 and 2. I studied Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley and currently spend my daytime hours working as a Civil Engineer in the Telecommunications field. I’ve been writing Brewed For Thought since 2007 and have been writing for the Northwest Brewing News since 2009. I work closely with RateBeer.com where I have worn various hats for the past 4 years.
What is your preferred craft beer style? Why?
I love porters. They’re so satisfying and reassuring. They speak completely to the old cliche of being like an old familiar blanket. The best porters are the ones that don’t draw attention to themselves. They are rich, flavorful, and present bold flavors without being confrontational. I wrote a love story to porters once.
How did you get into craft beer?
Freshman year at Berkeley I was rushing a fraternity. Only 17, I tagged along on an event at Raleigh’s, a beer bar on Telegraph that sadly burned down about a year ago. At that point I’d only had industrial lagers and though beer was gross. Sitting out on the back patio, the pitchers were brought to our table and I was handled a pint of something dark and frothy. I was blown away. Anderson Valley’s Boont Amber changed my life.
What made you choose your blog’s name?
The blog started as a collaborative project between 3 old college buddies. While drinking our college years away, we wanted to start a microbrew review website (that’s what craft beer was called in the 90’s) that was to be called the Beer Brothers. Sadly we knew more about beer than we did about programming. Years later we were spread across the country and another friends was added to the mix. Despite RateBeer and Beer Advocate stealing our idea, we figured we could start a blog, become famous and reap free beer from the deal. The only thing left was a name. We spent about a week brainstorming and one of the guys got a suggestion from his wife: Brewed For Thought. It was the best idea we had, so we went with it. A month later, they all tired of contributing to the site and it became mine.
What is your favorite beer / food pairing?
Hard to say which is my favorite, but one always comes to mind: West Coast IPA and Carrot Cake. Sweet on sweet with the hops crushing through the creamy frosting. Fantastic. At BBQs I love to stuff figs with Truffle Tremor then wrap them in prosciutto and sear them on the grill, pair that with a barleywine and you may just skip the main course.
What sort of challenges have you overcome in doing what you do?
Oh, I won’t lie, this is kind of a charmed life I lead, at least writing about beer. I’d say the biggest challenge is convincing people that I’m not just masking a drinking problem with a blog. Rarely do I allow myself to overindulge and I am very strict with my public behavior, especially at events. As an ambassador for the industry, I don’t think I could perform my job if I were seen as an example of irresponsible behavior. Is other people’s hang-ups a challenge? Not really, just annoying.
Based on what you originally envisioned for your blog, how have things changed? Why?
When I started I just wanted free beer. Now I want to get paid!Seriously though, the advent of social media and has changed everything. When I started the blog was a beer review site and homebrew recipe log. I discovered that this was not very interesting to read (or write) on a regular basis. Reporting breaking news became almost obsolete when sites dedicated to this service emerged and social media made it easy to spread that news quickly. Slowly the site evolved into more event coverage and a more national presence. Currently I’d like to get back to more editorial writing on the beer industry.
Do you home brew? If so, how often?
Not anymore. I used to, but since having kids and a regular supply of media samples to work through, the last thing I need is a 5 gallon batch of beer to toss in the cooler. I already have a mini fridge and a kegerator full of beer. The wife may kick me out if I add to that.
What’s your favorite style to brew?
I was old school when I brewed. I started simple, found want I wanted from my recipe and worked from there. My favorite brew was my Rats in the Attic Pale Ale. It was a bit of an American Pale/IPA hybrid (usually finished around 6.5%-7%). It was light in body, hoppy on the finish and far too easy to drink. Standard grain bill but with some wheat and honey added. The name came from the rodents eating our insulation when I first brewed it with a roommate in Oregon.
Should you age craft beer?
Sure. Some beers were meant to be aged but modern production cycles don’t allow for it. Imperial Stouts and Barley wines are a perfect example. Some other styles benefit from some light aging. American Brown Ales are great with 4-6 months of age. One of my favorite things to do is buy a bottle of Chimay and leave it in the fridge for 6 months. When the mood strikes me to drink it I buy another to put in the fridge and open the aged one. The aging allows the beer to gain an effervescent carbonation without taking on too much oxidation. That said, don’t age IPAs, pale ales, lagers, etc. Some IPAs are worthy of being saved for the right occasion (and should be kept in a stable, chilled environment) but make sure that right occasion happens within 2-3 months of the bottling, preferably less. If you let a beer sit too long you lose spark that made it special and then it’s no longer worthy of being shared.